Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How To Get Kids Out The Door On Time

School is back in session. The excitement of the first few weeks is over and now you are falling back into old habits of previous years. It seems like there is always something that stops the getting-to-school-on-time momentum cold. It could be you hit the snooze button one too many times and now you are running late. Maybe your son cannot find his backpack or your daughter has changed her outfit ten times. You know all calm has left the house when you’re screeching and threatening “If you’re not out the door in five minutes, no Xbox tonight!”

It is time for a back-to-school morning intervention. Before I mention practical tactics to make your mornings positive, lets understand why it is not a good thing to start every day totally stressed. Studies have found that children who are often tardy have lower GPAs, lower standardized test scores and lower graduation rates. What studies cannot show is the damage that is done to a child’s self esteem when mom is yelling as they leave the house. I guarantee your child will not be performing at his best if your home is a battleground in the mornings.

So lets de-stress your mornings. When your children hear “Hurry up!”, “We’re late!”, “Let’s go!”, they dig their heels in and slow down. It is a natural reaction. Your goal is to be positive and not freak out in the mornings. Preparation begins the night before. Try to get clothes laid out. Plan lunch. Fill backpacks and set them by the door.

If your child has a difficult time waking up in the mornings, instead of walking into their room and barking “get up”, try something different. For younger children, get up 5 minutes earlier and go cuddle with them in bed. It is a delightful and peaceful way to start the morning. When it comes to older children, let your child be self reliant. Most kids will be thrilled to let mom and dad off the nagging track of school on-timeness. Take them to the store and let them pick an alarm that lets them wake up to music. Prepare yourself that there will be late days filled with anxiety. Be there to help, but let them experience it. Eventually, they will figure it out.

Throughout this process, give them positive feed back. Tell them how good they are at getting up on time, or how proud you are of them for preparing their backpack the night before. They will not be perfect everyday, but your goal is to find one thing they are doing right. You no longer need to be the drill sergeant. When you see your child walk out the door with a smile on their face in the mornings, your day will be complete!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Time Out for Families

Time Out

“Slow down and enjoy life. It is not only the
scenery you miss by going to also
miss the sense of where you are going and
why” Eddie Cantor

The accelerating pace of society is not only hurting our health, it is destroying our families. A balanced life of work and play is necessary to stay in touch with who we are and what our families are about.

When life becomes too busy, it is hard to enjoy anything. As a parent, when you are in a constant rush, it takes away the opportunity to get to know the people around you...your family. You cannot effectively parent if you are always in a hurry accomplishing task after task. It is imperative to put the brakes on and slow down. You must remember that children would much rather have your time than anything else you could possibly offer!

Finding time and slowing down is difficult. It will take some ingenuity on your part. But by realigning your goals and readjusting your priorities, your relationships with your kids (and your health) will improve. Here are some ideas.

Work Less
You may not be able to quit your job, but maybe it is possible to cut back on the number of hours you are working. Quit work at 5 and don’t answer calls or emails.

I realized the importance of slowing down this while attending a little league football game. That particular game day, it was my responsibility to drive the team players to the football game. We were asked to arrive an hour before the game was to begin. It had been a busy day and I was running behind schedule. I was stressed and in a hurry to pick up each boy and get there on time. Once we made to to the field I realized I had forgotten my cell phone and laptop. What was I going to do with my free hour? The field was all the way across town, too great of a distance to run home and grab whatever I needed to keep myself busy. I was frustrated, but there was nothing to do but take a deep breath and relax. I began observing what was going on around me. It was around 5 PM. Many of the opposite team members were from Polynesian families. Entire families were arriving together. They were setting up for an early evening barbeque. They were laughing and talking with their children, thoroughly enjoying themselves. As the parents from our team arrived, they looked stressed. It looked like they had just arrived from work each in their own cars, with their dress shirts buttoned tightly and intense looks on their faces. I watched as they paced the sidelines talking on cell phones, putting it down long enough to holler at their sons. What a difference.

It made me realize what crazy things we do to ourselves. This is no way to live life and no way to be an example to your child!

Kill Distractions
Shut off the television, the phones, the computer. Don’t be the noisy family who cannot stand quiet. Their bodies slumber, but their spirits do not rest. When their hearts cry out for rest, they answer back with entertainment.

There was a conference on children and television at the White House. The Clintons and the Gores were there. All the guests were asked to present a 7-8 minute thought. Mr Rogers was there. In his presentation he asked for a few minutes of silence. When he left the room one of the military guards, dressed in white and gold thanked him. “For the silence and the time. I though about my grandfather’s brother who just before he died gave me his fishing pole. I’ve loved fishing all my life and that silence reminded me of him today.”

Let it Go.
It is impossible to finish every task everyday. We often don’t relax because we are programmed to keep mental checklists. In our own minds, we are not productive unless we are accomplishing the tasks on our lists. Don’t try and be a Super Family. Super families are only as good as their latest report cards or athletic scores. They never miss a lesson or activity. One parent is always absent due to work. The other is always stressed but will make time to get the kids to their multiple activities. They push themselves and their children from one victory to the next. They are a family with much pride, but little joy.

Get rid of the lessons and activities that you can do without. Especially the ones that send you driving across town at rush hour. Make sure your child is participating in activities that he enjoys. As a parent, you should be enjoying your kids. Lay in the grass and watch the clouds float. Fry an egg on the sidewalk when its hot. Discover a four-leaf clover. You are not wasting time, but investing in your relationship. Children are always learning from your example. Reevaluate the values you want your kids to emulate.