We try so hard to figure out how to do every day things like:
- get out the door in the morning in a timely fashion
- get kids in bed and asleep on time
- have homework done easily and smoothly
- have chores done without whining and complaining
- limit screen time
When every day seems to be a screaming match or a melt down we just want to crawl back into bed and start over.
I have some great news for you. There's hope! Yes, in your family's craziness there is hope. I want to encourage you to harness the power of your family. These are PROBLEMS that are FAMILY PROBLEMS which means that the FAMILY should solve them, not just mom or dad. What a concept, eh?
Take getting ready in the morning as an example. Whatever your hot points in the morning are -- kids not getting dressed, not waking up, not eating breakfast, getting distracted with toys, not having their backpack or lunch ready, forgetting their backpack or shoes or their brain -- here's a step by step plan to experiment with:
Step 1 - Schedule a Family Meeting
The time you choose should be when things are relatively calm without distractions. Some families do this on Friday nights before Pizza/Movie Night starts, others hold it on Sunday afternoon or evening. The important thing is to pick a calm time where everyone is available.
Step 2 - Hold Meeting #1
Discuss how the family has trouble getting out the door in the morning. Have someone take notes (if possible, not mom or dad) about the issues that have come up in the past week that make folks late. Ask for input on how to experiment for just one week for each problem area. Let's say Bob keeps waking up late. The proposal would be for Bob to set his alarm 10 minutes earlier all week and see if it helps. There's no commitment to do it forever but to experiment and try it. Another experiment might be to pre-pack lunches the night before or choose what to wear the night before. The whole idea of this meeting is to brainstorm a whole bunch of ideas then pick a few to try for just a week. Be careful not to make it about one person, spread the ideas around so everyone can participate.
Step 3 - Do it!
Each day of the next week run your experiments and just observe. No need to be overly critical, just observe.
Step 4 - Hold Meeting #2
On a similar calm day or evening as Meeting #1 gather up your troops and have a pow wow about how Week 1's experiments went. Get feedback from everyone! The idea is not to blame but to problem solve. If something worked well that week, yeah! If it didn't, then brainstorm again either using ideas from the first round that weren't tried or coming up with new ideas. At the end of this meeting you'll have experiments to run for Week #2. In this case it might be for Bob to set two alarms, one 15 minutes earlier and one just 10 minutes earlier. Your family might also decide to simplify breakfast so that only one menu choice is offered but rotate the offering each day of the week to something different. The point is, come up with some new ideas and try them!
Step 5 - Head back to Step 3 and keep going around until the problem has been solved using as many experiments as it takes to solve the problem.
Step 6 - Celebrate!
When a family comes together to solve a problem they learn amazingly valuable skills that will last them a lifetime so take time to celebrate! Learning to recognize a problem, come up with ideas, be willing to try things and then adjust if they don't work out the first time is so empowering to each child. The modeling that you will be doing for your family is essential! Kids knowing that things don't get solved in a day but through a process of trial and error is critical and often missing from our very busy schedules.