So how do we manage to fit everything into our day and still display cool, calm contentedness to our children?
Well firstly, nothing is black and white – and we are human! It is SO important to be authentic about our feelings with our children. Do you think I feel like smiling patiently at my dawdling child while she draws pictures instead of getting ready? NO! If I have an agenda (and let’s face it, we ALWAYS do) it is not authentic to say “Oh, you’re having fun!” when I want to shout “What are you doing? We need to leave in 5 minutes!!”
So, what can we do to make our agenda partly THEIR agenda? How can we make our kids take more responsibility and respond more immediately to our pleading requests?
Here are 3 easy ideas that have helped me gain BACK some time in my day and stay CALM in the process.
1. Job Rosters. Not the shiny, commercial ones you see at the news agency but an all-in, butchers paper and pens kinda roster. Sit down with your children at a ‘non-stressful’ time and discuss – ‘what do we need to do in the morning? Or Afternoon? Or night?’ It needs to be age and ability appropriate. It may have pictures, tick off boxes, labels, Velcro – whatever floats your boat. But the important thing is that it reflects STRUCTURE and is followed every day by your children.
2. When the job roster is done, follow up with a description or a word. So, they are dressed and had breakfast – but then stopped to play with the dog. Instead of launching into a lecture – use what you’ve already made (the job chart!). “I see you’re dress and have had breakfast. Next is clean your teeth”. Try and avoid hovering, begging, arguing or yelling. It helps to keep yourself busy or even leave the room. If you come back and it’s still not done, firmly use a one word reminder. “Teeth!”
3. Reflect. This is always going to be a work in progress. Often on my journey to school we discuss how the morning went. For example, “You got dressed and ate breakfast without any reminders today. That was helpful! Tomorrow, let’s see if your teeth can be done as well.” Make it descriptive without blaming or accusing. You may be met with eye rolls and arguments, however in my experience the more regularly we practice this reflection, the more responsibility for their actions they seem to take.
Like a boy scout, we need to be prepared. The more proactive we can be in addressing problems BEFORE they arise, the more smoothly we can tackle them and GAIN BACK some time in our mornings, afternoons… evenings and weekends.
And when it fails, and no doubt it will, think – ‘how could I try this again tomorrow?’
And when it works, high five yourself, make a cuppa tea and flick on your favourite TV show with a smile.
Article by Megan Warren from Key to Kids www.keytokids.com.au
Megan Warren is a qualified teacher and mother of two, with over 14 years teaching experience in Australia and the United Kingdom. She has taught children ranging from Prep to Year 7 and has a particular interest in behaviour management. Megan has been recognised for her communication skills through leadership in school behaviour management committees.