Most parents likely find mornings to be challenging. Getting your kids moving and ready to go by a certain time can often feel like a losing battle. Fights over clothes, fights over breakfast, resistance to teeth brushing, hair brushing and putting on appropriate outdoor clothes. It can all be a recipe for tension and stress for everyone. Adam leaves the house at 6am almost every day, so I am generally on my own to deal with these frustrations.
Until a few months ago, it was usually Big A who created the biggest challenge in the mornings for me. From aged 18 months onward, she would wake up grumpy and sulky, and would battle with me over getting dressed, brushing her teeth and putting on her outdoor clothes. It was not uncommon for me to end up putting Little A in her stroller, pushing it out onto the front porch, and then throwing a hysterical Big A over my shoulder, along with her shoes and coat, and carrying her screaming outside where I either forced her into her outdoor clothes, or left her to put them on herself. Between my yelling and her screaming, I'm sure everyone on our street thought we were a family of lunatics.
Fortunately, Big A is finally past this phase. She wakes up later (closer to 7am rather than before 6am), happy, and is generally cooperative. Our biggest challenge with her these days is simply that she dawdles like crazy, so getting her out the door is still tough, even if she isn't actually being defiant. She just simply cannot seem to do ANYTHING quickly.
It is now Little A who has taken over as the biggest challenge every morning. She has become a TERRIBLE TWO and the fact that she doesn't like her new daycare makes it even worse. It's a wonderful daycare, but very, very strict, and this is difficult for Little A, who is very sensitive and gets very upset when she feels she is being reprimanded. She also has become best buddies with another child, who according to the teachers, bosses her around a lot. So during the week when she knows I am taking her to daycare, she is very resistant and difficult. I feel terrible, but Adam and I have discussed the options and basically we have no choice but to keep her in this daycare for now.
The other challenge that has emerged is that Big A, at not yet 6 years old, has become a tween. She no longer wants to watch Calliou or Max & Ruby. Now it's all about Icarly and Top 40 music. This means that the girls cannot agree on what to watch on tv every morning so in order to avoid a huge fight, I came up with a rule that they alternate who gets to watch on the tv in the living room and who has to go down to watch on the tv in our rec room. This solution ended up being a royal pain for me as I have been running up and down the stairs catering to their every whim: More oatmeal please! Mommy I need a drink! My hands are sticky! I want some blueberries! I want some cereal! I want you to turn the channel! By the time we leave the house, I'm in a horrible mood.
Adam pointed out that I am giving into their demands way too much and we need a better system in the morning. So we decided that neither girl is allowed to watch tv until completely dressed AND fed. No breakfast in front of the tv. Period.
Yesterday, after an initial hysterical fit from Little A (the tv addict of the family), this system worked. So hopefully, as things heat up for me professionally (more about all that later!) and getting out early in the morning becames even more critical, I'll be able to continue refining our morning routine so that we all begin the day feeling sane. I suspect, however, that this will be an ongoing challenge!!