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.
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?
I 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:
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.