Tired of your worst parenting moments happening before 8am?
I was, too. I wasn't even sure how we GOT to this place: daily yelling, rushing, frustration, and anger. "BRUUUUUUSH YOURRRRRR TEEEEEEEETH!!!!!!" Who were we? I didn't recognize us.
I found myself in the emotional intent of SUPERIORITY...awful things wanted to fly out of my mouth. Things like, "What's wrong with YOU? WHY can't you get out the door on time?!? COME ONNNNNN!!!"
Ok....so maybe they did.
Those words make most people cringe, so what most people do is communicate these exact sentiments with their tone and trick themselves into thinking they're better people, parents, and partners.
I grew up in a family that could communicate "What the fuck is wrong with you?" and "What you've done is SOO stupid," with the words "Did you cut these onions?"
And, trust me, I can say "Brush your teeth" in a loving, gentle reminder sort of way, or I can convey that right now I think you're the worst person on the planet.
Superiority slowly kills relationships....it's shaming....at its sneakiest.
Guilt = my behavior wasn't ok.
Shame = I'm not ok.
There isn't 1 iota of evidence in the last 50 years of research that says shaming changes behavior. It's why no matter how much you lose your mind in the morning, nothing changes...or it gets worse.
But there's a whole lot of evidence that harboring shame is linked to addiction, depression, and suicide.
I know all of this, but shame had weaseled its way into our morning routine.
After one particularly nutty morning, I was done.
The first step to using less shame in your relationships isn't shaming yourself. The first step is honoring your feelings of anger and frustration. Those feelings are messengers that something is *OFF*, that something needs to change....not indicators that you're a bad human being or parent.
"Could you please just start behaving like I think you SHOULD so that I don't have to feel bad about myself when I have these feelings? K? Thanks." You're giving your kids way too much power.
We get superior, when we feel inferior...THAT, my friends, is a Tweetable.
Ask yourself this ONE question.... I'm really good at reverse engineering. I always start with the same question, "How do I want to feel?"
I wanted to feel more relaxed and at ease. I wanted my kids to CARE more about getting out the door on time.
That's when I realized it...I was classically over-functioning. You see, in any relationship as long as one is over-functioning...it gives the other permission to under-function.
In any and all of these cases change comes when the over-functioner returns responsibility back to the under-functioner.
In English: I had enabled my kids NOT to care about their morning routine. I had taken on so much responsibility for them getting out the door on time that they now had none.
They danced and laughed until they couldn't breathe....instead of brushing their freakin' teeth.
When asked to get dressed I would find them 20 minutes later organizing books and playing with their stuffed animals...in their freakin' pajamas.
Instead of packing their snack they were asking to watch TV...."NOOOOO, YOU CANNOT WATCH TV!! PUT YOUR SHOES ON!!!! THE BUS COMES IN 1 MINUTE!!!!!"
Change your mornings NOW.
Give your morning some MARGINS. I sat my kids down one night and acknowledged that our mornings hadn't felt good, apologized for my behavior, and told them calmly, sweetly, and firmly that it was no longer my job to get them to the bus stop on time. The bus comes at 7:55, I let them know that the new expectation was for them to be ready by 7:45.
THIS way...they have some space to SCREW UP and HAVE A BAD DAY without it being the "GET YOUR SHOES OOOONNNNNN!!!!" apocalypse.
I sweetened the deal with incentive. I created a really simple sticker chart and let them earn family outings of their choice.
We started waking one of our children up earlier....I noticed she just needs more wake-up time and isn't ready to jump into breakfast the nanosecond she rolls out of bed.
Set really clear, and reasonable expectations. I made my kindergartner a check list of stick drawings of the things he needed to do before he walked out the door (a spoon for eat breakfast, a tooth brush, a brush, etc.).
They get 1 star for being TOTALLY ready by 7:45 (bed made, clothes put away & snack packed).
They get 1 star for saying kind words as they get on the bus, "Bye Mom! I love you! Have a good day!"
Expect these expectations to change with age...and know you might not get them right the first time. Be easy on you, and them, and try again.
STOP caring so much....or figure out how to stop caring so much. We live 2 minutes from school, so I decided to stop caring whether they made the bus or not. Really? Why had I cared so much?
And, it turns out, they HATE missing the bus. When I stopped caring, they started crying if they missed the bus.
I didn't feel the anger or frustration that I once had. Now I felt empathy.
I had to stop caring about how they dressed (within reason....if it looks like neglect I might step in), and I started caring less about their hair...I told my daughter, "If you want your hair fixed I need you to get me the brush and supplies and ask me to fix your hair." If you can't care less about them being in the car or on the bus on-time build in more margins so that you can care less about them being ready *on time*.
Stop expecting kids to care about things they just can't care about yet. You care if your house is clean for multiple reasons, but one is it's socially and culturally encouraged....that norm means that people may judge you based on the cleanliness of your house. Kids don't have this built-in reward or consequence in place. None of their friends care if their room, or your house is picked-up.
Your kids can't care if you're to work on time. So, you have to think about what THEIR currency is. What DO they care about?
I like to choose rewards that feel good to me, too. They're not getting candy every time they make the bus on time. Think of things that are already happening in your household, or things you'd like to do more of. If electronic time is part of their day, you could give them 10 minutes of that in the morning.
When you find a currency that works for them (might be different for each child) you'll be able to NAG them to care less. NAGGING is always saying, "WILL YOU PLEASE CARE MORE?!" You've built-in the reward/consequence for them to care all on their own.
Sip your coffee and watch the magic that unfolds when you stop over-functioning in your mornings.
These are just the things that are working for us now. The most important part in all of this is the mindset shift: change your mind first and come up with solutions that work for your family.
Become more of who you want to be.
You got this,
P.S. - Is your marriage calling you to grow? Sign up for my totally FREE, but totally valuable 10-Day Relationship BOOST and start having a better feeling relationship today.