This post will not include school lunch recipes or quick and healthy snack ideas that fit in a 6×8 inch Spider-Man lunch box and make you look like you’ve studied food presentation at a high-end culinary school for three years. Nor will it include sappy nostalgia about babies growing up, or holding your child’s heart forever. Not that I think there is anything wrong with posts like that, but this ain’t one of them.
No, this post is all about handling the morning madness. Or laughing at it. Either option is fine. The only thing not acceptable is throwing your hands in the air and stomping to your room. If you start doing that shit in September it’s going to be a long school year.
As you know I aim for sanity, but being able to be amused by the crazy is a solid second – and I’m starting to prefer silver anyway.
If you asked me for tips on how to make school mornings less of a battle zone and more of a happy place, I would do what I usually do and share what works for me. Or rather, what sometimes works for me, because as we all know nothing ever works all of the time.
Since we are all in the midst of the summer/school transition I took the liberty of not waiting to be asked 😉
The dreaded wake up
5 year old: In the still dark room, quietly say, “Rise and shine, buddy, you get to go to school today!” A happy child is a productive child. Nobody has time for noodle legs while wrestling into a pair of pants. Try to start the day off on a happy note. A soft voice with a happy tone is your best shot. It’s likely all going to go to shit anyway, but even a few minutes of a smiling face is better than dealing with Mr. Cranky pants first thing in the morning.
15 year old: Turn on the light as you bellow “Rise and Shine!” Accompanying jazz hands are optional but encouraged, especially if your teen’s eyes actually open upon entry (although I admit that the jazz hands are more for my amusement than my sanity). The moan and rollover technique that will follow does not mean you should leave the room. It means just the opposite, actually. You need to start talking. About anything. Pause only to breathe. When you start getting more than one word responses it is safe to leave the room. You may however, have to repeat the above unless you make sure your teen is vertical before walking out.
Don’t give more than two or three choices. Three is being generous. This morning the choices were oatmeal, granola/yogurt/berries, or get yourself something. Both kids opted to get themselves a banana and a yogurt. The little kiddo also convinced the big kiddo to slice him a piece of cheddar. Do not start making them pancakes with bacon and scrambled eggs during the first week of school. Set the bar low. By October you’ll thank me.
Appropriate school clothes
5 year old: Pick out clothes the night before. Do this every night even though your 5 year old will only wear a predetermined outfit two of the five school days per week. On the other three days just make sure he is wearing all of the components. Shirt, pants, underwear and socks. Does it really matter if he matches? Does it really matter if his pants are too short? Dressing himself is an art form, just make sure you remind him to tell the teacher that he picked out his own clothes. Morning battles over clothing are unnecessary and exhausting, and regardless of who wins, everyone still loses.
15 year old: One word – clean. Teenagers don’t smell themselves. It has something to do with the hormones being released and the maturation of the nasal cavity. I made that up. Obviously. My point? Teenage boys will wear the same shirt all week, and they don’t care. Stand firm in your expectation of clean clothes. If its not clean, squirt ketchup on them while they make their own breakfast. No one wants to go to school with ketchup stains. Make sure you switch out the ketchup for mustard or juice occasionally to keep your cover. Also, if there is a shirt they love, go back to the store and buy two more. Or ten.
5 year old: “Time to brush your teeth!” Followed by the biggest smile you can muster. The goal, of course, is to have them brush their teeth by themselves when you ask, and to do a decent job. Sometimes this will happen. Do not resort to holding the top of their head while jabbing the toothbrush aimlessly around their mouth. Imagine someone doing that to you? Not cool. I have recently started telling my 5 year old that it is more fun to brush your teeth while standing on one foot, spinning in slow circles, or while trying to say “how much woodchuck could a woodchuck chuck…” This tip falls into both the sanity and amusement category.
15 year old: “Did you put on deodorant and brush your teeth?” Again, big smile. If the answer is yes, congratulations, your kid has a girlfriend/boyfriend. If the answer is no, give the death glare. You can even throw in an exasperated “really?” but I find it’s more effective to say something like, “mmmm, fuzzy teeth and pit stink, I miss being 15.” Don’t be offended by the loud sigh, that’s just teenage code for you’re the most awesome mother ever.
5 year old: Tell him a new knock-knock joke while he puts on his sneakers. Laughing just before leaving sets the tone for the day. And he’s 5, the joke doesn’t even have to make sense. If you can’t think of a joke suitable for a 5 year old just ask him if he farted. That will produce giggles, I promise.
15 year old: This one comes easily for me, we joke around all the time. If you don’t laugh with your teen you should really give it a try. If you can’t produce the funny, try texting your teen something you find on the internet (not porn) while he’s at the bus stop. The big kiddo and I watch Criminal Minds together so when I’m not feeling the funny I’ll just send him something Spencer said, as he is one of the few television characters that makes the kiddo guffaw.
So there you have it, a glimpse into my mornings. Some mornings are wonderful and happy, some mornings are utter shit. If they are clean, fed, dressed and can muster a smile it’s classified as a success. Making sure I’m clean, fed, dressed, smiling and at work on time is a bonus.
Happy back-to-school week! There will be a celebration on Friday for those to make it through. Wine will be provided.