This blog has never been heavy on the how-tos. I like to think of it more as a how-not-to guide, a cautionary tale against sweating the small stuff.

But our school mornings have gotten a lot easier this fall, and the fix was so simple– so very much easier than all the haranguing from me that school mornings usually require– that I felt it would be selfish not to share.

I made a list and put it on the refrigerator.

morning checklist

I am not sure why I did not do this sooner. I think it seemed like overthinking. It also seemed like something anyone older than a toddler would hate. “Mom, I’m not a BABY,” I could hear my exasperated son saying, “I’m not an IDIOT, MOM,” in that tone of voice that would suggest that perhaps his mother, in fact, was one.

But that’s not how it went down. I asked my ten-year-old, aka Forgetful Jones, to dictate this list to me. (Yes, okay, I typed it up, which is a bit Type-A.** But if I was going to look at it on my refrigerator every day, it needed to look acceptably tidy.) Ever since then, every morning, he happily consults his list to see what he should do next. If he gets off track, I say, “Check the list,” instead of “Oh my FREAKING GOD how is it possible you STILL do not have socks on?”

Guess which cue provides more effective time-management, both for my child and for myself?

sensoryI got this so-simple-it’s-genius solution from The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious, or Distracted Kids by Carolyn Dalgiesh. If you have a sensory kid, you already know it. If you’re not sure what it means, but you have a child for whom scratchy clothing tags are an abomination, or who (on the flip side) really, really LIKES rolling in the sand at the beach, then… well, guess what.

But the “sensory child” label is less important than the parenting strategies Dalgiesh’s book and blog offer– which really, really work for any parent and child. If there’s something you are constantly nagging your children about, find a concrete solution. It took my kids fifteen minutes on a school morning to go upstairs, brush their teeth, and come back downstairs. (Forgetful Jones would take twenty minutes, and stroll back downstairs with teeth still unbrushed.). The effective solution to this problem, shockingly, was not more yelling; it was setting up an extra set of toothbrushes and toothpaste in the downstairs bathroom. That cut my morning diatribes in half RIGHT THERE.

Putting “systems” in place for your children and yourself sounds like more work, but that’s only up front. Sure, some fine-tuning may be required. After three mornings in a row during which the following conversation took place:

FORGETFUL JONES: Mom, I’m all ready!

ME: … well, almost. But your shoes aren’t tied.

FORGETFUL JONES: (slow burn down to untied shoes, laces akimbo) Oh. (stands there)

I amended our morning checklist thusly:

morning checklist (redux)

Lesson learned: Be unafraid of stating the obvious.

Further tinkering was required in this case. After two more days of stopping on the walk to school to retie said shoes a few extra times, I sought another hack, and found these stretchy elastic shoelaces which never come untied and never HAVE to become untied. They make any tie shoe a slip-on. Is there a better way for a mother to spend five dollars? I think not.

In the long run, seeking workarounds for the sources of tension between me and my children is the far more laissez-fair way to parent. Or at least the less yell-y, which for me, was the real goal. That’s why I’m going to write my own book called The Yelling Mom Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Stressed-Out, Anxious, and Hoarse Parents. Because that’s a goal we can all agree upon.

Do you have a mom-hack that makes your mornings simpler?

 

This is not a sponsored post. Just love the book (and the shoelaces). 

**If I were a Muppet, I’d be Type-A Jones.

remembering Ben Wheeler on his 8th birthday

Below, I’m reposting something I wrote a year ago today. September 12, 2014 is what should have been Ben Wheeler‘s birthday. His life was cut short by the tragic events in Newtown, CT, two years ago this December. Benny’s parents are old friends of mine, and they amaze me day after day with their strength. ...

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when summer is STILL not over

My kids are still not back to school. Based on my Facebook feed, and on the six responses I got when I inquired about this the last time, yup. It’s just us. This became eerily apparent yesterday afternoon, when I dragged my three squabblers to the beach on what turned to be one of the hottest ...

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Last Sunday morning I put my 11-year-old son and five other boys he had never met into a van driven by another stranger for a six-hour road trip to Camp Sleepaway, on the shores of Lake Wait-Did-I-Agree-To-This? Camp Sleepaway has a strict no-electronics policy, so I told Connor he and his compatriots would just have ...

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I saw it happen, out of the corner of my eye, and I still didn’t know anything had happened. That’s how minor of a slip-and-fall it was. Or seemed. My 9 and 11-year-old boys were playing some tennis. They were out of balls, and had to pick them up. It had rained the night before ...

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just because they say it doesn’t mean you have to listen

Sometimes I feel like my most important job as a mother will have been teaching my kids that just because your brother says “no, you didn’t” and you say “yes, I did” and he says “no, you didn’t” again, YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO RESPOND. This is a tough lesson- apparently- because it is what pretty ...

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chevrolet’s sponsorship of Listen to Your Mother Show, but opinions are my own. It’s a wrap for 2014’s Listen to Your Mother: NYC! Let me count the ways I have “found new roads” with Listen To Your Mother: new friends, new collaborators, new priorities for my ...

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Listen To Your Mother: you’ll be hearing her voice in 32 cities before Mother’s Day

I’m having trouble sleeping for the butterflies in my stomach, so it must be late April! And why yes, it is: the Listen to Your Mother NYC countdown has begun. Listen to Your Mother  started with 12 women and a microphone in Madison, Wisconsin in 2010. Since then, the brainchild of “stay-at-home humorist” Ann Imig has ...

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A friend of mine was crowd-sourcing on Facebook recently. “For a story I’m working on,” she wrote, “please ask your daughters: What do they want to be when they grow up?” The comments came in so fast you could practically see the churn: Astrophysicist! Veterinarian! Pearl diver! I couldn’t wait to join the fun. My six-year-old daughter ...

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My eleven-year-old has declared “family movie night” one of his favorite weekend activities. Mine too- at least in conception. But as I search for good older-kids-family movies that are both enjoyable and appropriate for parents and almost-tweens to watch together, I find myself despairing, since any screening must also include their six-year-old sister, who would have ...

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Mom, I left you a note

Lately I’ve been trying to convince my kids that if they want me to take an action on their behalf, they should leave me a note. Pen and paper are on hand at all times for said purpose. If the third-grader finishes the jar of Nutella, and he expects there to be more at some point, ...

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At what, please God, is almost the end of the longest winter ever in the history of everything (screw you, Punxsutawney Phil), I find myself still in the Denial Stage.  With six to ten inches of heaven’s wintry diarrhea barreling down on the Eastern Seaboard just in time for our school commute tomorrow morning, I ...

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is blogging a dead language?

My brother recently asked me why I’d been posting to my blog less frequently. More than anything else, I was shocked that he’d noticed. For six-plus years, I have been blogging– parenting stuff usually, funny stuff most-of-the-time-hopefully. Five hundred and fifty-odd posts later, besides giving me a wonderful record of things I was sure I’d ...

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