Growing up, my Dad always said: There’s a Hard Way and an Easy Way. For whatever reason, I chose the hard one- and ended up with a few more beats, bumps and bruises along the way.
Probably like you, our kids wake up for school in the dark. I’m not a morning person. I would much rather see the sun Set than the sun Rise; and I’m a firm believer it’s not truly daytime, when the moon is still up at 6am.
I’m always asking moms how they handle morning routines, after school snacks and endless laundry. There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel. I’d rather copy it.
Does this sound familiar? I would get up 30 minutes before the kids woke up, commence to make lunches and realize we’re out of bread. Hmmm . . . there’s no cereal for breakfast and only 3 mis-matched socks in the laundry basket. I was spinning my wheels, trying to re-configure Plan A with Plan C about the time the kids were waking up.
“Mom! said child #1: Where’s the socks . . . One is crying, I don’t want to take a frozen burrito to school – there’s no microwave.” Child #3 is still sleeping, after I’ve run up the stairs twice to wake him and Child #2 is upset because he wanted cereal, instead of last night’s pork chop for breakfast. Poor kids, what a mess. If only I were organized!
I have 3 boys in school: Pre-k, 1st & 3rd. I know what it’s like to bribe, fight, cry and whine my way through morning rush hour to get them to brush their teeth, eat breakfast and get dressed in the morning. Then one day, after dreading the morning routine, I decided enough was enough. I’m the boss of this joint and I’m not gonna take it anymore. If there was going to be a Revolt, it was coming from me!
And just like that, the Pletka family went through boot camp 101. Like a captain in the Army, I put them in a single file line and we marched from upstairs to downstairs, acting out the way I wanted “Morning Routine” to look like. The baby followed along with her blankie dragging behind. No more whining . . . no more crying . . . no more “I don’t wanna wear that.” Nope, nada, nein, not gonna happen.
I lined them up one by one and asked: Are you potty trained? Yes Mom! Do you know where the spoons are located? Yes Mom. Do you know how to pour Milk? And the list went on. Just like the movie Dodgeball, in a scruffy, old, cynical voice he said: If you can Dodge a Wrench, you can Dodge a Ball . . . My theory was: If you can pour milk, you can feed yourself!
And this is how it went down: I began placing cereal in a bowl with a spoon in it, the night before. All they have to do is pour the milk and eat.
In the evenings, when we make lunches for the kids, I lay out their clothes, socks, shoes, back packs, lunch boxes, the whole enchilada, to make this portion of the day, run like a well-oiled machine. If a pair of socks or one shoe is missing, it can be a deal breaker – put a glitch in the morning, maybe miss the bus and everyone’s in a bad mood. If Jr.’s shoes are outside under the trampoline, you’re up the creek.
We placed alarm clocks in each room, so they go off at the same time, or pretty darn close. They come running down the stairs, trying to pass each other along the way. It sounds like a herd of animals running on their heels, beating and thumping all the way down. This, in turn, becomes my alarm clock.
While one is eating breakfast, the other brushes his teeth and yet another is putting on his clothes. They circulate through the 3 step process with minutes to spare. Life is much better, now that we have a system in place. They feel a little more independent, I’m relinquished of my role as drill sergeant and am realizing these little guys are growing up fast and I need to freeze frame all the moments.
Life has changed. We sleep a 1/2 an hour longer, lunches are pre-made at night, outfits are pre-approved and the kids are much happier.
I’m amazed at how children can step up and make it happen, when we raise the bar and increase our expectations of them. There’s a Hard Way and an Easy Way, both with the same destination, but how you get there, can make ya or break ya. Enjoy Your Life!
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, so when he’s old, he will not depart from it.