Who’s the boss? continued

A while ago someone asked for an update on our morning routine. Well, it’s been almost a year since I wrote the “Dream come true” post, and I’m happy to report that our mornings have remained completely transformed. In a nutshell, what that means is that I do nothing, zilch, nada for my girls in the morning. My job now is to take care of me, offer encouragement here and there, and make sure I’m sitting in the car by 7:40am. That’s it.

I used to think that going down the rabbit hole with my kids 2 or 3 mornings a week was just part of motherhood. Mornings are hard — everyone says so. I would gripe about it with other moms. Yep, we all struggle with the inevitable mornings-from-hell. No way around it. Just have to plow through.

That all changed as soon as I learned how to get out of my kids’ way. (btw, I’ve decided to make mouth tape a first-day-of-school annual family tradition!)

That said, however, recently I wrote about how Ellen and Charlotte were getting in each others’ way, especially in the morning. Vicki helped me think about ways to motivate them to untangle themselves and we’ve made big progress.

First, we tweaked our bedtime routine. We talked about how they would now be on their own for earning a bedtime visit each night so Ellen wouldn’t feel the need to make sure about Charlotte by doing her contributions for her and begging and bribing and bossing.

Toward the end of our talk Charlotte said, with tears in her eyes: “But mom, I’m not comfortable with that without Ellen!” (Turtle stress alert!)

Me: “It seems weird and different?”

Charlotte: “Yeah!”

Me: “You can do this, Charlotte, and dad and I will be right here the whole time.”

Charlotte (tiny voice): “Okay.”

Twenty minutes later she came to find us just bursting with pride: “Mom! I’m ready! And go check out my contribution!” The living room was all cleaned up and organized. No help from Ellen. Score.

This felt like a big change, so I was going to wait a few days before doing anything differently in the morning. But the very next day, Charlotte and Ellen were deep into it. Charlotte was doing her rag-doll impression on the couch and Ellen was leaning over her, “Charlotte! You’re not listening! It’s time to make your lunch!”

I called Ellen over to me: “Hey, what’s up?”

Ellen: “Everything’s fine until she decides she doesn’t like my method and then she won’t do anything!”

Me: “What’s it like for you to be making sure that Charlotte’s ready for school every morning?”

Ellen: “It’s hard and we fight and I don’t like it.”

Me: “So what will it take for you to quit that job completely?”

Ellen: “To know that I won’t be late for school. I don’t like being late, it’s embarrassing.” (Eagle alert!)

So then I said the only thing I could think of: “Ok, I’m not willing to leave Charlotte here by herself all day, but what if we say that, no matter what, the car leaves at 7:40 and if anyone’s left behind, I will come back to get them after I drop off at school?” (Not ideal for me, but I was trusting that this would turn out to be a rare event.)

Ellen: “You mean you’ll just leave her but then come back?”

Me: “Yes.”

Ellen: “Yeah. That works.”

I went over to the rag doll and gently explained what I was going to do. “You mean now?” she said with a touch of panic in her voice, “You’re going to start today?” “Yes. You can do it. You still have half-an-hour.”

She groaned, got her stuff together, and to my great relief, was in the car and ready at 7:39.

To be continued … again …

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Contributions

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