Parenting encompasses a lot of responsibilities: keeping up with schedules, food, clothes, emotions, work, friends, self-care, relationships, pets, and…well SO MUCH. Sometimes it feels like you live by the the clock, and it’s always a countdown to something: school, work, bedtime, or the next adventure. You glance at the clock every few minutes to see how you’re progressing and see you have 30 minutes…then 24…15…9…only 2 minutes left and “we’ve got to go!” The pressure of the moving long hand brings you to the brink of panic as you notice you’re running out of time, no one is ready, and so begins the count down for your kids, “Hurry! Don’t dawdle! Quit dragging your feet! What are you DOING?!”
What if there was a better way to get out the door – a way that supported your children’s growth and development while also nurturing your relationship with them?
Oftentimes focusing on the clock not only slows down the process of getting somewhere, but also bypasses important opportunities for you to teach your children life skills and nurture your relationship with them. The more children are nagged, rushed, and pushed, the more they drag their feet and complain, “I’m going as fast as I can! Stop rushing me!”
Creating a rhythm allows you to remove your focus from the clock and return it to your role as an everyday parent. It is the everyday of parenting that teaches children life skills and builds a strong parent-child relationship. Everyday parenting is about
- helping children look for the tag on the shirt and recognize the correct shoe for their left foot
- finding ways to help your children remember to fill their water bottle and get their backpack
- responding to big feelings about school or a lost toy with empathy and kindness
- encouraging siblings to jump their way to the kitchen together;
- smiling and giggling together with your kids when you realize the keys you were looking for were right there in your hand.
And creating a rhythm allows you to enjoy the everyday-life skill building that goes on, and the bits of time you have to nurture your relationship with your children and their relationship with each other.
So how do I get out the door on time if I’m not looking at the clock?!
You’ve done the morning routine more than 20 times by now. You already know what has to be done and about how long it takes. Instead of focusing on the clock, begin your morning as you normally do. And after one task is complete simply move on the to next: do the next thing. You don’t actually need to look at the clock because you do the same routine every single morning. You will WANT to look at the clock (it might be fun to count how many times you go to look – ha)! Try to resist. Give or take a few minutes, it all happens in about the same time. Every. Single Day.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Just give it a try.
On mornings when you wake up late or something goes askew, simply move some of that rhythm to the car or find something to skip (for us it’s usually brushing the hair).
Remember, parenting is about the everyday moments of putting on shoes, gathering lunches, responding to upset, and giving hugs; it’s these everyday parenting moments that lead us to our longterm goals: supporting our children as they learn responsibility and respect for self and others, teaching kindness, compassion and empathy through our behavior toward them, having a relationship with our children when they’re adults, and so much more. Don’t let the clock get in the way of important everyday moments of learning and connection. Don’t let it be more important than relationship.
Yes, you have to get out the door. But yelling and nagging and trying to rush your kids truly does just slow everyone down. Instead, try a rhythm. Try to stop focusing on the clock and instead just do the next thing. Do it for a few mornings and see how it goes.
Part 2: Use a rhythm chart and focus on long-term goals.
Also, learn how the clock interferes with bedtime too.