My children are now teenagers and I am happy that many years ago I learned an important lesson from them. We were late for a party or something. The day is clear in my mind. “Find your shoes”, “Where is your sister?”, “Where are your shoes?”, “We don’t have time for that right now”, “We are running late – are these your shoes?”
Can you picture it?
At the time my daughters were probably 2 and 4 years old, and didn’t really understand what being late meant. What they knew was that Mommy was upset or distracted and they didn’t like it. I have always felt a certain amount of pressure to be on-time and, as a “super-mom”, it meant even more to arrive on-time with 2 perfectly manicured children with shoes on their feet and smiles on their face. It made for a not-so-pleasant morning for any of us. What I came to realize is that I was stressing my kids out. And, the more stressed I was, the less I could get done or have the girls do. The girls wanted to calm me somehow. So, instead of finding their shoes, they offered hugs and artwork (adorable – right?). But it actually made me even more crazy until it hit me… Hug them. Love them and their artwork. The birthday girl/boy could wait while I loved my girls.
And so, I did. And funny enough, when I did, they were calm and miraculously went to put on their shoes and coat and were happily on track again. Amazing.
Sometimes, we just need to slow down and appreciate the messages we are sending and receiving. I am not saying it is ok to be late. I am saying that in most cases, we beat ourselves up trying to move forward when all we have to do is take a step back, and maybe take a side step to get around an obstacle.
Often we can be too close to see the solution. In the classroom, we try very hard not to make the same mistakes over and over. For example, if Johnny is always the last to have his coat on for outdoor time we give him more time. We don’t try to make him go faster. He may not be able to zipper as quickly as the others. When he improves his skill in this area, we will make him feel great about it! Until then we will give him a bit more time. Imagine making the whole class wait for Johnny to zipper his coat day after day. What is the point? Who does that help? Does it get the class out faster?
There are ways to set yourself and your children up for success. Look for the things that are not working – before the next time it occurs. Think of creative ways to get the same result without all of the headache. Another example from my children was morning hair. Teja, my youngest, refused to let me comb her hair in the morning. I won’t go into the details, but it was no fun for either of us. One day, I decided to pretend she was at the hair salon. I lifted her into the sink and gave her a magazine and a “cup of coffee” (water). I did her hair in record time while she looked in the mirror and pretended to drink “coffee” and read – no tears, no fight. So, from then on we needed a cup and a magazine/book for our morning routine.
You have heard the saying before “work smarter, not harder”. I am a huge believer in this theory. Find your way around the obstacle, rather than bumping up against it over and over.