Trust me, I have had enough school mornings with simmering frustration and lingering guilt to write about this with authority. You are your worst version of yourself when you are late, scrambling, and unprepared on a school morning. Your kids might even be crying when they leave the door or your vehicle.
That feeling makes you cringe, like a big “I’m a bad parent” banner is draped over your forehead. Goodness knows if they can learn anything when they have to recover from their tears and your barking voice in their
head. So while they go learn about fractions and parts of speech, the school year is your chance to brush up on the art of school routines and habits.
Helping With Homework
I’m soon coming to the top end of my useful homework helping abilities with elementary school math. But parts of speech and essay writing will be a breeze. Probably the opposite for my husband. At any rate, I know I’ll still get asked some math stuff when my husband isn’t available. What now?
In some cases, you need to listen to the emotion and watch the behaviors of your child. My oldest gets her head in a knot about putting random spelling words into a paragraph. She’s a wreck before she even starts.
So for her, it’s important to catch on to this pattern and lookout for this kind of homework. I make sure I work way more on calming her and helping with her perspective rather than “help” her too much. It’s much better for her to learn how to manage her frustration than to have me “help” too much on that assignment.
If it’s a practical knowledge element I need to help her with, the internet is a great tool. Or, grandparents might have skills and understanding that you can tap into. Sometimes they’ll take that when they’ve had it with you.
The Lesson: Be resourceful and know when to call for backup (internet, other parents, grandparents, etc) if you are stuck. Pay a lot of attention to their emotions and frustration – that may be their main issue sometimes.
Making The Morning Work
A successful morning really starts the night before. I have read that from organization experts, but now I know it from experience. There’s no reading the lunch menu five minutes before we leave and deciding you want cold lunch. Clothes are picked out the night before. If they don’t, they risk having to put powder in an dirty pair of jeans because the didn’t say they wore their last clean pair yesterday.
We’ve occasionally had a few homework uh-oh’s at bedtime. For that, I’ve woken up the forgetter thirty minutes early to complete their assignment. Not only does this get the job done, it’s an amazingly effective deterrent for future forgetting. I also require that the girls get dressed before coming to the table. This seems to help with the dawdling around. And if they (or you) oversleep a little, partly hungry and dressed is better than full tummy and in pajamas.
The Lesson: Get a few solid expectations before bed so the random morning mishaps don’t throw you too far off course.
Getting Kids To Bed
How long does it take to get kids into bed? Well, in my house you need to multiply the time by about three for every kid you add to the situation. So with all three? Practically every minute after supper is finished. Somehow, having three kids means there’s always someone who is hanging out there somewhere without being checked on in a while.
I’ve pestered the oldest to clear a path on her bedroom floor, I’ve checked the middle one on her bath, and the youngest one has been singing to herself, dancing half-naked in her closet for fifteen minutes (which is where I left her fifteen minutes ago when I last told her to get into her pj’s).
The Lesson: Have some skeleton routine and begin prompting about twenty minutes before you think you should have to. I’m kind of a free-flowing girl, so this is a big challenge for me. I just started prompting right now – hoping this is early enough tonight.
Lessons For A Lifetime
Moms and dads, your lessons are just as important as the ones your kids learn. After some decades, the math facts will get fuzzy, the parts of speech will dangle just outside of your memory, and you won’t know your periodic table that well. But you always remember what your mom and dad taught you about being responsible, being prepared, and doing your best for school. Those habits and lessons will keep their life moving forward long after their last homework assignment is handed in.