So, I cried this morning.
After dropping my son off at school, I got in my car and I ugly cried. Bawling, snot dripping down my chin, and mascara burning my eyes. I dropped my son off in his pajamas. He didn’t get dressed for school and the rule is — you only ask once or they face the consequences. So we went… just as the teacher had instructed me in the past, just as I had played out in my head. My son held my hand as we shuffled through the hallway with him in his rocketship jammies. Our decisions have consequences. Simple as that.
But as we neared his class, I could see his face transform from excitement to see his friends, to utter mortification. The reality that he was at school in his PJ’s broke his spirit in one fell swoop. Humiliation set in and he was distraught.
So was I.
The truth is, weekday mornings are the worst. I have two little boys, almost 2 and 4 years old. They make me want to tear my hair out at any given moment, but mornings are the perfect storm. Everyone’s grumpy and impatient, we have a laundry list of tasks to accomplish and only a short period of time to make it all happen. Breakfast, potty, clothes, lunches… and toddlers have no concept of time, no concern about tardiness, and no fear of their parents losing their jobs for charging through the office doors late nearly every day.
It always comes down to time. Parents don’t ever have enough and kids have as much as they like. Trying to explain to a 2-year old that we’re going to be late is like teaching a rhino sign language. They might look at you funny, but really all they’re just thinking about their next meal or next nap… and then there’s the inevitable distractions, right? — SQUIRREL!!!
With one kid in school and one in daycare, not to mention two parents with jobs, the time factor is not going to go away. Time will always be an issue. So how do we win this challenge? Or even just survive? It took several walks down the preschool runway in jammies for us to finally find our groove. And while it still occasionally makes my head spin with frustration and wanting to throw the white flag, it’s better than before, and in parenting that’s sometimes as good as it gets.
So how do we ward off the morning mayhem? First, by creating a routine. I sat down with my older son one relaxed weekend and we hashed out what a good morning routine would look like. It was fun, and entertaining to hear what kids want to include in their daily routine (popsicles for breakfast? I’m gonna have to say no).
Second, we canned the TV on weekdays. No TV. Sounds awful, right? It was actually a huge relief to stop fighting over TV time and competing with it to get the kids’ attention. It hasn’t solved all our problems, but it is one less distraction and that’s a big step forward.
Lastly, we continue to enforce that certain decisions have consequences. Hence the horrible, humiliating, heartbreaking morning we had today. My son chose not to change into day clothes and I wasn’t going to hold him down and dress him myself. The consequence is showing up to school with pajamas and realizing he made a bad decision. It’s not easy — not for the kids or the parents — but I’m going to take a wild guess he’ll be more apt to get dressed for school tomorrow.
Mornings are always going to be tough, I fear. I need to remember these are little humans who just want attention, love, and connection. Accepting the fact that time is the goal of the parents and not the kids might remind us that our kids aren’t here to sabotage our schedule or purposefully get us fired. Kids are the essence of living life in the moment. Perhaps we have more to learn from them then we think.
Something to ponder later, but for now I’ve got bigger fish to fry.
* Grabs energy drink… throws kids’ shoes into the backseat *
EVERYONE GET IN THE CAR! WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!