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The Morning Rush
My son is 3.5 and is in the classic stage of willfulness. Whatever shoes I bring, he requests different ones. If I give him a choice between oatmeal and eggs for breakfast, he simply snipes ''DIFFERENT!'' You get the idea. He kind of takes it to another level, though, and lately we've spent every single night and at least 3x a weekend day on what we call ''The Thinking Rug'' - time out.
I was complaining about my son to my mom and she said, ''You give him too many choices.'' I almost lost it. After calming down she conceded that she did not work when I was small, so if I refused to eat the oatmeal my mother was benevolent enough to make for me, she would sit at the table with me for HOURS until I either ate it or it was lunch time and she placed a new plate of food in front of me that I was unwilling to eat. I grew up getting hit, chased, and screamed at all the time.
I'd like to avoid that with my kids if possible ;) But she got me thinking - a lot of my bad choices with regards to my son stem from the fact that my husband and I NEED TO WORK and I don't have time to teach the lovely life lessons the way my mom taught them. We are regularly late for work because our son will spiral out of control so badly the morning grinds to a halt. It's worse with my husband because he has his own issues (lately when our son misbehaves he immediately verbalizes his disappointment by saying, ''Oh, great, there goes the morning,'' or ''I'm out of here - this sucks.'' - when I tell him to grow up and react like a parent, not some dude around kids, he tells me he can't help it) and I think my son is so bummed when he hears my husband so obviously disappointed that he hits my husband as a reflex.
In any case, what do all you FT working parents out there do when your kid is like this? I really don't think holding him down and forcing him to get dressed, giving him Cheerios whether he wants them or not, throwing his stinky bottom in the bath because he stinks. etc is the solution. But lately I find myself doing really stupid things with him (like today, running through ALL of his shoes until he just put ONE pair on without immediately pulling them off) simply because I do not have the hour it will take to show him that I am the current master of the house (hahaha). He is the kind of kid who will take it to the level of hysteria - my neighbors are quite familiar with the image of us walking in/out of the house with him flailing and screaming in our arms.
What do you do when it's 8am and your kid is refusing to get dressed? All of our previous tricks don't work any more. I should add that we also have a 1 year old who, while she's mellow and can self amuse, does require some of our time as well. Sheesh
Quick story. When my daughter was about the same age, a spirited child she is, we had similar battles. We tried everything. Having her chose her clothes the night before, choosing them for her. Hanging matching outfits on hangers. Finally I said what you wear is your job. You can choose to get dressed. If you choose not to get dressed I will take you to preschool in your PJs. Then I did - I took her to school in her PJs just like I said. The staff looked at me curiously, then engaged my daughter in play. Sometime during the day she chose to change clothes into something at the preschool. That was the end of our issues. Problem solved. She got dressed by herself every morning. Sometimes it was purple, orange and red - stripes, plaids and flowers on the same day - in the big scheme of life - do you want to get our of the house or do you want to control things?
By the way - I don't believe in time-outs to force compliance. It simply doesn't work because it's not a natural consequence for the behavior exhibited. My daughter is in control of her life
Sometimes the terrible twos don't show up till the ''trying threes.'' I'm pleased to say (knock on wood) that for the most part, my daughter now realizes I'm serious when I say that she's wearing whatever she's got on, or if she doesn't eat breakfast, then she's going to go hungry. till snacktime, anyway. I will add that when I realize she's tired, I present her with options that she's likely to agree w/ initially, to make it easier on all of us (and I get her in bed earlier the next night). And if I know she's going to have a problem w/ a particualr outfit or pair of shoes, I do sometimes pack an alternate into the backpack. Oh, and I am not at all opposed to forcibly cleaning a stinky butt. I usually apologize as I'm doing it, and I always remind her that there's an ''easy way'' to do it. We've had to do that w/ teeth brushing in the past too. Either you open your mouth and let me brush, or I open your mouth for you. She's now over 5, and we never have a tooth brushing fight, and we rarely have power struggles over getting ready (but we do always make sure that she's adequately fed & rested, which accounts for most of the bad behavior that we do get). My husband also recently started offering pennies for dressing in 2 minutes. Which she can do, apparently, when motivated. As for the nasty comments from your husband, oh, whole 'nother subject. But I do try to let mine know, in the nicest way possible, and at the most appropriate times I can possibly manage, that those comments don't help, and he is, after all, the grownup, don't forget. And when he just can't manage it, I think disrespectful thoughts of him, and I sometimes let a nasty comment slip if I'm under a lot of stress. Which is also not helpful, except for the stress balloon that would otherwise burst in my belly. My neighbors have seen my daughter perfectly well behaved, but they have also heard her screaming and being told that she is going to get into the car NOW. : )
Currently, when it comes to meals, he no longer gets a choice. I cook one dinner for the entire family and if he doesn’t eat his portion, that’s fine, but he then has to wait until the next meal. I have to say that it was hard at the beginning not to give in and substitute the rejected dinner plate with a bowl of cheerios. However, bear in mind, that we have already modified most of our family meals to include kid-friendly food that I know our son generally likes and has eaten in the past (I wouldn’t serve him spicy ceviche or sushi and expect him to eat it or else). I just had to remind myself that he is a very healthy boy with plump cheeks, so if he decides to miss a meal, he will survive. The bottom line, this approach worked for us and him like magic.
When it came to our own shoe drama, what I’ve done several times in the past was actually to hide all his shoes the evening before, leaving just one pair in the shoe bin and when he demanded to wear another pair in the morning, I just explained that that’s the only pair we have today and offered him to take a look in the bin. Somehow, not seeing an array of footwear to choose from was very convincing to him. Not sure if this would work on your boy, but it’s worth a try.
Finally, one time when he was having a particularly nasty morning meltdown that seemed to have no end in sight, I said that we have to leave now or I will miss my BART and be late for work. Of course, that had no effect so I just left the house and stayed right outside the front door for about half a minute. I only had to do it once.
The bottom line is, the traditional disciplinary tactics, such as time outs, have absolutely no effect on our boy (and we don’t scream or spank), so implementing this “each action has its consequence” approach was the only thing that we could think of. And while he still has his moments (he is three after all, what did I expect!), I find that overall it’s been a tremendous change for the better for our family. Good luck to you and your little ones. anon
As for breakfast, tell him what his choices are, and if he yells ''different'', calmly tell him that those are his choices, and that you will be leaving for preschool on time whether he eats or not. Then, stick to your guns. It won't kill him to go to school with an empty stomach once or twice.
If he has a hysterical fit, let him have his fit -- but stick to your guns. What he's learned so far is that the more hysterical he gets the more choices you give him, and that he can delay his departure for school a good hour or more as long as he keeps it up. It will take him a while to unlearn this, but eventually he will. Kids are smart -- he'll figure out that you mean what you say as long as you really do! Good luck! Diane
As a child, with a SAHM, I hated peas and refused to eat them. My mom would have me sit for hours until I ate them. When they got cold, she would heat them up again . . . On a good day, I would swallow them whole and gag and on most days I would find ways to sneak them into the garbage. I hate peas to this day! I refuse to fight about food with my 3.5 y/o. What's the point? I try to give him choices about everything and worst case scenario, he doesn't eat anything and life goes on.
As for getting dressed, that's another area where I don't want to fight. The other day, my son wore two different shoes (he thought that was so hilarious . . . it was actually). Yesterday, he wore shoes that were too tight (and told his teacher that I made him do that!). I try to leave enough time for getting dressed so that we're not rushing at the last minute (recipe for disaster).
You're doing a great job. This is the primary job of toddlers: to express their individuality and drive you crazy. It will soften a little and then return with a vengeance when they become teenagers. Cherish it now when it's just ''little stuff.'' we're already too hard on ourselves.
Maybe you guys could think DEFUSE rather than ESCALATE, because it sounds like the tough approach is backfiring. Have you read Cohen's ''Playful Parenting''? It's pretty philosophical, but there's a great part where the author's daughter says, ''Daddy, could we play a game where we're running late in the morning, and you're the daddy, and you're mad at me, and you yell?'' She understood that humor helps a lot. Also, there's more of a bullet-pointed list of playful ideas in Pantley's ''The No-Cry Discipline Solution.''
Hang in there. And your husband needs to get a grip! No one can make us more furious than our kids, but we still need to stay in control and rise above our anger. (The Pantley book has a chapter on dealing with your own anger and disappointment at your child's behavior.) anon
Can you give your husband a timeout? Once, when I had just HAD it with the kids and was snapping at them and my husband, my husband said, ''Mommy, we don't talk that way to other people. You need to go in the office and have a timeout.'' So I got a little space then came out and apologized and the kids saw the rules applied to everyone.
We've worked hard to make sure that mornings aren't rushed and that also helps. Could you shift your day an hour one way and your husband an hour the other way (or even half an hour) and alternate daycare drop-off/pick-ups so the kids aren't there quite so much?
Also, when my son is being his worst, one of the most effective things I've found is to pick him up and cuddle with him, preferably with a snack he likes.
Good luck. This too shall pass
To your specific case, you are not teaching your son about the consequences of his choices (not wearing shoes is a valid choice, though a potentially uncomfortable one). This isn't a case of working outside the home fulltime or staying at home to teach him the life lessons (my mother made me sit at the table with fried eggs in front of me for hours. I never ate the fried eggs and to this day, I still won't. Did I learn anything from it? Yes, authoritarianism is for the birds.) This is just a case of letting your son take advantage of you. He needs to respect you and you need to respect him. Tell him that he needs to put his shoes on. period. (or, give him two choices)..if he doesn't put them on, then leave the house without them (tuck them into his daycare bag so that he can enjoy the playground later). He may not enjoy the cold pavement on his feet. After a time or two of living with the consequences of his choice, he may be more willing to put on his shoes. If he doesn't want to eat breakfast, the don't make him. He won't starve if he dones't eat until lunch time. He may get hungry and next time remember that he may want to eat his breakfast when offered. Don't make a big deal about it. Just offer the breakfast. If he doesn't want it, just acknowledge that he isn't hungry and mention that maybe he'll have a better appetite at lunch. If he wants food between breakfast and lunch, well, that isn't your problem (literally -- someone else is caring for him, though you may want to give the stand-in a heads up)
And as an aside. Don't chalk up your struggles with parenting to working full time. Every parent struggles with parenting. I've worked full-time outside the home and I have worked full-time inside the home with my children. IMHO, working outside the home is a heck of a lot easier than working inside the home with your children (I currently work outside the home with children of similar age to yours). I always find myself a lot more refreshed to deal with the challenges presented than when I am with them full-time. -like choices and consequences
Other idea - if giving them a time out doesn't get them moving, try giving their blanket a time out, or some other treasured object. ''If you don,t pick one of these three pairs of shoes by the time I count to 3, then Teddy Bear will have a time out. .. One, ... two ... Three (and follow through on the time out). Put the shoes in a bag and take him to day care with the bag if need be.
Don't worry about the neighbors. Most of them understand.
Tell your kid, ''If you don't pick one of these options by the time I count to 3, then I will pick one for you.'' Or, ''Here are your 3 options for breakfast. There are no other options. Please pick one by the time I count to three. One...two.....
When I have my act together, even now that my kids are older, rather than arguing with them and yelling, I tell them that if they don't do _________, then their book will be put away for the resto of the day (or no TV, or no _). The length of time increases with the severity of their act or the seriousness of our need for cooperation. Anon
I would LOVE any suggestions people have for making mornings at our place more manageable. I'm about to go back to work in a few weeks and my 4-m.o. son will be joining my 3-y.o. son at daycare/preschool. We've been practicing getting out of the house so we arrive at school around 9 a.m., but my older son is starting to have more and more reasons to delay leaving the house and I'm worried I'll constantly be late for work.
School is a 15-20 minute drive away and is near where I work. It's taking us about two hours now -- WAY too long -- from kids' waking up to arriving at school.
Our constraints: husband as to leave v. early almost every morning so is not around when kids wake up around 7. Also, I'm still nursing the newborn and am trying to figure out his schedule so he doesn't wake up too early (needs attention and falls asleep before we get to school -- I'd rather he get a good nap there and not a catnap in the car).
But the big frustration is my older son and I feel bad b/c I always have to rush him, poor guy. He definitely loves preschool; once he's there it's fine. He just seems to hate playing alone in the morning and always wants to play Legos or pretend games with me, and turns to tears a lot when he gets frustrated. It's always ''I'm not done,'' or ''I have to finish making my X.''
I already try to get up and get ready before he's up but often he hears my husband leave and wakes up then. I've tried TiVoing Sesame St. but it's an hour long and doesn't help with finding the time to get breakfast or get dressed.
I guess I'm looking for advice on how to balance time with my older son and deal with his 3-yo-ness. Any tips? Thanks! Morning frazzled
I think we tend to expect too much, too fast of three-year- olds. Especially when there's a baby sibling in the picture. My own stress level went way down when I just accepted that my then 3yo needed more help and attention in the morning, and stopped trying to get him to completely dress himself. He's 6 now and I still lay out his clothes for him most mornings, but otherwise he's able to get ready to go on his own.
I also think that attempting to avoid car naps for a 4 month old is pretty much doomed to failure, and you should try to just relax about that. Babies can go to daycare still in pajamas, so perhaps that's the best way for you to shave some time off your morning rush. (When my younger child was that age, I had to dress her early because I took her to work with me. But my husband did most of the job of getting the elder child off to preschool. ''Divide and conquer'' has fortunately always been a fairly workable strategy for us.)
Some other strategies that could help you with the practical obstacles: Have your husband put breakfast on the table before he leaves, so that the 3yo can go eat while you're nursing the baby. Wear your baby while you help the 3yo dress. Or play with your 3yo while also getting ready to go by laying out his clothes in your room and having a race -- who can get fully dressed first? (Watching this may entertain the baby too.) Ask the 3yo to help you wash and dress the baby (which is more about occupying the 3yo than about actually getting any help with the process). Good luck! Wishes I Could Sleep Later Too
1)Be mindful of your own attitude: Often times as moms we are already anticipating the stress, battles and challenges before they arise. This is partially good because it helps us prepare for what may come. However, this is partially bad because we then put off an attitude or energy which communicates to our kids (whether we know it or not) that we already know this is going to go bad. I would suggest that you first sit down and think through how you really want the mornings to go and how you want them to feel. Put that vision in writing and see what ideas come up from that place as far as how you may best create that type of environment. You can then share that with your son and make him part of creating the plan; "If we want our mornings to be enjoyable and smooth so that we can all get where we need to be on time, what can we all do to make that happen?"
2)Put the plan in writing and post it where everyone can see it: This is a great time to teach and model what will be necessary to follow in school; "We have a plan and structure in place for a very important reason and we all have to do our part to make this work."
3)Be consistent: This is most challenging when you are tired and stressed and already running late, but consistency is really key in helping children adapt to new situations and routines (it's also really helpful for adults too!).
How your structure will look may be very different then anyone else's, but I find that parents who focus on the overall vision and feeling they want the situation to take, tend to be much more creative in the solutions that will work for their family. How can you make this a game that the entire family participates in? How can everyone get involved in creating enjoyable and smooth mornings which gets everyone out the door at the necessary times by incorporating certain actions the night before and in the morning?
If you want help strategizing and creating your own family vision and plan for success, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary coaching consultation. Besides being a mom myself, I am a life strategy specialist and coach who specializes in helping moms feel more efficient and effective at work and home. NT
Good luck! --doing the morning mamba--
Goal: out the door at 7:45am I wake up at 6am either alone or with the baby. Change baby. 6:30 - 6:50 Feed baby breakfast in high chair Put baby in room in some sort of time-occupying situation. 6:50 - 7am Dress myself. 7am Tell 3yr old to wake up, very nice and gentle like. 7:05 Dress baby. 7:10 Turn on bright lights and tell 3yr old breakfast is getting cold (he eats oatmeal or waffles). 7:11 Put on makeup. 7:14 check work email for any mishaps that happened. 7:15 Tell son to wake up or I'll start counting. 7:16 Start counting to ten. This gets 3yr old out of bed. I don't know why. 7:17-7:30 3yr old eats. 7:30: brush teeth with 3yr old 7:30-7:45: dress 3.5 year old, pack kids into car and leave.Something like that....;-)
HELP! I feel like I'm going to lose it every morning. I THINK my 4 year old is typical, but I feel like I need advice about handling the constant ''negotiation'' over EVERYTHING in the morning. She won't eat breakfast (I have to play games or actually ''feed'' her), she won't get dressed, she won't brush her teeth, and she won't brush her hair -- none of these unless we go through games, negotiations, battles, whatever I can think of on that particular morning. I try thinking of creative games: ''let's pretend I'm the dentist and you have an appointment'' -- that sometimes works. I try ''bribing/threatening:'' ''if you want to play with your doll you can do it while I brush your hair'' or ''your doll will have a time out if you don't cooperate.'' I try being ''firm:'' raising my voice and saying ''that's it,'' and getting angry (which I am). Maybe I am too inconsistent!! But NOTHING seems to work and I am SO discouraged by the time we get out the door. I could try using stickers (''you get a sticker if you cooperate on hair and teeth, and when you get 10, we do [something special]'') but I've heard that is not a good way to teach self-discipline (i.e. they learn to work for bribes). This all feels like a testament to my ability (or lack thereof) to discipline her. HELP!! telegraphhill
Successful tricks to making this work were 1) get up a little earlier to give her time to dawdle. Kids hate it when you say ''hurry up - you're going to be late'' it slows them down! 2)Don't repetedly tell them what they should be doing. ASK them what they should be doing. ''Great job Susie, you ate your breakfast, what do you do next?'' or ''Susie, are you supposed to be playing with your doll now?'' instead of ''stop playing and eat your breakfast.''
Every morning is not smooth as pie here but after about 2 months we were able to stop with the stamps. So she did not get addicted to the reward! We refer to getting ready as ''doing her Routine'' and I can generally get her re-focsued on the crazy days by just saying ''Hey - Routine?'' or reverting back to asking her what she is supposed to be doing. Good luck! Jen
Have you considered letting your daughter go to school without breakfast and/or in her pajamas? At this age, you have to pick your battles. Leave more of these decisions up to her. Kids this age want to assert their will and feel some independence, so let 'em - at least when it comes to things that do not matter as much in the long run. Teeth brushing was something I was more firm about. But still I tried to offer choices: who will brush your teeth first, you or me? I also talked about why teeth brushing was so important to me. I showed the many fillings in my teeth, and that was quite interesting to my child. We have also always told our daughter that if we do not get cooperation with hair brushing, her hair will be cut short so that brushing is not as important. Our message was something like, ''Hey, don't brush the hair for my sake; I really don't need you to have pretty hair. That choice is yours.'' That approach can be applied to breakfast, dressing, etc. (Of course, if your child is at risk for malnourishment, that is another story.) I remember when a mom brought her child to school one day in her underwear (clothes in a bag), and that was the last morning they fought about that issue.
Rereading this, I wonder if this might sound cold and unloving, but it is really just respecting the child's independence in an arena where she wants it and where it is safe to do so. And isn't that what parenting is: gradually giving up the control and decision-making power so that the child can learn to take over for him- or herself? Burr
Hi, I know its been handled on this forum before in a theoretic discussion, but I would very much appreciate hearing how you handle this yourself and any tips. My daughter 2.5 years, just started fulltime montessori July 1, when I started working full time. (8:30- 5:30). Before that she had been going 9-2:30, while I was still at home. We cant seem to get out the door in the morning w/o at least 1 episode of crying. Sometimes she doesnt want to brush, sometimes she doesnt want to eat, sometimes she wants me to hold her all morning, specially when I sit to breastfeed my 5M son before we leave. Today, she had a full blown meltdown. She didnt want to brush her teeth, so I said, she cant have breakfast till she does. She sat in the bathroom for a full 45 minutes, alternately crying and calm, basically toying with me- saying she would brush and then changing her mind. Finally when she saw I was ready to leave and was not going to give in, she let her teeth be brushed. She then cooperated to have her clothes changed, but started up again, when I took my son for a feed. In the end, I had to stop feeding my son and give him to my aunt ( who cares for him while Im at work) and just pack up and leave with my daughter. Today was really hard for me- I was in tears at the optionlessness of it all- Sorry for winding on and venting, but I really need advice- Im sure I feel worse partly because of guilt- I just started working and this is all new to my daughter as well. Help! anon
First order of business in the morning should be breakfast. Teeth are better brushed afterwards, so don't even try to brush them before breakfast. Many hungry children refuse to eat, and adamantly deny that they are hungry. I have found that when children won't eat in the morning, you need to prime the eating pump. Give them something you know they will eat that has at least some nutritional value to get them into the whole eating idea, and raise their blood sugar enough that they are not frantic. A small cup of juice, a small piece (1/4) of a chocolate balance bar (! -- feel guilty about this, but at least it has protein and vitamins), whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes or french toast with syrup, cheerios, raspberries or strawberries with a little sugar (NB- slippery slope, may refuse to have them without sugar) have all worked for us. Usually, they will then have calmed down enough to eat healthy food. If not, then at least their behavior will have improved owing to the sugar and calories. I have found that a breakfast served in front of an educational video gets my children to sit and eat for longer than if they were not entertained during breakfast. If I am not running around I read to them during breakfast, which also keeps them seated long enough to have a decent meal. While your child eats and plugs in or you read to her (you can chose short videos of 15-20 minutes, so as to minimize morning TV time) you can breastfeed your son.
After your child has eaten, everything should be easier! Never get into a showdown with a hungry child (as in toothbrusing incident). Hungry children are completely irrational and unable to make good choices. Hysterical crying is practically guaranteed. All mandatory unpleasant activities should follow eating!!
If you need to breastfeed your baby again before going out, make sure to have some activity ready for your older child. Put out markers and paper, scissors and paper or straw or ribbon to cut 2.5 year-olds just love to master scissor use with endless snipping, playdough, watercolor paints, playdough or clay and toothpicks to make ''sea urchins'' kinda dangerous, maybe, but my 2-year-old LOVES it. (By the way, if you decide to allow the use of toothpicks, you will find that any food served on the end of a toothpick is inherently more attractive and delicious than any food not on a toothpick --- at least to a 2-year-old) Or, if creativity fails, video again may be called for. Great educational videos for 2-year-olds ''See How THey GRow'' series (see how pets, insects, pond animals, etc. grow ), Microcosmos, I Dig Dirt. You can talk to your daughter about the animals/trucks while you breastfeed your baby, so it's a little more interactive and less electronic-babysittery. susan
You can't take the sibling away :), but you can get her into a more nurturing situation (nanny instead of preschool? friend instead of preschhol? aunt instead of preschool?) or you could change your work schedule.
If you can't change your work schedule and must keep her at daycare, you need to address her feelings. Determine if she feels she's being abandoned and/or there are simply enormous changes. Enlist her help - see what might make it easier to get things going in the am.
Dump the little things. She can brush her teeth at preschool. Let her sleep in her daytime clothes so you don't have to get her dressed first thing. Make a breaskfast she can eat in the car - little things so that all she has to do is walk from bed to the car. Course that's assuming you can get her into the car. :)
Make sure that she understands that you understand her feelings. She'll still rant and rave - but that's ok - she's just getting her feelings out - and if she feels understood, it will probably be a shorter rant/rave (so far this has worked with 3 out of my 4 kids - 4th is too young to tell).
So, long story short, in your place on that morning, I simply would have given up the toothbrushing and sat on the floor with her and reflected her feelings to her - while nursing the baby - and nursing her too (is she weaned?). If she is weaned, then, holding her on my lap (I have a 2.5yo and a 9mo, so I do this from time to time :)). I would have continued getting ready; talking to her, reflecting feelings and gradually (cause you can't reflect feelings forever) started talking about the day ahead and what we were going to do. WHile talking, nursing the baby (slings are great for that) and getting ready I would have made a special breakfast for her that she could eat in the car. Maybe at night you two could make her breakfast ahead of time - she could ''order'' what she wants and the two of you could make it up - might make mornings a little easier.
Anyway, if you could read through the rambling, there might be an idea or two in there. kathy
I feel the rush and the frustration that you express in your message (we, too, have an infant), but it will work out! Good luck to you! Another working mom
1. Your daughter has a lot on her little plate: mami is gone + she is dispatched to school + there is this other little person around.....
2. You are possibly running high on guilt about going to work and your daughter feels it.
Here is what we do: first I am always VERY happy to go to work, 'Mamma goes to work, daddy goes to the boathouse, I go to school. HOW COOL!'' We LOVE going to school and to the office! It helps that I do like my job but even when I felt like burning my office down I was always very upbeat about it !
We try to make morning interesting, not rushed, even if I am terribly rushed as i have to make it to the office by 9.00... I try to get up earlier, put myself somewhat together and wake her up so that we can snuggle for a little while.. This morning we were playing puzzles at 6.30, then we had do rearrange the dollhouse but we found time to hung the laundry together.... I give her little chores ''here is mamma lunchbox can you put it in my bag?''... she likes to help and it keeps her going. And there is no time for whining
She gets to choose what she wants to wear, even if it is her pijiama... and what she wants for breakfast... if she does not want to eat we take one of these squeazable stonefield yogurt, a few almonds or raisins, and a bottle of milk and we go in the car. Teeth, hair, etc... are all optionals... The goal is to get out of the house by 8am and happily, we will concentrate on looks later on
Granted, not all mornings are perfect....(and I do not have a second kid but perhaps a sling could help, I still use it when my daughter is in hugging-mode) Could the person who takes care of your son perhaps come a little earlier (?) so that you can have more one-on-one time with your daughter? In my case my husband (who generally leaves the house very early) , comes back home two mornings a week (and than goes back to work) so that he can take my daughter to school a little later than usual. This makes things interesting as we (parents) do things diffently, he takes her for breakfast at the cheeseboard, or they drive me to bart this also helps to ease the departure
I have also took my daughter to see my office: she saw her pictures on my desk, one of my collegues made a paper airplane for her, we went home using the train now she speaks about it and it helps her visualize where mamma is when mamma is at the office. Good luck silvia
Please help me with your suggestions on getting a child and mom out the door HAPPILY on weekday mornings. My son is 8 1/2 and I am a single mom trying to get to work by 8:30 a.m. He wants me to get him up earlier (alarm clocks don't awaken him) however, if I get him up at 7:00 he wants to take a shower, then he stands in there for 10-20 minutes, he can't find this or that, comes to breakfast half dressed, then just when I'm walking out the door he can't find his backpack, and the rest of his homework, when I had asked him earlier to gather this stuff. All of these problems are not new, we have battled over the same thing weekly, over the past few years. Uggh. I'm SO tired of having to ask him to do every little thing EVERY DAY (often being ignored)! And I hate being a nag, and feel very guilty, when I start saying mean threats (like, you will have to pay $5 for every wet towel left on the ground.) And it is very hurtful and frightening when my son responds with "why don't you move to New Jersey!" etc. There are a lot of good aspects to our relationship and i don't want to damage these. Obviously, neither of us is doing a good job solving our morning problem. I'm wondering what people mihgt have to offer for suggestions. Thank You.
My son as of two weeks is a cooperative, happy child. He pops out of bed each morning and immediately proceeds to dress himself, brush his hair etc. He packs his backpack with his lunch, gets his violin, remembers to put his homework in, puts his shoes on with no argument, etc. etc. I have to hurry to keep up with him and do my part like have his lunch ready and get his breakfast. We haven't had an argument in two weeks about what he's having for breakfast (he used to not answer me when I'd ask him what he wanted then he'd have a fit because he didn't want what I'd prepared). When we come home from school he rushes to do his homework if he hasn't finished it at his afterschool care (I couldn't get him to do it there before), he asks if he can take his shower before dinner, he comes running to dinner when I call, and does a chore, practices his piano, gets ready for bed and calls me to read to him. All of this without may saying one single thing. I don't remind him, I don't push him! My life has changed. I have time now in the evenings!
How? What book did I read? Method did I apply? Well, it's called the "Dry erase board method". Two weeks ago, through a misdunderstanding I ended up getting my son a dry erase board. He was having an anxiety attack all the way home trying to figure out what he would use it for. Then he decided I would use it to write his schedule. He divided the board in half and asked me to write his morning schedule on one side and the afternoon schedule on the other. In the mean time he used his bulleting board to pin up what he wanted for breakfast the whole week. The next morning I whispered in his ear "get up, it's 7:30 and you need to get up to stay on schedule". He popped out of bed and that's the way it's been ever since. Now he challenges himself to beat his schedule so his free time (which he gets in the morning and the afternoon) is longer. He's happy, cooperative and now does things I don't even ask. He loves not being told what to do and feels like he's in control. I hope this helps. If you want to talk more about it please post your email or ask the moderator to forward an email to me. I'd be happy to talk to you.
In the morning, I wake him up 5 - 10 minutes before I really want him up. This gives him time to fully wake up, to stretch and to yawn before he needs to get into gear.
The only time that this "plan" has not worked, is when my son decides that he wants to wear something other than what he has chosen the night before. In this case, I remind him that he chose this particular outfit. If he wants to wear something different, he has to wait until tomorrow. If he continues to argue or whine, he will forfeit t.v. time or a special snack / dessert later in the evening. I stick to the "punishment" in the evenings with a reminder that "this morning's behavior is the reason why you do not get XYZ". I also do not stand and argue with him in the morning. When I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go. He knows that he had better be ready as well. Inevitably, he picks up the pace so that I don't leave him (which I have never done). I'm not sure how well this will work on an 8 year old.
I am sorry that this has gotten long-winded. But, my point is that taking a few extra minutes at night seems to save alot of headache and heartache in the morning.
One thing no one ever thinks of: Leaving the house by 8:30 every morning probably isn't your idea of a nifty way to start the day; it's just the way things are. Therefore, the consequences of not being ready come to your son from the larger world. The only things you HAVE to do are:
1. Offer him food
2. Get him to school
3. Make sure he wears a seat belt
4. Do not abuse him in the process.
Things you are not ultimately responsible for include:
1. What s/he's wearing
2. Whether s/he eats
3. Whether s/he brings what s/he needs for school
4. How s/he feels about all this.
By the time a child is 8, s/he is ready to take responsibility for the second list. I suggest you phase yourselves in to this approach. Start by talking about it; maybe say you want to start a new approach, you will start doing it this way next week. Then help him walk through how he can prepare himself (what can he get ready before bed the night before, shall you still wake him and and what time, etc.).
Backup plans include: 1. Put some clothes in a paper bag and, if she's not ready on time, take her in her PJ's and the clothes to change at school. Most children will make sure they're dressed when they realize you will really take them to school in their PJ's; if not, you won't have to do this more than once or twice.
2. If you can't bear to send your child to school on an empty stomach, keep a package of undesirable crackers in the car. These are the kind that no one wants to eat when they get the munchies, but a person who is really hungry will eat them. This way they will be there when you want them.
3. You may have to be brave about the homework that gets left at home. If it's not possible for you to get it, it's better for your child to get a bad grade in grade school than to believe that they can be irresponsible and Mom or Dad will fix it.
4. You may also have to be brave about your child's feelings about facing unpleasant consequences and having to do things they don't want to do. As long as you think the consequences are actually not going to be that traumatic (not likely in this case), it is better for your child to face the consequences of his irresponsibility now than when he is older and the consequences are much more severe.
I know this sounds severe. However, you didn't make a world that requires children to be at school when they would rather be asleep or watching TV. Your job is to teach them how to meet these obligations, and it isn't easy. It takes a lot of courage and a willingness to let your child be unhappy about the way things are. It isn't your fault. I hope this helps. ---------- Here are some strategies that work for me to get myself and 1 1/2 year old out the door on time in the morning. I don't know about you, but I am often in "time-denial" and think I can get more done than is possible in a given amount of time.
- Prepare as much as possible the night before: lunches (yours and his), backpacks, coats, shoes, keys, etc. Put all things by the door (other than lunches, of course). If you are apt to forget the lunch in the fridge, put a note on top of the backpack.
- Make a commitment with yourself to leave the house at a time that gives you plenty of time to get in the car and get to your destination. It's a wonder what arriving early will do for your stress level. You may find that with a more relaxed attitude on your part, your son will be more cooperative.
- Not having an eight year old, I can't say what amount of time is right for a shower, but 20 minutes sounds like too long. What about using a timer (maybe a fun one in the shape of an animal or vegetable -- available at cooking stores) so that he knows when he has to get out of the shower. Perhaps this is a case where a reward system is merited. I recall a parent describing a system she used for her child who wanted to sleep in the parents' bed that might work for you. It involved having a jar of marbles, maybe twenty or so. Everytime the child did the desired behavior (sleeping in her bed all night), she got to take a marble out of the parents' jar and put it in her own. As she continued to do the desired behavior, her jar of marbles grew, and that's something every kid can appreciate. If she chose to sleep in her parents' bed, then she had to give them a marble. Once she had all the marbles in her jar, she got a reward of her choice which was decided upon at the start of the whole process. Perhaps this will work with your son. If he takes his shower in 10 minutes or less, then he gets a marble. If he goes over, he has to give you a marble. As soon as he has all the marbles, he gets the reward you have mutually decided on in the beginning. I hope some or all of this helps. Good luck!
As for the other stuff --- How about offering him a reward for getting ready to walk out the door on time? What does he love? For my 8 year old, it's GameBoy time. Ever since he got his GameBoy at Christmas, he can play it as soon as he is ready to go to school in the morning (dressed, breakfasted, *socks on*, etc.). Now most mornings he is ready to go before I am. It won't last forever, but when the GameBoy loses it's shine, I'll look for something else. Also these bribes (ahem, *incentives* :-) seem to help by getting them in the habit of complying. Good luck!
1. Most importantly, plan ahead! Prepare breakfast to the extent possible. Have lunch boxes and backpacks ready! Prepare anything else that can be prepared the night before. In your case, this can involve taking the shower/bath the night before. And choosing the outfit ahead of time and lay them next to his bed (including underwear, socks, hat, etc.). Ask him to choose them.
2. Teach the child what to expect in a fun way. For example, I wrote a "week song" (Sunday, church, Monday-Friday preshcool,...) and a "routine song." (get up, say good morning, go potty, wash face, ...breakfast...). With singing and fun, the tasks can go a bit smoother. This is geared toward toddlers. For an eight-year-old, I guess you can try to set up clear goals, for example, finish breakfast by 7:30, be out of the door by 7:45. Make them their goals too not only yours.
3. Give them choices: ask them to choose which socks to wear, then they may have more interests to put them on themselves. Encourage them to do it. Same goes for shirt, jacket, etc. Only have two sets of choices available. Otherwise, it becomes a struggle. This trick helps my toddler to be more cooperative (not running away from me when I say time to put on...). A basic principle is to involve them more and try to make routine things more fun! More examples: say or sing hello, good morning to the clothes, cereal; imagine pants/sleeves are tunnels for trains to go through with sound (chacha too-too-). For older kids, you can involve them in baking muffins, devil eggs, (the night or Sunday before) etc.
Do not cut corners on breakfast, a very important meal to start off the day. Hope this helps and happy parenting, a continuous learning process.
My kids are 14 and 17. The morning rush can be a huge drag and I can remember some really nasty early morning yelling episodes when the older one was 13. Everything ticked him off. What a way to start the day, huh? Mine have always gotten their own breakfast since they were old enough to pour milk, and they've been getting to school on their own - walking or catching the bus - since 2nd grade. But they were both 13 or 14 before they were really waking themselves up, getting out of bed, showering and dressing without any intervention from me. I feel certain other parents must be more successful than I was at this. But that was my experience plain and simple, despite years of trying to get them to do it on their own. The 14-year-old until this school year never heard the alarm go off, or would turn it off and go back to sleep, or would argue with me, in his sleep, about what time it was and how much time he needed to get out of the house. So for some kids it may just be a matter of getting older.
Here are some ideas that worked for me:
- let them pick out their own alarm clock - I recommend one with a radio so they can wake up to their own music. My kids also like big numbers on the display and they like auto shut-off. They listen to the radio while they are getting dressed and then it cuts off after they leave for school.
- make sure the backpack is packed the night before and waiting by the front door.
- new clothes are very motivational
- let them eat what they want for breakfast and get special treats sometimes
- let them develop their own morning routine. One of my kids always makes the same old Kix every morning and then spends 30 minutes reading the sports page every morning. He always leaves on time. The other one rushes downstairs with 5 minutes to spare, often wants non-traditional breakfast food like a leftover hamburger, or sushi, or a milkshake.
- if they are grouchy when they get up (mine are), don't talk to them. They don't seem to mind if you hang out in the kitchen while they are eating though, as long as you don't talk.
- try to spare 15 or 20 minutes of no-stress morning time when you are just hanging out with them - even if you're reading the paper or doing chores at the same time. For me, this has been the time when important topics have come up spontaneously - politics, drugs, sex, fights at school, etc.
- I always give them a good-bye kiss on the cheek as they are leaving (or on the back of the head or in the air when they are rushing by fast). sometimes they try to dodge me but they seem disappointed if I forget and I think it sweetens the morning for all of us.
- Assuming they have an alarm clock, and there is food in the house, at some point you have to leave it to them to get themslves up and out of the house. For me the point was about 14. Let them be late for school if they don't get up in time. When I started leaving the house early a couple mornings a week, they figured out that if they didn't get themselves up, nobody would, and they'd be late. It only took a few days to work.
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