'Mumma ain’t running no restaurant.' A mum of two shares her Five Golden Rules for parenting.

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Mamamia’s Five Golden Rules series takes a pervy look into the lives of Australian families. From parents of toddlers to parents of teenagers, the series asks parents to share their golden parenting rules, including the rules for their kids, and their rules for just getting through the day.

This week, mother-of-two Jacqui shares her Five Golden Rules for parenting pre-teens. 

My goal is to raise kids that no longer need me. 

When my boys are adults, I want them to love me and visit me and call me five times a day, of course. But I also want them to have the skills and the mindset to carve their own path and contribute meaningfully to society and relationships. 

I won’t be doing their laundry or delivering a week's worth of food when they’re 30. I’ll be singing karaoke with a cocktail in hand on a European cruise. 

None of us really know if we’re getting this parenting business right but so far, my kids are decent human beings.

They’re kind, curious and moderately resourceful. It appears we’re not completely stuffing things up, but they’re only 8 and 10 so we’ve still got time. What works for us? Clear expectations and reasonable boundaries. 

Here are just some of the rules I have laminated and stuck on our frequently raided fridge:

1. Thou shalt embrace multitasking. 

My husband and I both run businesses from home. I’m a communications consultant and he co-founded a travel technology company during the pandemic (I know, brave). 

That means we’re constantly multitasking – trying to fit virtual meetings in between school pickup and the kids’ extracurriculars while also finding time to cook, clean, exercise and see our friends more than twice a year. To-do lists, reliable internet and kids who get it are essential. 


Swoop’s ultrafast business nbn plans make the whole working from home situation a lot less stressful. It’s ultra-fast and super reliable with great one-on-one support if we need it. 

The only thing it doesn’t do is keep the kids and dogs quiet while I’m trying to schmooze a new client in a corporate shirt up top, with yoga pants on below. Juggling home life and work life in the same space can be a tad challenging. Getting the foundations right helps. 

2. Thou shalt not use a screen behind a closed door. 

My kids’ technology skills scare the bejeezus out of me. 

I grew up with landlines, dial-up internet and a mobile phone that doubled as a dumbbell. In contrast, my 10-year-old just designed a video game using code via Swoop's lightning-fast internet, with unlimited data. While neither of my boys will be getting a phone anytime soon, they do have computers for school, so we’ve had to put in strict rules around their use. 

Laptops are only allowed to be used in a communal space – at the dining table or kitchen bench where we can monitor what they’re doing. Same goes for the tablet. There’s also no TV in their shared bedroom. It's a space for reading, relaxing, sleeping and the occasional sibling pillow fight. 

Image: Supplied. 


3. Thou shalt pick up thy mess/clothes/toys/pet's poo.

In other words, if it’s on the ground, it stays there until you deal with it. 

I’ll admit, this one is a work in progress because I regularly find apocalyptic scenes in the bathroom, playroom and backyard. As my left eye twitches, it takes all my will not to scoop everything up myself. Instead, I endure the dragged feet and whingeing as I call the boys away from whatever they’re doing and watch like a hawk until I see a clean floor. 

Apparently, this means I am “ruining their life” but I’m sure it’s nothing a bit of therapy won’t fix. 


Hopefully, my incessant nagging will turn them into considerate and clean cohabiters one day and their future partners/flatmates will nominate me for the Order of Australia. 

Image: Supplied. 

4. Thou shalt try the meal even if it’s not pasta. 

My 8 year old eats almost anything. The 10 year old does not. He thinks spaghetti bolognaise constitutes the entire food pyramid. It can be pretty darn grating when you’ve spent over an hour cooking up something gourmet only to have a child dry wretch at the sight of it. 


These days, I refuse to get worked up about it. 

Instead of forcing him to eat, the rule is you just have to try it. If you try it and don’t like it, fine, but there’s no alternative. Mumma ain’t running no restaurant. 

As we’ve broadened my son’s culinary horizons through micro bites, he’s a lot less fussy. Every now and then we get a “hey, this is nowhere near as revolting as it looks” which I choose to take as a compliment. 

5. Thou shalt be spontaneous on Sundays.

Every Saturday, the whole family has to pitch in to complete a long list of chores and prepare for the week ahead. 

That includes stripping beds, mowing the lawn, vacuuming and making friends with the toilet brush. Getting everything done on a Saturday means we can chill and have fun on Sundays. 

A client of mine introduced me to the concept of spontaneous Sundays, and I love it. We all write down a fun activity we want to do on Sunday, put it in a jar and pick one out. Whatever we select, we have to do which often includes board games, mountain biking, going to the movies, or ordering a ridiculous amount of sushi and having a carpet picnic.

Image: Supplied. 


Rules get a bad rap in modern parenting, but they help us find a bit of calm amidst the chaos of working full time and raising two boys. 

Every family has their own priorities and beliefs. For us, it’s about finding a balance between instilling a sense of responsibility and carving out time to let go and have fun. 

We don’t always get it right but so far, in my totally unbiased opinion, our kids are pretty great. They’ve taught me more than I could ever teach them and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in their glorious company.

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Feature Image: Supplied. 

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