Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Five Simple Rules

Sometimes life gets a little complex. I think that’s what vacations are all about. It’s not only a change of scenery we’re after, but also a chance to simplify our daily routine for even just a short time. That’s why some people who plan busy vacations with a lot of planned activities often return home feeling like they need a vacation from their vacation. Sometimes I wonder if our normal lives could be a little simpler.

How about if we just had a few rules to live by, and if we followed them, our lives would be a bit less stressful? The thought came to me while watching a video my daughter recently posted to her blog. You see, her 2 ½ year old twin boys are giving her a run for her money these days when it’s time to go to bed. Nap time has turned to play time, and by the time they eventually settle down to sleep, the day’s schedule is all messed up. The video she posted is of the two boys and their dad reviewing "Five Simple Rules" for bedtime. If you’ve had young children, particularly twins, you can probably relate to these rules, and have perhaps reviewed them with your own children.

Rule #1: No talking. Takes me back 50 years when I had to share a bed with my brother. When dad yelled up at us to be quiet, we both consistently blamed the other. Then the whispering began. And the giggling.

Rule #2: Heads down. Reminds me of elementary school when a few kids misbehaved and the teacher made us all put our heads down. We always peeked around the classroom!

Rule #3: Stay in your own crib. You need no imagination to picture in your mind why this rule is necessary. The surprise to me was just how quickly they can make the switch!

Rule #4: Don’t touch the curtain. This is a room darkening curtain, closed at naptime to create the right "mood". Not usually being IN the mood, the boys regularly open that curtain so they can see outside.

Rule #5: Go to sleep. I see the intent here, but this one is a little like telling a snowman not to melt when the sun comes out. A nice thought, but it somehow falls into the category of wishful thinking.

Now this is a grandfather speaking, but I think the video is the cutest thing ever. Especially when you see the looks on the boys’ faces as they repeat the rules that are meant to govern their lives for the next hour or two. They try to look sincere, but I suspect they think the whole thing is just part of "fun time with dad".

In spite of that, I really like the idea of putting things in nice, succinct, repeatable phrases. And sometimes I think we’d all do a lot better if we had just a few rules to live by, that if regularly reviewed and diligently followed, might make our lives simpler, yet with more impact concerning the things that are important. What the boys haven’t figured out yet is that if they would (or could) obey those simple rules, they would have loads of time to enjoy playing outside of the confines of their cribs…AFTER they wake up. And perhaps we haven’t learned that either. Our lives rush by, often in a swirl of stress, because we haven’t stopped to review the things that are most important. Instead, we let life’s pressures dictate our mood and often our actions, and we end up missing out on things because we were too busy to enjoy them.

I would never presume to present a list of “the” five simple rules. Likely we’d each have some different items on our lists. I can, however, say that I’ve begun to formulate in my own mind what my list might include. And I can certainly challenge you to do the same. After you’ve thought about it some, perhaps you should sleep on it. But remember…no talking! Don’t touch the curtain. And whatever you do…stay in your own crib!

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