I’m not a morning person, which is why on weekends or days off, I take the liberty of sleeping in and letting my dear husband assume morning duties with the kids. He doesn’t mind, really. He gets up at something like 4 AM anyway, and by the time the kids are up he’s already well into his day and chipper enough to make their oatmeal to the precise desired consistency without wanting to throw it at the wall. But on school days, when he has to get ready for work himself, I get up bright and early along with the rest of them so I can orchestrate the process of sending everyone off to school.
To do this, with minimal suffering to everyone, I have developed an intricate system based around the cartoon schedule on PBS. I know, this is a like admitting that I ply them with candy when I want their rooms clean, but I have always favored the path of least resistance. It works like this:
6:00 They get up & dressed on their own while I fix their breakfast. They are speedy because they know that being ready by 6:30 means–da ding–Cyber Chase is on KET 2.
6:30 I make their lunches, snacks, and fill assorted other mandatory obligations. You would think I would plan ahead and do this the night before, but I like to live on the edge and living the dull suburban life, I rarely have opportunities as good as this.
6:50 The instant CyberChase ends, they come scrambling back from relative silence to get their hair combed and their shoes tied. (Yes, I know I need to teach them to tie their shoes. Refer to earlier blog about how I can’t teach anyone to do anything, and also my above comment about the path of least resistance)
7:00 Back in front of the television, a quick switch to KET 1, and they get to watch exactly one episode of Arthur (about 13.5 minutes by my calculations) before they need to make their final bathroom trip, put on their coats, and stand ready at the door for their carpool.
The best part of this system is that even the two little ones, who can’t tell time, are well versed enough in cartoon segments (thanks to hours of practice during their toddler years) that they immediately know what to do at each break without me ever having to nag or prod them to move along. Am I bribing them to cooperate in the morning? Well, not exactly, because I’ve never threatened to turn off the cartoons if they don’t comply. I don’t subscribe to ‘parenting tricks’; My kids have never responded to threats or by-the-book reward systems, or even “time out.” But they do respond to common sense, humor, and the occasional off the wall decision (fun or otherwise) that keeps them on their toes and guessing about just how crazy their mother can be. And either I have really good kids, or I’ve lucked into something here, because for the most part, it works like a charm.
That is, it will work until PBS changes their schedule around; the yoga lady or a GED class just aren’t going to cut it if I want to get them off to school on time…