We had quite the morning yesterday. Just a classic run of me telling Bode, in particular, to get dressed 9 or 10 times, him totally ignoring me and doing whatever he wants to, and me trying every angle from calm and patient to angry and yelling. This, unfortunately, ended up with Bode looking at me with his little bulldog puppy dog face saying, “Well, you didn’t have to yell.” And, me breaking down into a puddle of hysterical tears…and, Harley Love rubbing my leg saying, “It’s OK, mommy.”
Needless to say, we had a talk on the way to school about how we can’t live like that. We can’t start our day with yelling and crying and frustration. And, we have to figure out how to fix it.
I gave him about 5 minutes to sit in the back in silence and come up with his thoughts on what we can do to make our mornings work better.
His answer: “I’ll be happier.”
His 2nd answer when I told him that his 1st answer wasn’t a good enough solution: “I’ll listen.”
Finally, I explained to him that we had a problem that needed to be fixed. And, that to fix a problem, you need to come up with specific ideas for solutions. Sometimes he might come up with an idea, sometimes I might, and sometimes even Harley Love may think of something. No ideas would be “bad” ideas, but we had to come up with something concrete to try.
Since he was having trouble coming up with ideas, I threw something out on the table: write up a list for both kids on the kitchen chalkboard of the few things that HAVE to get done every morning, let them check them off as they go down the list in whatever order they want to each day, and then once those things are done they are allowed to play until it’s time to leave.
We agreed on a short list of 5 things that needed to happen before they earn their free time every day, and decided we would give it a try the next day and see what happened.
- Eat breakfast.
- Pack back pack.
- Get dressed.
- Brush teeth.
- Clean room.
For the most part, it worked. Everything got done that “had” do, and then they were able to play for about 2.2 seconds before it was time to leave for school. But, (a) we got in the car 5 minutes earlier than usual, (b) I didn’t cry, (c) there was no yelling; there was “stern talking”, but no yelling.
I’m going to give him some time to sit on the whole thing and tell me what he thinks about this plan. We’ll see if he thinks we maybe need to assign an order to things, a time goal for each thing to avoid the 45 minutes it took to eat some cantaloupe and a rice cake with peanut butter, or if we just need a few more runs with this plan to see if things iron themselves out.
But, do think it’s important to be able to start your day with some sort of routine that puts you in a good place as you head off on your day, find the areas of your day that need some tweaking, and try to fix things that aren’t working with concrete ideas that may or may not work.
And, never relent in hunting down those areas of your life that could be better. Because those things are forever changing and I truly believe the more we seek them out, versus running away from them and pretending that they’re “not that bad” and that “it’s normal”, the more we stay on the happy train 🙂