Good Morning Part 3 Out the Door.
If this is your first read of the morning routines - I would recommend going back to the other two Waking Up and Prep for the Day posts to get the details. However, for some of us "the going out the door" part of the morning really can derail the routine especially for the kids and parents struggling with organization even after all the good prep. :) I have a 25 minute drive to my kids school. This post is after the routine checklists and there is still a lunch left in the car, a forgotten instrument or gym clothes (even though the child has said yes it is packed). We have also been known to review the spelling list or complete a math question on the way to school. The ultimate end to this morning routine is a smile and I love you out the door to take on their day and yours.
Here are a couple of suggestions to rock the getting out the door:
TIME TOGETHER - NO ELECTRONICS
There has been so many accidents where I live by distracted driving I am really cracking down on even the way I use my GPS. I also want to make sure the kids know that selecting a song, texting, looking at a map is not good while you are trying to pay attention to the morning traffic. I do not take any calls or let the kids do any electronics in the car (only long car rides) so we can use the time to connect. We also highlight different things along the drive each day such as where the road feels like a racetrack or the horses at Woodbine.
I know this may be contrary to the above suggestion but we carpool with one of the kids favorite people. Instead of saying we need to get to school, the kids know we need to pick up their dear friend at a certain time in order to make it to school on time. They seem much more open to getting out on time because someone else is waiting for them. I love the conversations that happen when there are friends' in the car. We do have some great discussions but sometimes I just like listening and hearing them talk about all sorts of things and get a vibe about what they are listening to.
I find the time that I drive the kids the radio has sometimes not appropriate topics or entertainment gossip interviews or ads. Our first choice is to listen to our public radio if it is a topic that is appropriate for the kids but sometimes they are just not in the mood. We have a drive to school playlist with some kick butt happy songs to sing to on the way to work. We also play DJ so each person can take a turn choosing a song to listen to in the morning. We talk about why they picked this song, I find it teaches respect for the other person's choices and patience to wait for their turn.
My kids right now are super into cars. So they play the "dibs" game - which is spotting and identifying cool cars. This keeps them busy for hours and makes the trip go smoothly. The travel car games can be used like the license game or name that tune. Bring out the old games when you drive even in the city or to do an errand. It is playful and they will love that you are into it.
CAR CHECKLIST AND HUG
We do have to do a second - lunch, money, instrument, script, or project check to make sure it gets out of the car and into the school building. This is just one of our quirks. I give 3 strikes for the year. If the kids forget something I will go back and get it. These were used up within the first 2 weeks so now a forgotten lunch or instrument has its consequences. I do request a kiss or hug even from the backseat. Not to sound daunting but you just never know what the day can bring and I want to make sure I hug them.
I LOVE YOU
My two older children have stopped saying it as they jump out of the drop off zone for school. I still say it and they smile and say I love you too. My youngest still blows me a kiss and says I love you as he gets out of the car. When this happens -- I know we have had a good morning that day. There will be the bad mornings where everyone is frustrated but we have more good than bad.
Be kind to yourself. Not every morning is going to be smooth sailing. There are 3 parts to self compassion: self kindness, common humanity and mindfulness . There are many parents doing the same thing we are, struggling, trying to keep it together. If you find you or your child are losing it every day then just make some slight adjustments. Sleep and time are big factors for our family. Not enough sleep for any of us we have less patience or resilience and getting up at an earlier time where there is time to hang, have breakfast, exercise these mornings tend to get everybody on the right foot. If you want more details go to www.selfcompassion.org or listen to one of the pioneer researchers on self compassion Dr. Kristin Neff with our online videos.
FINALLY, IT CAN BE TOUGH.
I know there are families out there with kids so anxious that every morning is a battle or emotional minefield to get them to school. I get this. We have been there. At our anxiety clinic session, understanding the "avoidance gap" and helping my daughter push through it everyday was exhausting but we got through it. There are still days that she dreads or puts up a fight but she has learned that she needs to get through it and she has the skills or confidence to do it. I also know there are a lot of families out there with highly sensitive children who refuse to get out of their pajamas, or just the thought of the lunchroom smell makes them gag. There was also a period of time that my daughter's sensitivity to sound in the classroom, the tag in her shirt, the lights in the hallway were also extra barriers to getting her to school. She came home for lunch up until high school. Now, she is working through what she is able to eat or tolerate during the day. I am no expert but SYT community was built so we could have the support of parents who understand or going through the same challenges. You are not alone. Please reach out if you need to vent or get some ideas on how to handle the current challenge of the day.
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