Thursday, March 15, 2012

Positive Parenting- Day 1- a smooth morning for all

Day 1 of Positive Parenting. Don't worry, I don't plan to post every day! But this morning was, wait for it.... AWESOME!  We don't have major problems around here discipline wise but mornings have not been going well since we added the tiny toddler to the mix. Prior to our return from Russia my big five year old pretty much had me to himself every morning. Once he started having to share me he became a loud whining time sucking machine. (But he is my loud whining time sucking machine and I love him!)

So yesterday I listened to the online class on morning routines. Most of Amy's suggestions and techniques we were already using but I still found myself nagging and reminding constantly. My frustration would start to show, which would wind up the tiny toddler and increase the whining in the five year old. Every morning my big five year old would:

  • whine about having to get out bed
  • need help getting dressed
  • need help putting on his shoes and socks
  • whine about having to brush his teeth before watching TV
  • whine about having to eat breakfast before watching TV
  • tell me "nothing sounds good" for breakfast and whine about that for a while
  • stomp around at least  twice a morning
  • cry at least twice a week

    And every morning the tiny toddler would:
    • ask for a specific food item and then scream when it was handed to him
    • take shoes off and throw them
    • whine

      And every morning my sweet husband and I would:
      • let our frustration show in our body language and voices
      • not have any time to really talk
      • not get to sit at the table together (this is VERY important to both of us.)
      • get annoyed with each other when the boys weren't ready to go on time
      • often apologize to each other over the phone when my sweet husband would call from his office to tell me the boys got into school OK.
      Basically, the job got done. Everyone got dressed, fed, and out the door. But it certainly wasn't pleasant and it often didn't set the tone I want to start my family's day. So I started the online class and was reminded of something. Prior to the tiny toddler coming home my big five year old and I would often have enough time in the morning to snuggle on the sofa, first thing. Now if you know me well you know that both of my boys get a lot of one on one time with Mommy. We have been having Mommy & Matthew time for years, and now we have Alex & Mommy time too. But even with all of this one on one time it was clear that my big five year old felt like he was missing something. After reviewing the obvious culprit I determined that my kids were getting enough sleep at night. The tiny toddler is getting between 10 and 10 1/2 hours of sleep a night and the big five year old gets about 9 1/2 hours of sleep every night. They both still nap for two hours every day at school. So they are well rested.

      Today I set my alarm for 20 minutes early, dragged myself out of bed and headed to the big five year old's room. I woke him up and asked him if he wanted to snuggle and read a few books before we woke up his little brother. The smile on his sleepy little face was enough to power me through the rest of my day! We sat down in his big chair and I explained that we were having some Matthew & Mommy time and after that he would need to finish all of his morning tasks before we watched TV. Then it happened.

      We read one book and he jumped down off my lap and said, "If I get dressed now can we still read the other book?" With only a little help he got dressed and we read another book. He then asked if he could watch TV because he was dressed. I reminded him that he had to eat breakfast, put on his socks and shoes and brush his teeth first. He then ran to the bathroom to brush his teeth while I got his little brother out of the crib. By the time I had the tiny toddler half dressed he showed up in the room telling me he was going downstairs to get his shoes so that he could put them on now and be "even more ready". My big five year NEVER goes downstairs by himself if the lights are off- NEVER. But this morning he did. By the time I had his brother dressed he was back upstairs, socks and shoes on. He put them on all by himself. Which doesn't sound like much but is HUGE in my world.

      He decided on his breakfast before we even got to the kitchen and I was super surprised when the three of us arrived downstairs to see that we were actually ahead of schedule. Both boys sat at the table, ate breakfast and then moved their show to the living room for more TV time than they usually have time to watch. No whining. No reminders. No crying. No stomping around. No tense husband/wife moments.

      We even  had enough time to dance around the living room for a few minutes before "packing the car" - what my sweet husband calls loading the boys into the car.

      So here's the thing. I am a well trained sales professional and I am good at my job. I know that there are certain ways to say things to a client to help you get the "Yes" response you want. I would never talk to my clients the way I sometimes talk to my boys. Even when I had a large number of associates reporting to me I would never have managed them by ordering them around and nagging. So why was I doing this with my boys?

      Two simple changes- 10 minutes of Mommy & Matthew time at the time of day my son needs it most and a change from nagging to "when/then" statements and our morning was a breeze!

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