Family

Building Better Habits

Over the last two weeks, the morning routine that I was trying to build in order to create a better version of myself came crashing down. The crash was so loud, I’m fairly certian my neighbors heard the rumble of the pieces falling around me.

My goal of waking up an hour earlier turned into waking up 20-30 minutes earlier if I was lucky. I hit the snooze button like it was my part time job. A side husstle that would pay per snooze.

I am also positive that my personal exhaustion permeated into my children, because they woke each day kicking and screaming. And it went downhilll from there.

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My son, after trying to wake him up for a good 10 minutes.

Every single time I asked either of my kids to do something, they would scream and yell, and tell me that they weren’t going to do ANYTHING. “What would you like for breakfast?” turned into my children screaming back “NOTHING! I’m not eating!”.

And don’t even get me started on what happened when I asked them to get dressed. My house turned into a war zone. There was carnage everywhere in the form of uneaten breakfast, clothing, and anything in my son’s wake when he went into full blown tantrum mode. I barely held myself together while I resisted the urge to just leave them home alone for the day while I went to work. That would teach them, right?

Unfortunately the law frowns upon parents leaving their young children home alone, so I dug down really deep and found the last shred of patience I had left.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and screamed at the top of my lungs.

Anyone remember when I lost my shit in the grocery store? Well my friends, it happened again. This time, in the comfort of my own home, it was much worse. I expected my kids to be staring at me with horrified faces, wondering what happened to Mommy. I expected some type of change in their behavior that would indicate that the spectacle I was making of myself had worked.

It didn’t work.

They screamed right back at me, and then started behaving even worse. Boy oh boy did that backfire! I realized that once again, I was not setting a very good example for my kids. I wish I could say that we all calmed down and ended our morning with love and sunshine, but we all fought to get out of the house in one peice under a dark cloud of crankiness.

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After this latest episode of “Watch Mommy Lose her Shit”, I realized I needed to find a way to restore calm and peace to our mornings, without letting bad attitudes turn me into a monster.

When I got to work yesterday, my co-worker suggested that I find some type of behavior reward chart since my kids are always looking for ways to get “treats”. After a quick Google search, I had found a chart that we could try the following day to see if it had any impact (you can find the one I used here at pricelessparenting.com). That night before bed, we had a family meeting to discuss why our mornings were so hard, and what we could do to fix them. Both of my kids agreed that getting dressed was the worst part, and suggested we make sure that gets done before anything else. We were also taking away all electronics in the morning, and there would be no time to play until everything on our list was done. We all went to bed with visions of sugarplums as they danced through a tantrum free morning.

And you know what? It totally worked!!!! My son had about a 3 minute episode of not wanting to get dressed because it wasn’t his normal routine, but when he saw his sister getting more stickers than him on her chart, he kicked it into high gear. My daighter- bless her beautiful little heart- was in her glory jumping through hoops to get everything on her list checked off first.

We left the house ten minutes earlier than we needed to. Which meant I didn’t have to swear under my breath when I got stopped at a railroad crossing, and made it to my desk with a few minutes to spare before jumping into the workday grind.

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Even after a good morning, this is the only face I can handle that early in the morning.

What I learned through this experience was that I needed to be more creative in my approach to problem solving as a parent. Rather than accept the fact that my kids were just terribly behaved monsters, and allow their attitudes to rub off on me, I had to make a change. I had to be the force that dissolves the bad habits, and encourages better ones. I had to find a way to move us all in a better direction.

The hardest part of trying to stop a bad habit or routine, is finding something to replace it with. Simply telling my kids to behave and do what they were told wasn’t enough. They needed another specific action to replace it with. They needed a goal and something to look forward to in the end.

And all it took was a peice of paper and some stickers.

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