It’s Monday, which means we had a crummy night, of course. In true Monday fashion, I was up with two of the three kids at various points in the night, soothing pounding headaches and comforting after nightmares. I am up early because, despite my desperate desire to crawl back into bed, this is the best time I have to squeeze in some writing.
In 37 minutes, the sprint to the school bus begins. I will try to help my children remember all the things they have to do before they leave and they will try to squeeze a few more minutes of sleep/play/reading in before they leave. Invariably, I will call out “Time to catch the bus!” and someone will wail back “I can’t find my other shoe!” or “You need to sign this!” or “I haven’t packed my lunch yet!”
I’m still working out logical consequences for wasting time and failing to listen to my reminders. I’m thinking about having them pay me back for lost time driving them to school – maybe they will have to work for me that evening. They lose privileges at home for forgetting homework.
I struggle to discern how much training they need before it’s reasonable for me to expect certain things, especially time management, out of them. The younger ones are very new to all of this, and all of us have new routines this year. The oldest is adjusting to a new school schedule in which he leaves for school an hour earlier and returns an hour earlier. He used to do all his work before school, but he doesn’t have time for that now. He’s tried.
The second one is learning a new level of independence this year, which she likes except when she gets distracted. Being the artist type, she is very easily distracted. I’ve learned that I can’t rattle of a string of things, i.e. “Get your shoes on, find your jacket, pack your lunch, and bring me your planner!” They need directions one at a time, and sometimes broken down into small steps.
“Look for your shoes.”
“Put them on.”
“Now, get your backpack.”
“Bring it to the kitchen.”
You know who has the best ideas for helping kids learn these things? When I’m floundering, I go to other mothers. I get together once a week with a group of women who are part of something called The Mom Club. I’d never heard of it until last year when I made a friend at the gym. She was new to our area and told me about MOMS Club.
“It’s a great way to meet people. Will you go with me?”
I agreed, knowing how difficult it is to join a new group alone. It has been a very good thing, getting me out of the house on days when depression would keep me hiding and isolated. Our children attend the same schools and we all live within a few minutes’ drive of each other.
Our group is small, just four or five moms each week, plus our younger-than-school-aged kids, and we meet just 2 hours one afternoon a week. But in that two hours, we share some of the challenges we and our kids are facing, like bullies on the school bus, forgotten homework, and food issues. We talk about what we’ve tried, what works, what fails miserably. We laugh and learn from each other. We talk about consequences for missed buses and how to help our kids get the homework done with the least nagging and gnashing of teeth.
My kids are up, which means the race is on.
If you are a parent, where do you get support, encouragement, and advice for your work with your children? How do you (or how did you) teach your children responsibility?
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