Friday, September 7, 2012

I Was Not A Good Mom This Morning

I'll fully admit that I was not a good mom this morning. That said, I could have been much worse. I didn't yell. I didn't touch a child. There were no emotional or physical scars left. But I'm still angry and irritated - albeit perhaps somewhat irrationally so, as the wee ones are only 7 and 8. But... it's reality.

And this?  This was the breakfast table at 8:30 after the wee ones had boarded the bus for school.  On the plus side, I didn't have to make myself breakfast because there was plenty sitting right here.

Bowl of yogurt, milk and vitamins that didn't get eaten

 I didn't get a full night's sleep because I woke up from an utterly bizarre dream at 4am. That isn't an excuse, but I know myself, and I get crabby when I don't have sufficient sleep. Compounded with things that don't go as they could, my temper can flare, and getting the wee ones ready for the bus has been a struggle all week.

 At 7:10 this morning - an hour and ten minutes before their bus was scheduled to arrive to pick them up for school - I headed into Mister Man's room, where I found both the wee ones in their pjs, quietly playing. As they spotted me, the whining began that they hadn't had enough time to play. I'm used to it. I get the same whining every morning, no matter what. But, Mooooom, Mister Man whined in his best two year old voice, I was just about to start a game.  Sorry, Kiddo.  It's time for school, so I need you to get dressed.

Little Miss began picking up her Puffles and gave me a hug before heading to her room to change.  Mister Man chose to crawl under his covers to hide.  I explained that I wasn't playing that game and they needed to get dressed and come down for breakfast just like they have done for the past six years. (My emphasis now, not then.)  I got breakfast orders and headed downstairs to make breakfasts and lunches for everyone except me.

I didn't hear noises that sounded like anyone getting dressed.  In fact, the noises sounded like Star Wars Fighter Pods being connected and unconnected.  I sighed and continued on my way, deciding that maybe today was the day for natural consequences.  If they weren't down by the time I finished with breakfasts and lunches and was ready to head upstairs to get myself dressed, I would send them down and they could eat what they got to by 8am - still leaving them nearly a half hour to eat.

As I boiled water in a kettle to help keep the Thermos warm for the honey chicken Mister Man was getting in his lunch, I heard a new noise, one that included giggling.  The wee ones were not coming down to breakfast - which was now sitting on the kitchen table getting warm (for Mister Man) and cold (for Little Miss) - but instead were playing with the nightlight in the hallway, changing its colors.  My blood pressure started to rise.

By the time I finished with lunches and set the lunches and snacks for school on the steps for them to pack into backpacks, there was still nary a child in sight, although I had explained that breakfast was ready and sitting on the table.  I climbed the stairs to find the wee ones wrestling in the hallway, presumably over control of the nightlight, atop the sheets I had just washed and folded but not yet put away.  They decided to go eat breakfast.

While I was getting dressed, the wee ones called to me.  Meow - who is not allowed near the table when anyone is eating because I don't like begging, nor do I want to encourage him to think people food is his food and yes, everyone in the house knows the rule - had managed to knock Little Miss's milk over with his tail.  I closed my eyes and continued getting dressed, deciding benign neglect at this point was better than blowing my top.

By the time I finished getting dressed - note, no makeup or hair or even teeth brushed for me yet, as that happens after the wee ones are off to school - and headed downstairs, I was doing deep breathing exercises.  It was now 8am, and I had milk to clean up.  Mister Man was sitting at the table reading a magazine (another no-no) and hadn't touched his breakfast.  Neither child had socks on.  Mister Man didn't have his glasses.

I reiterated what still needed to be done: lunches and snacks into backpacks, breakfasts eaten, vitamins taken, teeth brushed, socks on, glasses on, shoes on.  Oh, and that they didn't have much time left.  Little Miss - knowing this wasn't going to end well - quickly got up and put her dishes away and headed on to her next tasks.  Mister Man gave the verbal agreement and continued with his magazine.

When the bus pulled into our driveway at 8:20am, Little Miss was ready... except for her unbrushed hair.  She managed to escape out the door before I could catch her and so now is at school looking like she has a pet rat who sleeps in her hair.  Mister Man had to be sent upstairs while the bus waited (thank goodness this isn't the regular bus that waits for no one) for his glasses.  And socks.  And I'm pretty sure his reading log never got filled out.

And they were off to school.  I'm still angry that the cat was apparently on the kitchen table and knocked over milk.  And that Mister Man chose to read a magazine at the table instead of eating his breakfast.  And that they were wrestling on my clean sheets.  And that they were playing instead of getting ready for school as they'd been asked to do and as they know they have to do every morning.  And that Mister Man was throwing attitude at me about getting ready - from the time I explained that he needed to get dressed until the time he stomped back down the stairs with his glasses and socks.

But I didn't yell.  I didn't threaten them with anything.  I didn't say anything mean to them.  And obviously I didn't physically touch them.  That feels like such a hollow victory.

I'm not sure why getting ready has been so difficult this week.  I'm not sure if it's the "extra time" we now have since the bus comes 20 minutes later than the time we used have to get out the door.  I'm not sure if they simply need more sleep.  I'm really not sure what it is.  Yesterday, I resorted to spoon feeding Mister Man his breakfast like he was a baby because he was taking so long.  He didn't like it.  Neither did I.  Today I went a different route of benign neglect that still wasn't being the good mom I want to be.

So on Monday, we're going to try something different.  This weekend, I'm going to sit down with them and explain what I was unhappy with and why today.  And we're going to talk about what needs to happen at what time.  Both the wee ones have small whiteboards, and I'm going to use them as checklists for the wee ones because I can't keep reminding them to move move move every five minutes.  I'll leave them outside their rooms at night, and they can carry them with them as they get ready in the morning.

The wee ones' chores to do each morning

Something has to change.  And as the parent, it has to be me.  I will raise independent and responsible children one way or the other.  How do you ensure that you get everyone out the door in the morning?


Lisa Hanneman September 7, 2012 at 9:53 AM  

Ugh. Sorry your day started out so bumpy. We're just at the point of trying to get our 4 yo to get into a routine and do things for himself. So, this is our weekend when we create the sticker chart! I could use any other advice you have in getting a 4 yo to use the bathroom, make his bed, put his dishes in the sink, and brush his teeth!

Unknown Mami September 7, 2012 at 12:15 PM  

It's always a struggle. My four year old likes to do things on her own schedule.

Not a Perfect Mom September 7, 2012 at 5:33 PM  

I know exactly how you feel! I finally had to make the rule that there is absolutely no playing of any kind until breakfast is eaten, teeth are brushed, and clothes are on....
or else my Jack will just dawdle and I don't have time to baby sit him in the morning...I have to get myself ready and the baby is still just 2 1/2, I have to get her all already too and supervise my 4 year old....
I had to be super strict with the boys to ensure my sanity...because our mornings? weren't pretty either

Sandra September 7, 2012 at 6:04 PM  

Oh, Michelle, I can totally relate. In fact, all moms who have to get kids out the door can. My kids don't wake up by themselves. I wake them up (another stress) and they have very little time between opening their eyes and getting ready and eating breakfast and going out the door. There's no extra time to do anything, much less play. I've managed for 2 weeks, but I can see how so little time in the morning will cause a fail one day. In fact, this is going to be my next post.

I like your chart, and I hope that this new strategy will work with the wee ones. Kudos to you for not yelling, cuz I would have lost it with the spilled milk. I hope next week is much, much better for you!

Pat September 9, 2012 at 7:25 PM  

My husband drove the kids to the high school (he taught there) where they caught the bus to their school, and they all left the house around 7:30 or just before. Jerry had a very authoritarian parenting style, so they were always ready to go on time, not wanting the wrath of Dad to fall on them. I never asked them what they wanted for breakfast; I just prepared old-fashioned oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar cooked in the microwave every single school morning for them. They were fine with that. In middle school & hs, they had cold cereal. I don't recall any playing around or dawdling. They seriously did not want to get yelled at by Dad. But we had a unique situation in comparison with most families.

anymommy September 9, 2012 at 11:16 PM  

Wait, I might consider this *good* parenting in my world. No, I understand, I make resolutions for change at 3:00 a.m. when I can't sleep. Some of the changes are actually really positive!

Polish Mama on the Prairie September 10, 2012 at 11:12 AM  

I've been having the same issues this past week. I'll have to try sitting down with them and explaining everything. It's so frustrating. And no, I don't resort to yelling or hitting either. I love this age because they are becoming independant. I hate this age because they are becoming independant.

Michelle September 10, 2012 at 12:18 PM  

Lisa - It was one of those days where everything just piled up too fast and had for too long. The only way we've gotten the wee ones to do all that is to remind them constantly - and we did rewards from the sticker chart, too. I think I posted on it at some point :)

Unknown Mami - Ummm yes. And those creative schedules don't always work. I feel your pain!

Holly - The problem with that rule is that the wee ones wake up before me and play, so it gets hard. But the toys are about to be removed from most areas....

Sandra - I will admit that the 95% of the time I don't have to wake them up is a blessing. I need to focus on that more.

Pat - We will be doing that once we hit middle school - I hope. Mister Man has the same breakfast every day, but I let Little Miss choose between oatmeal and scrambled eggs. Oddly, it's him that is the bigger issue though. Usually ;)

Stacey - So what are your most positive changes? I need some inspiration!

Polish Mama - Yep, we sat down and explained a lot, too. The dry erase board helped this morning. Except that the bus showed up at 8:10 instead of 8:20. But we were still just about ready! Yay for no yelling or hitting.

septembermom September 10, 2012 at 12:42 PM  

I'm lucky that most of my kids move pretty well independently on school mornings. My "surfer" son does need an added push or two though. You should here me telling this almost 13 year old, "MOVE the toothbrush!!"

I think the dry erase board is a terrific idea.

Michelle September 10, 2012 at 1:40 PM  

Kelly - I'm hoping that we'll get to that independent stage, but we're nowhere there. It was better today because of the whiteboard, but tomorrow? Who knows!

Mei September 10, 2012 at 3:49 PM  

A good night’s sleep is important for health and well being so a new mattress should be on the top of your list. Nature’s Sleep invites you to take 40% off on any purchase (use code SE40 at checkout). DHs and DWs like you deserve to sleep like babies, without spending a fortune!

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