I've been thinking a lot about rules lately.
Rules can be good - they keep us safe; they keep our society working; they give us predictability and guides.
Rules can also be bad - they can restrict our choices; they can ruin our creativity; they can create waste, tension, stress, etc.
Some rules are imposed upon us by our families, cultures, faith, or societies; and some are rules we create for ourselves (often without realizing it).
So, I've been thinking about my family's "rules" and why we follow them.
I'm a person who likes a certain amount of order, and I often realize that I've unintentionally created a rule for myself or my family. After a while, those rules can build up and become walls and barriers that begin to fence me in. Those rules need to be broken. In an effort to free us from some waste, stress, and "fences," we are taking a look at how and why we do some of the things we do. I find myself asking:
1) Where did this rule come from? Is it a societal rule? Is it a family rule that my husband or I learned from our parents? Is it a rule that one of us created?
2) What is the purpose of the rule? Does it keep us safe? Does it provide needed structure or order? Does it benefit us?
3) Why do we follow the rule? Is this something that we do because "that's the way people do it?" Is it a rule we follow because "that's what we've always done?" Do we follow it out of thoughtless habit? Is following this rule something we do intentionally, and with consideration?
If the answers to these questions are not satisfactory, I then ask myself
if there might be any benefit to breaking or changing this rule.
One example is the way I used to organize my kitchen. We bought my grandparents house a few years ago, and when we moved in, I put most things in the same cabinets and places that my grandma kept them. In my mind, that's just where everything went... because it had always gone there. The thing is that we have six people living where two people used to live & that system just wasn't working for us. After I realized this, I completely rearranged the kitchen. I cleaned out the pantry, painted the inside white, and now use it to store the dishes we use daily, as well as snacks for my kids. The cabinet that used to hold the dishes now contains my baking goods & a few pantry items. This works for us because the kids can now set the table without clogging up my very small kitchen.
Speaking of dishes, we also solved another problem by thinking "outside of the box." With five or six of us being home all day (for three meals and at least one snack), we had an overflowing dishwasher at the end of every day. We bought everyone their own dinner plate, smaller plate, and bowl - in their own color. Now, instead of loading up the dishwasher all day, everyone is responsible for cleaning their own dishes after each meal. At the end of the day, I've only got dinner dishes & the few pots/pans/etc. that didn't get hand washed earlier. I even fill one side of the sink with a bit of hot, soapy water before we sit down to eat so everyone can wash their dishes as they finish eating. Because I'm helpful that way.
Do you ever feel fenced in by your own rules? How can you change them to break free from your fences?