Ever have one of those moments? You know, the one when you smack yourself on the forehead (figuratively speaking) and say “duh!” to yourself? Kind of like the V-8 commercial. Well, I had one this past Tuesday.
True confession here: I’m not a morning person. I’d much rather stay up until 3am and then sleep until 9 or so. The boys usually wake up around 8 or 8:30, and for the past few months they’ve spent the first hour or two of the morning playing. They usually have a terrific time. So terrific that it’s difficult to get them to eat breakfast. By the time we get done eating, they’re not really anxious to focus on lessons, and it’s been causing a bit of tension lately.
Okay. Monday I yelled my everlovin’ head off. Perhaps “a bit of tension” was an understatement.
One thing I’ve realized about the older boys is that they need to be directly taught; they don’t tend to just pick things up through osmosis. Hubby will often tell the boys at night to “have a good day tomorrow, and think about what Mama would want.”
It occurred to me Tuesday morning: Perhaps instead of making them guess the answer, I should TELL them what I want. (cue V-8 slap on forehead here).
The thought crossed my mind when I heard the usual morning hijinks start to turn into an argument. I called the boys down and told them that I want them to start doing things on their own, and the first thing I wanted to see was them get dressed and eat breakfast.
It was amazing. They hopped right down and got dressed, then arranged breakfast lickety split. When they were done eating, we had a quick chat about options for the day and settled on history first. Hubby got them each an mp3 player and he’d gotten them set up Monday night, so the boys were anxious to try them out. They finished their history quickly because they were paying attention to the story; it was really fun. Then they strapped on their music players while they did spelling. It’s a review week so I wasn’t worried about concentration.
We got the rest of our lessons done including grammar, math, piano, and reading by lunch time. The younger boys even had their reading and letter people done by then. We celebrated lunch with a nice hot meal (it’s just awful outside and they were in the mood for scrambled eggs) and an episode of Gilligan’s Island that just came in the mail. After that, math with the little guys-we pretended we were in a store and ‘bought’ items from the pantry with some pennies-and school was over by 1:30.
I talked to the big boys before bed and asked them what they should do when they woke up. Both of them said “get dressed, eat breakfast”. Yup! That’s it!
And you know what? They were pretty good about it all week. I had to offer a reminder one morning, but that was it. They even got dressed and moving today, a Saturday. If this works out well, then I’ll try adding something else to the list in a few days.
The reality is that we all want them to be more grown up and responsible. Hubby and I want it for them. They want it for themselves. But I need to do a better job of transitioning them over. So. Let the direct approach continue. And, ya know. Let me have more V-8 moments.
Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to communicate better.