Who’s never experienced to get up feeling organized, efficient, in control, and full of time ? A clear schedule in your head, and feeling positive about everything? A morning where you feel balanced and strong. In power. You savor a zen morning with the kids, breakfast together and some cuddles, before getting to work..
Then, this whole zen morning with the kids in your head, you wake your wonderful creatures up, and a few moments later, see this powerful feeling of control crumble and transform into exasperation..Raise your hands!!!
A typical zen morning with the kids
When I enter my children’s room, seeing their cute little faces full of sleep,fills me up with tenderness (also read : under the effect of oxytocin). So I start dressing them up, I wake them slowly slowly with kisses and caresses. I listen to them while they’re telling me their dream. They usually make them up on the spot… It sounds like “my lollipop turned into mud”, or “my bed turned into a leaf”, and so on. I smile and feel the luckiest mum of all.
Then we go in the kitchen, I sit with them while they take breakfast, we chuckle. We stay quietly together, until I decide it’s time to activate phase number 2 : pee, teeth brushing, washing hands and face, give a hug to daddy still in bed, and then coats and scarfs and go.
The zen morning with the kids you had in mind transforms into catastrophe
My balanced, happy self, my sense of control, disappear in an eye blink.
My daughter jumps in bed with daddy and do not want to move into the bathroom for the sake of her. Then, when I finally get her to do it, she doesn’t want to sit in the toilet. In the meanwhile, I’ve finished washing her brother and need to bring him to his bedroom to get him dressed, only she does not want to stay in the bathroom on her own…
So I start feeling frustrated knowing that :
a) my children don’t listen to me; and
b) I’ll probably be late (again). And I hate being late.
Therefore, I raise my voice, threaten them, all the classical register, and it only gets worse (of course!). Until I get real angry and put them both straight in the bike wagon and leave the house. It’s only morning! Then, pedaling and pedaling, my anger leaves place to self questioning and I find myself wondering why.
What’s a zen morning with the kids without shouting a little?
Why do I get so angry and frustrated? And why can’t we get calmly and easily ready to go without me having to wake them up 3 hours in advance every morning?
I couldn’t find a unique answer so far nor magical solution (if you do have one, please share!).
What I did though, was thinking this issue over and over. And there’s maybe several little changes that can be done.. You can read, for instance, this post about the power of giving children a choice. Or this one about the need behind the shouting..
My part of the problem
I give myself false expectations, or non realistic ones, about what my children can do. I expect and hope that my daughter, just turned 5, gets ready on her own. At least a little. That she can wash her teeth and her face alone, while I dress her little brother (2). So basically, I count on that time-saver to be able to do other things at the same time, and I build up my schedule on these unrealistic expectations.
But my daughter wants to be with me, she does not accept that I take care of her little brother, but not of her. I do need to take this into consideration when I make my mental schedule, or it will never work, and we’d end up all stressed out.
Other meaningful question : why in the world do I get so frustrated if I arrive 10 minutes late?
I mean, of course there are many situations when you can’t be late, but an occasional ten minutes delay is not the problem in itself. The problem is the feeling of losing control.
Besides, how can I expect my children to understand what it means to be punctual, when they don’t have any precise notion of time? To them, being late it’s only a sentence I repeat every day. My son can tell me I’m 2 as 19 as 150 years-old, and it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever to him. How can he understand when I yell at him “Hurry up it’s late we need to go!!!!”?!
When science can help us out …
I’m certainly going to talk more on details about the book of Isabelle Fillozat “J’ai tout essayé!” – “I’ve tried everything!”. The book explains that until the age of 5, children don’t have the brain maturity to stay focused on one task for a very long time. Let’s figure when they have dolls, books and toys all around them, which are a lot more interesting by the way than their shoe-laces.
Then other times, I fall into the biggest mistake: I don’t give precise and clear rules. So if I say to my daughter : “you can’t ride your bike today to go to school, it’s supposed to rain”, then I can’t change my mind 5 minutes later. Instead, I do and tell her “But maybe, if you really want to… ” and then again “If you had been faster and had gotten yourself ready, we could have taken your bike! Now it’s too late, it has taken you too long!”. I am the adult, I’m the one who needs to know when and how and when not.
I can’t expect her to do it, nor to blame her for something that very simply her brain cannot do or understand. And besides I am a very bad example at this. While I’m filling the washing machine, I remember I haven’t cleaned the dirty cat litter. While I’m doing it, I see an old tissue on the floor. So I go in the kitchen to throw it out, but see the breakfast still on the table and so I start to clear it out. And in the meantime I forgot all about the washing machine !
A zen morning with the kids in the end ?!
So we’ve made a pact : I have promised that I would not get angry at them in the morning, and that they had the right to remind me of this promise in case. In turn, they promised to orderly follow their morning routine. Breakfast, toilet, and then in bed with dad until it’s time to leave. I also taught them how to use the clock as a timing reference.
I’ve also promised myself not to do anything else at the same time. I need to be ready when I wake them up, and then be all for them.
And you? Do you have tips and tricks that work? Comment and share your experience with us!