We just got back from a quick trip to Idaho and Yellowstone, where we visited friends who are some of the best parents I know. Not only do they love their kids, they like them too. I know! Isn’t it enough that we love our kids: instinctively, irrationally, unconditionally? Must we also LIKE them, in all their booger-eating, sticky-fingered sklonklishness?
(Not that my friends’ kids eat boogers.)
I used to jog with my friend when we lived in Cairo, so I wasn’t too excited about her seeing me in my post-moving fat slump and with my busy/poor/lazy gray hair. In a toss up between losing 20 pounds and getting a better haircut than the one Dick gave me a few months ago, getting a cut and highlights was the much easier fix.
(Hey, I can hope that if I have striking hair, no one will even notice my fat jeans.)
As my nice (young) stylist worked, I caught up on my trashy magazine reading, though unfortunately they didn’t have any really juicy ones like People or UsWeekly.
Instead I looked through some parenting magazines, and picked up a bunch of expert advice that I’ll be working into my daily routine.
One tip was so potentially life-changing that I thought I’d pass it on to you. It’s from Parents magazine:
If your morning routine is crazy, and the kids are having a meltdown just as you are rushing to get to your own early meeting, gather your kids into a circle and beat on your chests, yelling like Tarzan, for thirty seconds. Everyone will start laughing, and then they’ll magically find the lost tennis shoe and the hidden homework. (I may have made up that last bit, but they definitely talked about everyone laughing off the days’ stresses).
I don’t know about your kids, but when mine are out-of-control, the last thing they want to do is humor Mom in a little team-building role play.
No, if you really want to have a better morning routine, I’m afraid the answer is much less exciting:
1. Go to bed earlier (kids too).
2. Get up earlier (kids too).
3. Plan clothes/lunches/backpacks/outerwear/homework the day before.
4. Eat a good breakfast (kids too). No straight-sugar cereal.
But wait! I have an even more unsexy suggestion: If your morning routine is crazy, and if you really want to fix it:
5. Take a look at your priorities and schedule, and plan things so that you have an hour (or even a half hour) in which to concentrate on your kids in the morning without interruption.
Let me just say that I know these five things work, because I have way too much experience with the staying up late, the waking up late, the scrambling for clean underwear, and the blog posts that need finishing. It’s shocking (SHOCKING!) how much smoother things go in the morning if I’m not trying to talk on the phone to Tara or finish a post or pay a bill that was due last week.
The sad, hard truth is that parenting takes quantity time as well as quality. I can’t blame Parents for wishing that a 30-second screamfest would solve all our problems, though. Wouldn’t that be loverly?
That’s the Unsexy Morning Routine that works-for-me. Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more tips!
Comment of the day (and why I love Memarie Lane so much):
My midwife always has a stack of free Mothering magazines. The last one had an article about “gentle discipline.” This mom was playing ball with her two little boys and they kept getting upset and fighting. So she had them sit down and told them that the ball is a “talking stick” (why not a talking ball?) And whoever had the talking stick could talk while everyone else had to listen. And then each boy got his turn with the “stick” to talk about how he felt about his brother and the ball and the incident that had occurred. And then there were rebuttals and such, and then they sang a song and hugged.
I prefer my spanking stick.