What goes fast, but needs you to slow down?
Yesterday I managed to get my children fed, dressed and out the door by 8:30am! This may not seem like a big deal to some, but with non school-aged children and fairly limited scheduling in our house, this felt like a huge feat. I woke up with my Super Mom cape on and I was determined to be successful.
Then, well… kids.
During this time, a few things happened.
Even with the rush to get going, they were moving like slugs and carelessly spilling cereal and milk all over the floor while hazily staring at the TV, a decision I thought would keep them calm so I could get things done. I envisioned quickly indulging in a decent breakfast for myself which turned into burnt bacon and a fire alarm (we have a sensitive one), all while bribing my kids with candy to get dressed (it’s 8am). At the same time, a wild little hand knocked over a plant and the dirt plopped perfectly on my freshly cleaned white rug, three tantrums occurred (possibly one from me), I dodged a million random questions about why things happen in life, patiently counted to three way too many times, and requested to “pick up the pace” for the first time ever – to little wide eyes confused at my demand.
As in most stress-filled situations, I couldn’t find my phone or keys even though they were in the most convenient places. It didn’t take long to start sweating from breaking up some serious “sharing” battles, we had a few timeouts, my breakfast never happened, and of course my hot coffee sat peacefully untouched on the counter while we were en route. Upon arrival at our destination, I remembered that all of our lunches were still sitting on the table.
[insert: exhausted eye roll + perspiring forehead + disheveled aspiring Super Mom]
So, I guess it was more than a few things that happened. Besides the rug, my coffee, and our lunches… we survived. Life still happened, and through it all my children were barely affected by Mom’s failure of a morning. But I could tell that they were anxious to finally be somewhere with less chaos that allowed them to move at their own pace, freely and happily. Me, on the other hand, felt like the chaos had ruined.my.morning. I tried hard with my unrealistic confidence not to let my kids know how frustrated I really was (this isn’t always easy), and when we got to our destination, my girls gave me a rushed hug-push and excitedly ran off to play as I exhaled all the defeat and stress away.
BUT on this day, I learned a few things!
First of all, parents need a routine just as much (if not more) than kids. I understand that this might be a “duh” to many of you, but it was an “ah ha” for me. A realization that pace, routine and schedule need some harmony even when you’re rushed. Communication with my kids is becoming more and more important as they grow and have opinions and plans of their own. Preparation is vital. We all knew that we would be leaving somewhere early the next day, but I didn’t tell them that our routine would be different or that our pace would need to be faster than normal – this is something I should’ve warned my kids about and prepared them for a change instead of surprising them with a stressful rush. When they have a solid idea of what the morning will be like, they are more than willing to cooperate and actually help! This is when our pace coincides and harmony thrives. I’m not saying we don’t ever have unexpected plans, but when we do, keeping expectations low and the rush away, make things so much better. As my family starts to think about school in the coming year, planning, prep and pace is something that needs a little more practice in our house.
I also learned that cereal is not the best option when we’re in a hurry (milk…), our fire alarms are in great shape, keep freshly cleaned rugs away from tippy plants and arm-flailing kids, always check the obvious places when looking for the phone and keys (like your purse or pocket of the robe you were previously wearing) and just know that kids will be kids in all situations. Overly multi-tasking that leads to chaos and stress is always part of being an unrealistic Super Mom. Not sure I was going for the “unrealistic” part.
But the most important thing I learned is that children are not built to slow down when we want them to and they’re definitely not built to “hurry up” when we really need them to. As our children run circles around us, we need to be the stable magnet that brings them to the center when necessary. We need to have realistic goals and expectations, so we can actually make room for their pace as it ebbs and flows. In turn, I believe this will allow us as parents to have a better pace for ourselves… or plants may fall on white rugs and tantrums will persist.
I always remind myself that a common thread for calm has always been consistency and here I was changing it all up, and immediately expecting good results.
So mothers, I know that leaving the house isn’t an easy feat for many. We can’t always prepare the night before or wake up with a cape on ready to make magic happen, we may rarely have the patience and time to move at our children’s pace, and often, we can barely catch our breath when we’re trying to keep up. So, if you’re going to switch it up or you know you’ll need to rush your routine, give yourself some grace, slow down, try to make a plan and get your kids involved.
Oh yes, and to all you mothers that have the flawless ability to exit your home with little struggle, I salut you, want to know your secret and I’d like to send you all the hand praising emojis!
Have a secret you want to share about schedule, routine, pace, or just how to get out of your house in a timely and calm manner? Please share!