I doubt I’m alone as a parent of school-aged children: one of the most stressful times of the day is between waking the kids up to getting the kids to the bus stop or to the drop-off.
Can I get an amen on that?
This week I made a commitment to myself. It was a simple commitment: Remain fully patient and maintain my cool each morning.
They’ll test you, won’t they?
My commitment was tested early and often. Some examples…
- Me: “Here are your clothes.” Him: Commence to pouting and not sharing his feelings as to why my announcement of his clothes is causing emotional turmoil.
- I was accused of purposefully and mean-spiritedly leaving cheese out of the scrambled eggs
- I was, not all that politely, that I missed a drink order – that juice was requested, not milk (although I’m sure that I was heard him ask for milk – but I didn’t argue. You never win an argument with a 5 year old, even if you win the argument with a 5 year old).
- There appeared to be a constant game of Chinese fire drill at the breakfast table.
- Instead of brushing her teeth, the daughter kept getting sidetracked into American Idol vocal auditions in the restroom.
- There was a twin on twin wrestling match.
- I asked them to put on their shoes like 23 times.
- Oh yes, don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks. (deep breath) Don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks.
I’m sure there were others, but go ahead and insert your own process in there.
I might be the only parent who sometimes gets a little testy while trying to get the kids to school. It can be rough. While I try to exude an air of perfection, I can be extremely weak and impatient and easily agitated. I have my own stuff I need to do. Writing before they wake up is a perfect example. If someone woke and came down right now, I’d be ridiculously annoyed (but I wouldn’t show it).
Lessons about patience….
There are lessons here. I’m not just making a weak attempt at humor. Here are a few observations that I’m trying to remember to help me maintain a blood pressure under 120 over 75 during our morning process (or any other stressful situation).
Kids are not efficient: Kids under 19 are simply not efficient. They are easily distracted. They are not naturally task oriented (unless the task is Rainbow Looming or playing Rayman on the tablet). While we do need to help them move things along, we should relax our expectations that they should somehow be efficiently on task.
Make it a game: I forget this all the time. If we gamify things, then there’s a greater chance that they’ll do it. My boys come back to this chart throughout the morning, now. It’s still not incredibly quick, but it keeps them going.
Parents are the thermostat: Even if I have every right to lose a tad bit of cool, it never works. It just never brings the desired effect. If my temperature rises, then so do theirs, and that rise in temps always results in even greater inefficiency and more stress.
Parents can always lower the temp by maintaining their cool.
I don’t need the stress so make stress a choice: If I just give up my right to have boot camp style mornings, I’m a happier person. If I can save my stress until the actual work day is upon me (even there, why?), then it’s a win. If it doesn’t change things, then why waste energy on stress?
Set aside my own stuff during that precious hour: This one might be unique to me, but I do try to get in my own disciplines in the morning – writing, social media updates for a couple accounts I assist with, Bible reading and journaling, a little exercise. Sometimes their schedule busts in on my schedule. At that point, I just need to let go and be with my kids. What’s more important?
I get to know my kids better: One thing I’ve noticed in these few short days is that since I don’t constantly course correct my children while they get ready, they show their personalities while they bumble through their routines. They are hilarious. They have some wit about them. They really love each other and have fun with each other. It’s fun to watch.
What amazes me is that this whole thing is even an issue. Yes. Things need to get done. Children need to get to school. I need to get to work. But in the end, I need to remember that this is simply one more time I get to spend with my children. I don’t get all that much time, especially at their ages. I best enjoy it now.
Please note: Today there were some completely ridiculous demands about how the frozen waffles needed to be served. I was on the edge. Many deep breaths were taken.