It was my own fault, of course. Everybody had gotten up late, couldn’t find their shoes, forgot to have me sign their permission forms, and by the time we piled into the car to rush to school to beat the tardy bell, everyone was really stressed out – especially me.
Then my wise, wonderful, always-positive second daughter broke the tension. As we pulled up to school, she leaned over for her goodbye kiss . . .
. . . and I realized she hadn’t brushed her teeth!
“OH, MY GOD!” I overreacted. “YOU DIDN’T BRUSH YOUR TEETH! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU? YOU ARE GOING TO GROSS EVERYBODY OUT ALL DAY! HOW COULD YOU BE SO THOUGHTLESS. . . .”
. . . and she smiled sweetly, leaned in real close to me, and breathed:
“O . . . . KKKKKKK, MOOOOOOOOOM!” giving me a big blast of that bad breath right in the schnoz.
My facial expression must have been so funny, all the kids burst out laughing, and then I laughed, and then we all felt much, much better about the day.
Thanks, Honey. A sense of humor makes every situation better!
However, it was a good reminder to me to take these steps to prevent those awful, stressed-out mornings when everyone’s grumpy, you’re running late, and instead of being the loving and caring mother you want to be, you yell at your kids like a SCREAMING MIMI!!! Here’s a better way:
- The very first time your kids and you run late, move up bedtime 15 minutes earlier, and rise-and-shine time 15 minutes earlier. If it happens again, move them earlier again in 15-minute increments, until you find your sweet spot.
- If a child is stressing out, crying, whining, rebelling, etc.: this may be hard to take, but the child is more than likely modeling YOU! Time for that “adult lightbulb” to go on over your head. Kneel down to child’s eye level, give a warm hug and snuggle, chat for just a second, and reassure that child that he or she is OK and Mom is OK and things are OK and let’s take a deep breath and count to 10, and get on with our morning as Mr. or Miss America!!!
- Practice “night-before’ing.” Kids take their showers; pick up their rooms for 5 minutes; lay out all of their clothes; check to make sure they have everything they need in their backpack (forms signed, etc.); set their alarm clocks, and older ones should turn over their smartphones if they have them, to the parental units, no arguments. NOTE TO MOMS: you practice “night-before’ing,” too. Be a great role model!
- Set up a “launchpad” for each child near the door to your garage. Use a bench, box, basket or dishpan. Train the child to keep backpack, lunchbox, library books, lunch money, permission slips, etc., in the launchpad so that they are all in place at bedtime each night. You can put up hooks for coats and a shelf or cubby for hats, gloves, scarves, etc., in colder climates. The point is, none of these items go into the house; they stay in the launchpad area.
- Post a Morning Routine chart and teach your children at a very early age how to tell time. Then they can pace themselves with the routine: 7:00, get up; 7:05, dressed and hair combed; 7:10, bed made; 7:15, eat breakfast; 7:25, brush teeth; 7:30 put on shoes and socks; 7:35, check backpack and lunchbag or lunch money; 7:40, be at back door ready to go to school.
- If you have more than one child, rotate “Morning Leader” duties each week. The “Morning Leader” makes sure all kids are up on time and working their morning routine.
- Mom makes a hot breakfast on Mondays and Fridays, but the kids make their own on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Even a kindergartner is capable of making his or her own breakfast of cold cereal, milk and a piece of fruit. The “Morning Leader” can help keep the troops stay on time.
- Soft music that the kids have pre-selected soothes the savage morning beast in the kitchen at breakfast time.
- Don’t bail them out. If they are at the door and it’s time to leave but they can’t find matching socks, tough: they will go to school in mismatched socks and next time, they won’t skip their “night before’ing.” If they forget their homework, DO NOT BRING IT TO SCHOOL. Let them fail. That’s how they learn. If they forget their lunch, DO NOT BRING IT TO SCHOOL. Email their teacher for a head’s up on the discipline you are trying to employ here, instead of child neglect (!), but otherwise, tell your child that today he or she will have to starve and drink a lot of free drinking fountain water, and then the tummy rumbles will teach him or her to NEVER do that again!
- And always remember – despite the best-laid plans, you will still likely have bad mornings, so lighten up and plan to live through them. Remember the incredible coping power you give your kids with a smile, eye contact, a hug, a pat, an encouraging word, or a joke. And most of all – don’t ever part with your child without saying, “I LOVE YOU!!!” . . . even if your hair IS on fire!
Parenting tips and encouragement for the heart of the home.
By Susan Darst Williams | www.TheDailySusan.com | Vitamin Mom | © 2017