If you have school aged kids, chances are you’ve threatened to take them to school in their pyjamas? Perhaps you’ve actually followed through and driven your grumpy kid to the school gate before they’ve relented and quickly got dressed in the car. Or maybe you’ve resorted to bribery or shouting matches in an attempt to get your kids into their school uniforms?
Recently one of our kids was so determined not to get ready for school she lay screaming, nude on the floor. It was decided her siblings would be taken to school and she would have to wait for her Dad to return and for her to put her school dress on until she would get to go to school. Not liking being late or breaking rules, this whole scenario distressed her further and eventually she stood fully dressed, hair brushed and bag packed, ready for school. She was late. She had to deal with it. And the next day she got ready without fuss, yet I was distressed. I was worried about what the morning would bring. Would there be yet another day of screaming battles? I was tired.
I did what I often do when I am feeling completely drained, when I know that ultimately I had dealt with an issue badly. First, I asked other parents if they had had troubles with their kids not wanting to get ready for school. I heard many stories one which alarmed me most was someone seeing another parent carrying their nude screaming child to the car. Knowing looks were exchanged between both the parents. I can only imagine how shit that mum felt during and afterwards, let alone the child.
Satisfied I wasn’t alone, that other parents were also struggling with crappy mornings, I rang the one person who is amazing at helping parents and kids live more harmoniously together. Nathalie from Easy Peasy Kids, is my “go to” person when our family has struggles. I adore her, many people do. So I rang and asked her to please provide some advice to me that I could share with you all – some quick tips for getting ready for school.
Here’s what she had to say:
– Remember no matter how much your children love school, they’d rather be at home.
– Getting ready everyday is boring and a chore.
– Kids feel similar feelings about going to school that we feel about going to work.
– Children find it harder to express their emotions.
– Yelling at your kids, or threatening them, will only make it worse.
How you can make mornings happier:
– Be organised. Have lunch boxes packed, school uniforms out and alarms set for a reasonable wake up time.
– Get your kids involved in getting things organised so they feel more control over their day.
– Stop speaking in rushed, urgent tones and instead be calmer in your approach. By yelling it just heightens anxiety in your children and everyone feels grumpier.
– Turn getting dressed time into something the kids look forward to. Ask your children to pick a “getting ready song” and put that on when everyone gets dressed and sing along. Perhaps put their school uniforms in your bedroom and everyone can have a little dance on the bed while getting ready?!
– Inject joyfulness into the start of each day, although at times hard, because undoubtedly you as a parent are stressed and tired, at least means your days start with joy rather than shrouded in anger and resentment.
– Be committed to switching up your morning routine, playing the “getting ready song” and coming from a place of happiness for a consistent period of at least 4 weeks to see real change.
I simply love Nathalie’s advice and we have been trying to introduce some of it into our morning routine. Mainly, I’ve been letting our eldest girl turn on her radio in the mornings. I take her uniform into her room and we chat about fun things while I help her to get dressed – just the two of us. It’s calm and it’s a lovely time for us to spend together. Similarly, I do the same thing with our middle child and to be fair our third child likes to get herself dressed – it’s a control thing!
I’m not saying that every morning is awesome, but they’ve definitely improved for the better. You see when I find us yelling at each other it often means we need to make changes. I remind myself to question why my kids are grumpy. Is something happening at school? Are they over tired? Are they anxious about an upcoming event? Their problems might not be big like ours – mortgage, bills, bosses, ageing, family – but they are big to them. They just might not know how to express them so instead act out, withdraw or simply refuse to get ready for school in the morning.
There’s so much to be said for making mornings fun. What a great way to start the day – smiling.
Thanks so much Nathalie for all your help. And if you want to help her you can actually, as she’s about to walk 50kms for the charity Foundation 18. She’s hoping to raise $5000 – you could donate here.
So tell me – do you find mornings hard in your house too?
I did the pjs to school thing once…with second child. He’s exceptionally gifted – to the point that he had NO areas where he was on a level with his peers, so school was always difficult. He also has will power like no other human being I know, so I always had to be totally prepared to carry out any consequence I’d flagged. Eventually, over a period that was getting worse and worse n the mornings, THAT morning came. I told him he’d be taken to school at the time I said we’d be leaving, whether he was dressed or not. Rang the school and alerted the principal that we might be coming in underdressed…he wasn’t happy about it, but was prepared to be supportive. I put the clothes in the car, so No.2 still had the opportunity to do something about it – but he stuck to his guns… So, in we marched, straight to the office, in pj-d glory. Big showdown in the principal’s office, when No.2 realised he’d got himself into a really jammed place. The principal gave us his office once he’d agreed to get dressed, he calmed down, changed, had cuddles, checked through his bag to make sure everything was there, and that was the day. I got myself to TAFE (I was studying at the time) and fell apart in the cafeteria over coffee, and then got on with MY day. He never pushed the morning thing again. There were other things – there were ALWAYS things with that child. He’s 23 now, and slowly pulling himself up after a pretty shitty year, and still having to come to grips with the consequences of some of his less than thoughtful moments. But, we all survived…
Oh boy sounds like a crappy day, but so glad it got better. Well done you x
Be organised – and be prepared for the worst case scenario – easier said than done, however! Or – just keep moving – you’ll get there in the end…
some days just don’t work out no matter how organised you are. I know this!
Great ideas! My main addition would be to get to bed at a reasonable time – applies to my kids and to me. I’m usually the worst culprit, so I need to get so much better at this. If we don’t all get proper sleep though, we can have great plans and preparations all laid out, but I don’t implement them well. Then even the best laid plans end up shredded and mangled in a fit of rage on the floor, and we all feel kicked and trampled in the process – sometimes literally (yes, we do have some problems getting to school in our house and a bit of (mild-ish) sibling anger management to iron out. I’m hoping the mental images from recent incidents help me get my act together ..)