Maybe I’m the problem.

I have been experiencing a lot of frustration in the mornings.  Like the kind where I wonder if my children have brains?

In order to earn “ticket time” (30 min. of TV, Wii, or computer games) after school, they have to complete a list of tasks in the morning before they leave for school.

It’s not hard stuff, people, and it does not matter when they wake up, we are still scrambling to get out the door on time.  It makes me crazy.  Every time I check on them, they are doing something else.  “Oops.  I forgot,” after I bark an order to get back on task or we’re going to be late. “I can’t find my homework.”  “Why didn’t you put it in your backpack when you were done?!” (like I’ve reminded you every. single. time.)  “Can I just have lunch money today?  I don’t have time.”  “No.  I told you last night to make your sandwich before you went to bed, and you’ve been playing with stuffed animals for the last 10 minutes.” My Facebook status the other day said, “Teaching my children personal responsibility may be the death of me.”  I’ve been wondering:

Why can’t they seem to handle simple tasks that would make their lives (and mine) so much easier?  It’s not like I haven’t taught them.  They have an easy checklist, for heaven’s sake.

Then I saw this article the other day.

It’s called, “Nicer Moms Have Smarter Kids.”

Oh good grief.

Fine.

Remember my goal for the year?  If I can stick to it, maybe my children will be smart enough to remember where they put their shoes.

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19 thoughts on “Maybe I’m the problem.

  1. Well, the only thing that comes to mind is let them have the consequences. If you are following them around all morning telling them what to do (not that I don’t do this too), they aren’t taking responsibility-you are. If they go to school with no lunch, no coat, hair uncombed in flip flops and lose their electronic time that afternoon-so be it. It’s hard for me to stand back and let the kids have their consequences, but its getting easier because I’m getting tired. I’ve already done this 18 years and have 14 more to go. I’m tired of herding them around to get things done. Consequences! And I hope it works!

  2. One day I was so frustrated with children’s propensity to forget to do what was on their lists that I stapled the lists to their shirts. They didn’t like it much, but they did see the humor in it. And they did their jobs.

    Good luck. Even with teenagers there is much reminding. And shoe losing. Paul lost one church shoe for over three weeks. He had to make do with his big brother’s oversized shoes for church three Sundays in a row. I didn’t help look for the shoes because I’m done with that–it was not my problem and Paul had to learn how to solve it himself, and learn how to deal with the consequences of not putting his shoes where he was supposed to. Paul finally found the missing shoe. Good thing, because big brother took back his shoes and left for the MTC.

  3. I’m coming to realize that truly the nicest thing I can do for my children is to make them self sufficient. That means that when they fail to do tasks, they have to suffer the natural consequences and the nicest thing I can do in that very frustrating situation is say “bummer for you” and not otherwise react. It is also the most difficult thing I can do. But I have found that the more we repeat the pattern, I give advice and instruction, they make a choice for good or ill and receive the attendant consequences, the more they are getting it. I have also found that the cooler and more fun I can make positive consequences (some day we will move on to intrinsic rewards, today we are eeking by with extrinsic ones), the more motivated they become to do the thing they need to do in the first place. Sometimes earning media minutes is too far away of a reward to take out the trash in the morning, make the bed and practice piano, but the promise of a girl scout cookie in the lunch box (where zero sweets is the norm) lights a fire under their little behinds in truly fantastical ways. I am currently praising Girl Scouts as a result :) And I keep muttering “baby steps” and “just keep swimming” to myself.

  4. I am hoping that it is just kids in general. My kids know that have to brush teeth every morning and night, brush their hair in the morning and put on socks and shoes. This year my 11 year old finally started doing most of those items without me reminding him, can I get a hallelujah!! I seriously wonder if they would forget to get dressed if I didn’t remind them. My belief is that maybe it comes with age????

  5. Some days I wonder why it matters so much to me When and How the work gets done. And on those days, when I’m honest with myself, I realize that it matters because IT GETS IN MY WAY if y’all don’t get on it IN THE MORNING when I tell you to. Also, I love me some control, and things get a little cranky around here when I am without it.

    I want my kids to be self-reliant. I do. I want them to need me JUST ENOUGH to really, really appreciate me. :) But teaching and demanding are different, and I know this about me: I tend toward the demanding. Dang it.

    • Yes, YES! This is it. It messes up the routine of the day and their stuff is in my way and it’s still going to have to be done later on top of homework and every thing else …. JUST DO IT NOW LIKE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO AND MY LIFE WILL BE EASIER AND YOUR LIFE WILL BE EASIER.

      Sigh.

      I think you pegged me.

  6. I have the same problems. Thanks for the reminder that I need to be nicer. My focus for me this year is to ignore the bad & praise the good. Its a hard one, that I often lose focus of. This just refocused me. Thanks

  7. you are not alone in this problem! I have the same problem with my kids! It drives me nuts too, but I think its just what kids do, unfortunately for us. Sorry I have no solutions, but I do have a sympathic ear. Each day is a challenge, but we have prayer and the Lord to help us get through it all. We are never alone. :)

  8. Ugh! You totally hit the nail on the head! Something that has recently helped me is to parent my kids with love and logic. It’s just like it sounds-the empathy first, then the consequence. If my daughter doesn’t get her chores done, she gets consequences. If, by not doing her chores, it affects my chores, one of her consequences is that she gets to help me do my chores. Granted I have to wait for her to get home from school. Anyway, I’m not doing a great job explaining this. Google Love & Logic. I was able to attend classes for free in my community. Best of luck to you!

  9. Yes, you have to stop commanding and let them feel the consequences of their choices. In 20 years you won’t remember if the floor was perfectly swept. Children who gain experience in failure and consequence on a small scale without being guilted are much better prepared to take responsibility seriously as an adult. A million years ago, if a child asked to ___ after school, I would ask, is your list done? The answer was usually their answer. They could see that enjoyment was directly linked to procrastination or production. They often taught this to their friends. But…..nothing will ever go perfectly with several different people in a home. Laugh when you can; cry when you must.

  10. I am just glad that I’m not the only mom who has to use Miralax on a regular basis! ;)

    I don’t know, but the after school reward may be too far in the future for them to care right at the moment in the morning. I can already see that this is a battle that I’m going to have with my kids- my 6 year old whines EVERY morning for me to put on his shoes and socks. I keep telling him- you are the ONLY kid in this house who is capable of putting your shoes on yourself- I am not going to do it!

    Good luck!

  11. So, the question is, are the kids smart because the mom is nice, or can the mom be extra nice, because the kids don’t do dumb things?! :)

  12. Pfft. That’s me snorting in derision over your guilt.

    Stephanie, whose voice do you think will be screeching through their heads when they have a college paper due and they want to go paintballing with their friends? Sure won’t be Mr. Rogers voice, mostly cuz he’s dead and stuff.

    You’re nice. I’m nice. For a given quantity of “nice.” Cuz I also know a lot of “nice” parents whose adult kids are absolute monsters. Seriously, pitchfork and torches kinds of monsters.

  13. I don’t think you’re the problem. I don’t think they’re the problem. I think mornings are the problem. Seriously, don’t you think everything would run so much smoother if you didn’t have to be anywhere before 10am?

    Don’t have any real answers for you, sorry. My girls are 10 and 8, and we’re homeschooling this year, and they’re finally starting to get the morning routine. They need gentle reminders, but usually we get beds made, dressed, the kitchen and living room cleaned up and the dishwasher unloaded without too much hassle. Most days.

    Which doesn’t mean I don’t hate mornings.

  14. I’m in the same boat with my kindergartner. The other day I was finishing up a couple things and asked him to brush his teeth, get his water to go with his lunch, and get his shoes on. I was finishing up a few things and getting his sisters ready to go. I was getting my coat when I realized he hadn’t done ANYTHING! Argh! I was so frustrated. Guess what he was doing? Reading the Book of Mormon Stories. I was still a little erked. But I had to laugh a little and told him next time to do what he was asked and if he has time he can go back to what he was doing but he needed to be on time for school. We barely made it in time that day.

  15. One thing that worked for us was to use a timer which changed the “reminder” from Mom to an inanimate object. For some reason that made a difference. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that all the frustration ceased, but it did improve. Oh, and no matter how difficult it is, follow through on those consequences! In ten or twenty years you’ll get your reward :)

  16. I struggle with the same thing every morning. Oi. Last night I laid everything out ahead of time. Table set for breakfast, lunch making supplies out on counter, etc . . . I came down from getting dressed, expecting my girls to be dressed and eating breakfast. Instead, Emma had decided to make Becca’s sandwich, and Becca hadn’t had breakfast because the bowls were on the table but the milk wasn’t (she assumed that meant there WAS no milk – umm, check the fridge, kid).

    I had to do some serious deep breathing before finding it in me to thank and praise Emma for making her sister’s sandwich (when really I wanted to tell her off for not getting dressed and eating breakfast like she should have).

    It’s frustrating, and we definitely have not found our morning groove yet (after how long?!), but I think kids are going to be kids no matter how we organize things. Learning to be okay with that, well, for me that’s the tricky bit.

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