JJ has been going to school for nearly a year now and getting him ready for school while getting myself ready for work used to be fraught with problems and lots of yelling and stress.
I get up at 6.30 in the morning, have a shower then go and walk my dog. By the time I do all of this an hour has passed and it’s 7.30. We just about one more hour to have breakfast, make lunches, get the work clothes on and get out the door for the short walk to school. I head off to work from there.
I used to concentrate on doing what I had to do, then ten minutes before we walked out the door I would be yelling to JJ to get his shoes on, clean his teeth, get his bag so I could put his lunch in, and run around trying to find his drink bottle. He never did things quickly enough for me and the end result was predictable, ie raised voices, crying, and lots of stress. Not a good start to either of our days.
This continued for quite some time. Some mornings were easier but mostly it was the same old pattern of my heart absolutely racing when we finally walked out the door and sometimes JJ had tears drying on his face because I’d been yelling so much.
While I was seeing the psychologist to discuss JJ’s behaviour at school and after school care inevitably his behaviour at home surfaced and we’d discuss that also. She suggested that we have a chart outlining the jobs he has to be responsible for, with tokens that can be stuck on the relevant chores once they’d been completed.
Getting tips like this and doing them are two completely different things and I’ll always do it really soon. Sometimes ‘procrastination’ is my middle name.
The beginning of the change from chaos to calm in the mornings happened after I’d asked JJ to put away the breakfast things. He argued with me that he’d got them out so he shouldn’t have to put them away. True to form we yelled at each other and yet again, we were off to a bad start to the day.
The next morning, I explained to him that it was his job to put his plate on the sink, and put away the cereal and the milk. He did it without much fuss and I realised that if I gave him his jobs to do then he’d know what was expected of him and if he forgot, a gentle reminder to do his job of putting the breakfast things away would suffice.
Of course, this was pretty much what the psychologist suggested but I just haven’t made it into a chart that we can both see.
I’ve since added to the list of jobs he has to do in the mornings (he’s nearly six by the way). Before he can play, he has to do the breakfast things, clean his teeth, get his bag out of his room and make sure the drink bottle is there and filled up, and he has to put his shoes on. Once he’s done all these things he can play until it’s time to go to school. Five minutes before I’m ready to go I ask him to pack up his cars or whatever he’s been playing with which he does without a fuss.
This morning we stood in the kitchen after a smooth morning of getting ready for work and school, his bag was on his bag and I was similarly loaded up with my bits and pieces. I said to him, isn’t it much nicer now that you know what you have to do in the mornings and I don’t feel compelled to nag you to get ready for school. He agreed with me and noted that he had five jobs to do and he’d done all of them. He was pretty proud of this.
It truly works a treat and he loves the fact that he knows what is expected of him. I love that he knows this and it runs smoothly most of the time and we leave the house pretty happy that we’ve had a calm day so far.