The evolution of our agreements.
Sometimes people have a hard time wrapping their brains around the idea of having a home with no rules. (Except for the NAP- non-aggression principle if you want to look it up. Still not technically a rule.) Our home runs, instead, on agreements. I thought I'd show you what that looks like for us, in regards to Josh (9y) playing Minecraft.
To start, Josh wanted Minecraft. He purchased it with his own money and downloaded it onto my computer. Our original agreement was that he could play as much as he liked so long as I was not using the computer, and that whenever I wanted to use the computer he had 5 minutes in which to wrap things up and get off.
That didn't work out. We were getting frustrated with each other over switching back and forth. So we came to a new agreement. He would have 3 hours of time to play each day. I started noticing issues with this almost immediately. He would spend 3 consecutive hours staring at a screen. It was affecting his mood, meal times, etc. I brought my concerns to him and we came up with a new agreement.
This one was that he could play for 3 hours total each day, but at a maximum of 1.5 hours at a time, with an equal amount of time away from the computer between session. This worked out alright for a while, particularly in the winter when we weren't leaving the house much. We would play with him. Bug learned how to play by watching and Josh even let him play and helped him figure everything out. Good times.
But the 3 hour total time was nagging at my mommy conscience. Especially in the spring when there is so much fun to be had outside. I talked with Josh again about my thoughts and feelings. We came up with a great system. He would get 1 hour of computer time each day, and then he could work for more if he wanted. We made a list of chores he could do around the house and their value- both in Minecraft Time and dollars- from which he could choose to be paid. This was completely voluntary, not at all coerced. He loves the agreement, as do I.
Last night Papa and I were talking about some reading I'd done on Waldorf education (for this week's Education Freedom Report, make sure to check it out), specifically the exclusion of technology and the idea of encouraging children's creativity by not exposing them to stories to imitate. Josh overheard, and later lying in bed he asked us if we could come up with a new agreement. He found value in what we'd been discussing and suggested he didn't use any screens until after 3pm each day. Sounds great to me.
So this "no rules" thing isn't chaotic and hands off. It isn't raising feral children. For us, it is starting at the assumption that full freedom for self-regulation is best, then making adjustments if and when we see issues arise. It is flexible and adaptive. It takes everyone's needs and preferences into account, and changes along with them. It is us helping the kids to notice things about themselves and their behaviors. It is us helping the kids connect the dots between cause and effect. It is us helping them come up with and implement a plan that best serves their development. It is working together respectfully and lovingly.