Today we had one of those rare mornings where everyone had eaten breakfast, everyone was dressed, all teeth were brushed and all lunches were packed about a half an hour before the buses were coming.
What I have learned from experience though, is that even when we are all pretty much ready to go with ten or twenty or thirty minutes to spare, things can still get really crazy right before the bus comes.
This is especially true for Number 6, because he can get seriously distracted in the mornings by his toys or by some craft project or feeling the need to make a paper airplane two minutes before the bus gets to our house.
So I am often finding myself rushing to get the kids out the door, even when we seem to have a ton of time before the bus comes.
This happened again yesterday.
Number 5 and 6 are one bus and 7 is on another one, but both buses come within about three minutes of each other, so we all go out and wait in the driveway at the same time.
Number 6 was ready to go with plenty of time, but we were still scrambling to get out of the door at the last minute because all of a sudden, his shoes and sweatshirt had vanished.
I hate putting my kids on the bus like that. Feeling rushed and stressed and anxious.
It’s no way to start a day. And I don’t want their last moments with me in the morning to be full of me telling them to HURRY UP! or to be short with them or snapping at them.
So today, I reminded myself of this.
As they were playing “the floor is hot lava” with the time they had before the bus came, I walked into the playroom and asked them, “How many minutes do you need to be totally ready to walk out the door for the bus this morning?”
They had eaten, brushed their teeth, gotten dressed, and packed their lunches in their backpacks. So all they needed to do was get shoes, jackets, hats, and gloves. Number 6 and 7 also sometimes take stuff on the bus with them to play with on the ride, so if they wanted anything else, they’d have to get that.
They looked at each other and Number 7 blurted out, “SEVEN MINUTES!”
I’m not sure where she came up with that number, but I asked the other two if that sounded good, and they all agreed that was the perfect amount of time.
They went back to playing, and I spent a few minutes cleaning up in the kitchen.
I set the timer so I didn’t lose track of time, and when it went off, I went into the playroom and told them they had seven minutes.
They looked at me and then at each other and said, “Okay! Let’s go!”
And then they got all their stuff on, got their backpacks, and headed out the door.
It was painless, there was no stress, no rushing, and everyone got on the bus without any frustrations.
There is such a difference in how your kids react when, instead of throwing out a demand or barking out an order — GET YOUR STUFF ON AND GET OUTSIDE, NOW! — you allow your children to take some responsibility over how and when they will do something.
A simple change from telling your kids what to do to asking them what they need can really change the course of your day!
If your mornings have the tendency to be crazy, try this approach instead.
Ask your kids what they need. Give them some control over how they get ready. Put the responsibility to be ready on time on them.
There is a good chance they will surprise you and let you know exactly what they need.