My home rarely starts the day with a “good morning.” I recently told Man that it’s like Ground Hog Day. The same problems over and over. An alarm wakes me up a half hour before the boys are to rise. This gives me a little time to ask God to help us, dress, have some breakfast, check my e-mails and send a salutation to Man via IM.
Then it’s time to get the kids moving. My oldest is easy to rise and pretty much takes care of himself in the mornings. The Bug is like me. Not a morning person. At all. It takes some work to get that one out of the bed. Once up he sets to work on what he calls “chores” but are really basic things like putting clothes on, eating, and brushing his teeth. Apparently anything requiring getting out of the bed is a “chore.”
Despite the fact that the routine is always the same and we have the same amount of time to accomplish things; Bug still manages to barely get out the door on time, if we manage that. If we are out on time he is usually with out a coat or some other major tool needed for his day like a back pack or lunch.
“Everyday. The same crap. I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall. Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam!” I said in an IM to Man.
“Did he get up late?”
“Did he use the check off list?”
Not only do we have a check off list for the morning, but for the night before as well. This way, bags are packed and shoes are found in advance and not as I’m hollering for them to “Move! Move! Move!” like a drill sergeant. Despite these aides I am still having to constantly remind Bug to stay on task each step of the way.
Maybe it’s his age. Maybe it’s just how it is. Maybe (and I am seriously considering this) he has a learning disability. What else could explain why he can’t master something we do every single day.
A few days ago a friend of mine posted this question on Facebook:
“Does anyone with children ever have a successful morning? If so, what are your secrets?”
I laughed when I read it and also felt relief in knowing that I am not the only one in the fox hole every morning. Then I read her friends’ responses.
“Mornings run rather smoothly in our house,” one friend replied. “Of course with one child it’s a bit easier to wrangle.”
“Lay out all the clothes the night before. Know what the breakfast options are going to be. Get up at least a half hour before the kids do and be ready yourself before you drag them out of bed. Use your happiness shield to deflect their whiny bitching.”
That one made me laugh. For one because I do all of that and it still does not seem to be helping. Her last line made me laugh too because I could tell this woman’s household rolls like mine. Except the “happiness shield” thing. It’s very hard to make the corners of my mouth turn upward in the mornings.
The next one was the kicker though:
“We do as much prep as possible the night before (lunches, lay out shoes/hat/coat/gloves/etc),”
Let me stop here. As I said, we too have a night-time prep plan. It’s good in theory but some times we are getting home late from karate, cub scouts, or Pizza Night with our neighbors and “bed” becomes the main goal. By sometimes I mean 4 out of 5 nights a week.
“…have a nighttime routine and go to bed early (dinner at 6pm, shower at 7pm, followed by stories, lights out at 8pm),”
We have the exact same routine. See above regarding why that does not always work.
“…wake up super early(at least 1.5 hours before we need to leave),”
Buddy and Bug have an hour and fifteen to get ready. We have tried getting up earlier but the extra time is spent on trying to get them out of the bed. Specifically Bug.
Here comes the best part!
“…and I wake up my son by crawling into bed with him, massaging his arms, telling him I love him over and over again, and asking easy/fun things (what he wants for breakfast, what will happen at/after school, or even tell him something cute about when he was a baby). If my daughter is also awake at this time, I’ll put her into bed with him (he adores her and love this!) He usually wakes up with a smile that way.”
This made me laugh! So hard! This woman is amazing! She is June Cleaver! Who needs sugar in their coffee when their morning starts this sweet? This may be a weekend morning scenario for us but it’s not happening during the week. I am usually so offended by being jolted from sleep by an alarm to be in a kissy, kissy, “let’s tell stories” mood.
I am also trying to raise men. I think my daughter-in-laws would hate me if their husbands couldn’t get themselves up and moving in the mornings on their own. Believe me, how much or how little a mom does for her sons does reflect on how little or how much they expect from their wives when they are married. That’s why I do as little as possible in our house. You are welcome daughters-of-my-future.
Seriously though, My Man wakes up by alarm every morning at 4:30. I sleep while he dresses, feeds himself and heads out to work. I know people who get up and make their husband’s breakfast before they go. They are amazing women. Their husbands may have had mom’s that rubbed their backs and made them eggs and toast every morning or they may just be awesome wives. My seven-year old already knows how to make a perfect fried egg all on his own in part because if he wants anything beyond cereal he has to make it himself. Some may call me lazy. I call it good parenting.
“We also have a list/chart with words and pictures about all the things that need to happen in the morning (wake up, get out of bed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed. et.) so he can refer to the chart, and there’s no playing until everything else on the list is done and only if there is time before we need to leave.”
My chart has pictures too. Hmph! Buddy and Bug can refer to the chart but do they? No. (They refer to Mom but not until her head starts to spin because spin-y things are fun!) Also, agreed that there should be no television or playing before leaving. In fact on the rare times that there is time for television it is still not allowed because they don’t turn it off and go when it’s time to leave.
“Bug, get your shoes on.”
2 minutes later I peek into his room to make sure the shoes are on. Bug has one shoe on and is now playing with a Lego man found next to the other shoe.
She ends with this bit of encouragement:
“Not every morning is successful, but most are pretty good, and some are wonderful.”
“The chart/list was the most helpful thing, along with waking up with a smile.”
Right. The smile thing. Gotta try that.
“Good luck – mornings can be stressful!”
Oh they can. They can be very stressful but I have an inkling that she really has no idea! I was annoyed by this post because it made me feel like a jerk mom. I wondered if it made my friend, who posted the original question, feel like a jerk mom too. That’s not nice!
I liked the next friend’s post:
“[We have a good morning] if I come in singing…if we can keep on schedule. Sometimes it’s rough no matter what you do.”
OK, the singing part is a bit much but at least this chick is Real and knows that sometimes mornings are what mornings are.
I responded to her post with:
“If I came in singing, a toy truck would be thrown at my head.”
My mother used to come in singing. She would burst into our slumber with “Good morning, good morning, good morning it’s time to rise and shine!” The song goes on. And on. I think this could be classified as cruel and unusual. Even when I was in college she would call my dorm at 6 a.m. Who ever answered the phone was greeted with that freaking song! I finally got smart and turned the ringer off because I caught my room-mate standing over me, ready to smother me with a pillow. Other means of waking us up was by just flipping on the lights with a cheery “Time to get up!” The juxtaposition of the happy voice with the painful, searing light in the eye…not good.
Even though I am not a happy, cheery, snuggler in the morning, I do not begin the day obnoxiously either. My head pokes into their dark room. With sleep weighing my voice down an octave I croon, “time to get moving boys.”
Buddy will hurdle the rail of the top bunk and shimmy on down the ladder, ready to take on the day. I suspect that he must lay in bed awake for a few minutes before I give the call. Bug stirs but more times than not I have to come back in the room to pull off the blankets. I return again to pull the blankets off (because he has pulled them back up) and turn on the light. Then I return to remind him that if he doesn’t get moving we will be late and then I’ll be angry.
“Don’t make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry,” I reference The Hulk more for my own amusement then for his.
I shared this thread with some friends, over lunch the other day. They too laughed at June Cleaver.
“I think she was being sarcastic. She had to have been joking!” Caren said.
“No, I don’t think so. It sounded For Real. How do you guys wake your kids up?”
“My girls wake up on their own,” Caren said. “Sometimes I will have to wake up my oldest but it’s just because her alarm clock failed to go off. I will rub her arm and gently rouse her. Mostly because it’s scary to wake up a Jr. Higher.”
“I do like you do,” began Victoria. “I peek in the room to announce that its time to wake up. I make sure there is movement. After that, they are wasting my time. So if I have to return to get them up it’s with a spray bottle. *squirt! squirt! squirt!* Right in the face.”
Caren and I were howling!
“Oh! Victoria! You don’t!”
“I love it! Oh, how I love you!”
I don’t want to be The Hulk in the morning. I would like to have a little more June Cleaver in me. I reminded myself of that this morning.
“Boys…” I whispered, “…rise and shine…”
Buddy ascended from the top bunk and wrapped his skinny little arms around me. I kissed the top of his head and rubbed his back.
“Bug? Bug-O. You’ve gotta get moving baby.”
“Urggggh….” he groaned pressing his face into his pillow and pushing his butt up into the air. “I think I’m sick.”
“You say you’re sick every morning, Bug,” I said while I gave his butt a pat. “Please get up so I don’t have to spank that sweet little butt.”
He did. We had a pretty good morning. We made it to school on time. Sans The Bugs coat.