By Kelly Riibe of Family Footnote
It can be hard to find tranquility in the midst of school days, basketball practices, 4-H meetings, church, work, and life in general. I definitely do not do the best job when it comes to being serene and calm, but for my kids I have started to try to do better in this department (whether the moments be minor or major).
Like everyone else, I enjoy my sleep. In addition to taking pleasure in a good snooze, I am also blessed to be a morning person. Once my alarm goes off during the week, I typically get right out of bed and start the day with a nice bout of vigor. While this is my personality, it is not a genetic trait that got passed on to all of my children, and it certainly has not rubbed off on their father. My oldest is more like her dad and needs a warm-up period to actually open her eyes in the morning. She is slow to relinquish the covers and get out of her pajamas.
This is a complication because I like to let my school-age kids sleep as long as possible. This gives us a tight 45 minute window to get ready in the morning before the bus comes.
While my oldest is groggy to wake, my middle daughter is slow to eat. I often tell people that she will study abroad in Europe one day and fit right in, because she is meant for long, drawn out meals that involve absolutely no rushing. Hence another morning complication when it comes to getting a balanced breakfast down their tiny throats.
Haste obviously happens during our morning routines, but I take great efforts to never yell before the bus arrival. Do I always succeed? No, but I do give myself about an 85% approval rating.
A peaceful morning always makes for a smoother transition to the day. While I do have to urge my daughters on when it comes to getting their shoes and backpacks, I never rush the actual good morning greeting. I always go to their room quietly. There is no hollering down the hallway or flipping on the lights. I gently tell them it is time to wake up and then I rub my oldest daughter’s back in a blatant bribe to get her to stir, sit up in bed, and acknowledge my presence.
The act of waking up is a process I try to respect even when we are competing with the clock to not be late.
The very best way to keep our mornings more peaceful is by setting clothes out the night before for all the kids. My daughters have been great about this since they were toddlers, and I am thankful every week that we got into the practice early. It takes the guesswork, arguments, and negotiating with terrorists aspect out of the daily routine.
I have recently started having my three-year-old set his clothes out the night prior, and while it is not always a sure thing in terms of conflict resolution, I can attest that there have been fewer altercations. Ironically, he is my biggest drama king and we have epic battles over gym shorts regularly.
The clothing argument has even led to a good dialogue with my husband when it comes to “dressy clothes.” There are times we are rushing to get to church or an event, and my husband will draw the deepest and darkest line in the sand regarding the type of pants or outfits the kids should be wearing. I try to intervene, but it makes it worse and slows us down even more. I finally had to have a late night conversation with my spouse about how being in our “Sunday Best” is not always a battle worth fighting. As long as the kiddos look presentable, I think we are okay for public observation (even at fancier happenings). Plus, more conflict tends to arise when we tell the kids what they must wear versus giving them a say in their wardrobe choice.
Obviously, I do not want them wearing ripped up shirts and flip flops everywhere, but donning some clean sweat pants and a stain-free t-shirt should always be acceptable. Life is about who we are, not what we wear.
Also, with less micro-management of dress clothes for church, weddings, parties, etc., my kids seem to embrace the free will of choice and grab nicer outfits from their closets over staple wardrobe items in the dresser drawers. Giving them a little control in this area of life appears to bring them peace.
Countdowns and Warnings
Leaving a fun event or Grandma’s house is never a pleasant experience with little ones. I have found that giving my kiddos a gentle reminder (or two) before heading to the door assists greatly in avoiding total meltdowns. This is especially effective with toddlers and preschoolers, but even my eight-year-old and husband benefit from knowing that they need to start mentally preparing to make an exit with a nice “ten more minutes” warning shot while at a neighbor’s party or family shin-dig with cousins.
I still have emotional scars and faint ringing in my ears from the times we left a swimming pool or playground, were running late, and I forgot to ease my children into the exit process. Telling them it is time to go and then just expecting them to stop having fun and climb into a boring vehicle is not realistic. It still happens, but those crazy departures full of tears only reinforce to me that a countdown warning makes for a much more tranquil means of egress.
Giving our little ones a peaceful existence, in everyday life, is important and a goal worth achieving. Sometimes doing this is as simple as a calm morning, an easy clothing choice, or letting them know that leaving time is going to happen in 5-10 minutes.
This post was originally published on Family Footnote.
About the Author
Kelly J. Riibe has three kiddos, a husband, a Jack Russell Terrier, and a mildly curbed addiction to Diet Coke. Keeping busy for her involves staying home with her children and also finding work as a freelance writer. She has been published in Nebraska Magazine, Heels on a Farm, The Manifest-Station, BonBon Break, Parent.co, Living Here Magazine, Black Hills Faces Magazine, and MockMom. She is also the co-writer for the blog: www.familyfootnote.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @familyfootnote and @KJRiibe.