Make Mornings Better {through patience + planning}


Make Mornings Better {through patience + planning}

I have three kids ranging from age 7 to 14. Their schools all start at different times, which makes my mornings very long (sigh). They also have three distinct personalities that come with their own morning challenges. One is sleepy and moody, not a morning person. One is up early but defiant and stubborn, needs to do things when he is ready. And one is punctual and on top of it all, making my job harder because she leaves first and I am not always ready or awake myself which causes her to shout. If there is one thing I hate, it’s shouting. Especially in the morning.

Last year, I made a chart of sorts for my one that just cannot get her body moving in the morning. It wasn’t really a chart as much as a way for her to visually see what she needed to do. This totally worked for us. It helped her understand and grasp the fact that the mornings were hers to own (or hers to ruin). By taking me out of the equation, she actually did everything she needed to do because she was in control. We had this chart up for no more than two weeks and then it wasn’t needed anymore. Why it took me 4 years to figure this out is a mystery.

DIY good morning chart ~ teach kids to own their day | artbarblog.com

Make your own Good Morning chart:

shoe box lid / scissors / piece of cardboard / white glue / markers or paint / photos of your child doing the things that need to get done

I simply cut a shoebox lid in half and glued it to a piece of cardboard. I decorated it for her because she was honestly not into this idea at all. She thought it was “babyish”. But I convinced her by telling her that it would make mommy not have to talk to her at all! She liked that idea. We took photos of her in the midst of her morning tasks. All she had to do was move the photos from one pocket to another. She still is slow to get up, but she knows what to do and that if she doesn’t do it, I will have to speak to her (are you getting the picture that she is not a morning person?).

Here are some tips that might help you with your morning routine…the goal being less shouting, smoother transitions, and an overall kinder & gentler start to the day. These tips hinge on the fact that you wake up before them and get yourself ready, or as ready as you can. It will be virtually impossible to use many of these tools if you are running around like crazy yourself (I know this through experience)!

The slow-moving child: This child is not a morning person. Look out!

1. This may seem obvious, but wake them up way before they need to be ready. I start waking mine one hour before she has to leave. It takes about three or four trips to her room, but by the time she starts moving we still have 40 minutes.

2. Get them a digital clock. This way you can tell them that they have until 7:15 to get themselves up (of course we say 7:15 but we know that they really have until 7:25)

3. Lower your expectations and be patient. This child needs a long transition from sleep to wake. Respecting this will help both of you.

4. Do not rush them. Which goes back to my first point…give them plenty of time to wake.

5. Have them do as much as they can the night before. Usually, if they are not a morning person they are a night owl. Have them lay out their clothes with their choice of shoes, pack their backpacks with their homework, and even put out their own placemat and bowl for their breakfast in the morning. The more they practice this (it may take years, have heart), the more they will begin to own it. Once it’s theirs, they will miraculously do it all without help! Trust me, this does happen…but takes practice and patience.

The worrier child: This child is full of “what-ifs”. What if I did my home work wrong? What if it snows when I’m in school? What if I feel sick?

1. Talk about their tomorrow the night before. Simply say “Let’s talk about your routine tomorrow”. You can start with waking up, all the way to getting on the bus. Let them lead, this way questions will arise that you can work on together. Don’t bring up anything they haven’t mentioned!! You don’t want to add to their anxiety. This exercise is meant to prepare them for tomorrow. You are not only giving them one-on-one time with you, you are getting to know how their mind works and helping them learn that they can solve problems. It’s a nice time to reassure them that you guys are a team.

2. Listen to their needs. They may not always be convenient or plausible, but they are worthy. Sometimes they may want to be driven to school. If this is doable for you, then consider this as an option. You may feel like sometimes you are indulging them, and there certainly is a fine line between coddling and respecting their needs, but the more you let them feel that they have choices in their life, the more their confidence will grow.

3. Model making mistakes. Let them see you mess-up and teach them that you have to sometimes let things go, or find creative solutions. And things will be ok! I make many mistakes. I once forgot to get dressed and drove my son to school. I still had my PJs on and hair twisted on top of my head. I literally did not want to be seen. But instead I just said “whatever! nobody will look anyway”. He thought is was hilarious and we had a private joke about it. My kids say “remember that time…” quite a bit. I am constantly messing up.

4. Don’t use sarcasm, but do use humor. Sarcasm isn’t a good idea with any type of kid, but for the worrier who is already sensitive, it can make them feel worse. Do try and lighten and loosen up their body by cracking jokes and being silly. My son loves when I do stupid voices. Laughing is good medicine!

5. Use large motor muscles. A little expenditure of energy can create a calm feeling. Have them do some jumping jacks, push ups, burpees!

6. Deep breaths (for both of you) is the key to staying calm. And have patience.

The defiant child: This child will engage in power struggles if you let them.

1. Don’t be controlling. If they want to wear their black hoodie for the 4th day in a row, what’s the big deal. If you want to talk to them about how it’s gross and how you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on other clothes, save that talk for the evening. You do want to have a voice and a say in your child’s choice making, but don’t do it in the morning.

2. Be extremely patient. More than any other personality, this one will make you want to scream. How can they possibly decide one minute before the bus comes that they don’t want to wear their coat? Let me say from experience, here is how that will go if you demand they put their coat back on: “Fine, if I wear my coat then I’m not going to school. ” This is not a road you want to take when the bus is waiting at your house. Here’s a better option: “Ok, well put it in your backpack in case you get cold”. I know, it feels like you have lost. But really, you have won. He is on the bus!

3. Their battles are usually never about the thing that they are battling you over. Let them “win” but make sure to revisit the battle later in the day when emotions aren’t so high. As in the case of the coat vs. school fiasco, it turned out that all the boys in his class weren’t wearing coats anymore. Wearing a coat wasn’t “cool”. It took him one week of putting it in his backpack for him to start wearing it on the bus again. He said that he was wearing his coat again because he was being smart. A ha! I won after all.

4. No yelling. Ever. At least not in the morning. But really, try to yell at the defiant child as little as possible. It will only show them that you have lost control of your emotions, and that will be all they need to dig their heels in even deeper.

5. Deep breaths!! And don’t forget to pamper yourself a little. Whether it’s a morning run, or a giant brownie, knowing that a “reward” is waiting for you at the end just makes things better.

The moody child: This one will bite your head off, then give you hugs right after.

1. Plan ahead. Making sure everything is in order the night before will help with the lashing out the next morning.

2. Know their triggers. Sometimes it’s like walking on eggshells with these ones. But over the years you get to know them and what sets them off. Usually, for us, it’s their siblings! Which is a bummer because I can’t get rid of her brother. In our house, the little guy is not allowed to talk to his sister in the morning. Not one word. Of course that doesn’t always happen, so sometimes there is screaming. That’s when you take deep breaths and think of your reward.

3. Get out of their way. Mostly moody people are their own worst enemies. There’s nothing you’ve done, it’s just who they are. As moms, we can only hand them what they need and step out of their path.

4. Don’t take anything personally! And tell them you love them before they slam the door to leave. If yours is like mine, she’ll usually feel bad about her behavior and will run back to give you a hug.

5. Humor doesn’t work. Like I said….just say as little as possible and focus on the beautiful moment after they leave. If you feel like you need to teach them to be nicer and less moody, save that talk for the evening. Remember… our goal is a peaceful morning.

The perfectionist child: This child needs everything to be exactly they way they want it to be. Very little flexibility.

1. Expect crying, and try to not say things like “oh my God, please don’t cry”. This will make them cry more.

2. Make sure they have all of their ducks in a row the night before. Outfit picked (with shoes…shoes are very important because believe me, there is lots of crying in the morning when there are just no shoes to go with the outfit), backpack all set with completed homework, hairstyle picked out. Whatever needs to get done in the morning, do it at night.

3. Show them how you aren’t perfect, but you’re still happy and life is good. This may not be appropriate in the morning rush, but make a point to model un-perfectionist behavior and to have talks when it’s the right moment. In time, they will get to know who they are and start to realize that being average is just fine. Maybe not all the time, but occasionally. What a relief!

4. Button your mouth. Keep all opinions to yourself in the morning. Just tell them they look amazing, give them hugs and kisses.

The older child: This child is in 7th grade or above.

1. Do they really need us anymore? I certainly have many friends who do not get up with their teens. Their kids make their own lunches and see themselves out the door. I think this is awesome!! I’m completely for it if you have the kind of child who loves his/her independence. My oldest is not quite there yet, so I still wake to pack her lunch and give her a kiss goodbye. She kind of still needs that attention.

2. Work towards independence. Again, every child is different. Some are more coachable, some will let you do everything for them until they are 50 years old. But every child needs to leave the nest at 18 so helping them do things for themselves is good parenting. The more confident they feel in taking care of themselves, the better for both of you!

All in all, the most important ingredients to a smooth, yelling free morning are planning and patience. And it goes without saying that nobody is perfect. It’s through trial and many errors (and lots of reading) that I have found what works for my family. We have had completely bad years where I just weep and feel bad every day. That’s when I make changes, try new things, and talk to my kids. It’s never too late to turn over a new leaf! And alway include them in the process. Being open and honest about their strengths and weaknesses helps them discover who they are.

I’m sure you could add to this list so please share your tried & true tips for getting through the morning!!

xo, Bar

PS: It’s a tough job, mothering. You are doing great!!

 

A Quiet Moment


A Quiet Moment

From the author Katrina Kenison, this passage struck home with me.

“When I come to a stop myself, when I draw a circle of stillness around me, my children are drawn into that peaceful place. They visibly relax, as if my very calmness nourishes them. The impact of just a few minutes of quiet attention can be profound, changing the mood of an entire day, restoring equilibrium to a distressed child, and to a frazzled mother.

We might sit side by side and draw, or gather up a stack of favorite old picture books and read them, make strange creatures out of clay, or just cuddle on the couch and listen to music as darkness falls. These are the moments when my children reveal themselves to me, when conversation spirals up and out, from the here and now into the realm of spirit and imagination. There, in that place Tennyson calls the ‘quiet limit of the world,’ we connect with one another at a very deep soul level. My children know then that they have my full attention and, even more important, that there’s no other place I’d rather be at that moment.”

As my children grow older, it gets harder to find quiet moments (or to even find them). I think my solution is that I have to plan the moments rather than happen upon them. Not quite as spontaneous (which is the way I roll), but maybe even more necessary now than when they were little.

Here’s hoping we all can create a quiet moment with our children this weekend…I know I will try!

xo, Bar

 

Make: Name Garland


Make: Name Garland

make a name garland @artbarblog

craft punch + paint chips ~ make a garland | @artbarblog

I’m loving the way this garland came out. It’s super easy to make and uses all free materials….my favorite kind of craft! To see the full post and tutorial, hop on over to Small for Big.

Happy Monday everybody!!

xo Bar

 

Art For Littles + A Brilliant Pinterest Board


Art For Littles + A Brilliant Pinterest Board

For the past month I’ve really been wanting to write a new series that focuses on art for the toddler/preschool age. Since my youngest is seven, we have grown out of that stage. I remember those days “in the trenches” with such a mix of happiness and weariness. We did explore art, but I wish I had known about the world of blogs because I could have used some fresh ideas!

So here’s the funny thing that happened while I was working on this draft. I was asked by a blogger, whom I really admire, if I wanted to be part of a group of moms who write about art projects for their little kids. How amazing and serendipitous, right?! Of course I said yes!! They call themselves the Rockin’ Art Moms… and now I am one, too. Yee-haw! We have a collaborative Pinterest board that you MUST follow this instant. It is a place where you can find all of the best art projects for your little ones (and bigger ones, too).

The above collage is a mix of some really super creative sensory/play/process art ideas to do with your littlest artists. Included are some Rockin’ Art Mom ideas, but I will also continue to share more of their ideas with you on a monthly basis. I hope this new series will be helpful and inspiring!

From top left: Making sculptures with a wire basket from Stephanie at Two-daloo // Watercolor heart doilies from Jean at The Artful Parent // Scissor exercises from Jackie at Happy Hooligans // People playdough mats {free printable} from Kate at Picklebums // Nature shadow boxes from Deborah at Teach Preschool // Shaving cream bathtub paint from Trisha at momdot // Magazine art from guest blogger Deborah on Classic Play // Marbled milk paper from Ana at Babble Dabble Do // Recycled box community from Meri at Meri Cherry // Paint blot art from Jeanette at Artchoo // Citrus printing from Sarah at Lil Sugar // Marshmallow shooter from Laura at Come Together Kids

12 Rockin' Art Moms unite to create a collaborative board providing you with awesome art projects for kids. We believe in the power of creativity as a necessary part of kids' lives. Rock on!

And now to introduce all of the Rockin’ Art Moms:

Ana from Babble Dabble Do

Meri from Meri Cherry (thank you for inviting me!!)

Jeanette from Artchoo and Tiny Rotten Peanuts

Melissa from Green Owl Art

Suja from Blog Me Mom

Kristen from Art History Mom

Gina from Willowday

Asia from Fun At Home With Kids

Stephanie from Two-daloo

Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy

Leslie from Pink Stripey Socks

I’m very excited to be able to learn from these 11 cool ladies, and to share their projects with you on a monthly basis. Rock on!!

xo, Bar

 

Cardboard Box Animals


Cardboard Box Animals

recycled art ~ animals made from cardboard boxes {free animal templates} | art bar

recycled art ~ animals made from cardboard boxes {free animal templates} | art bar

We have quite a few boxes leftover from our move in December. Like, a hundred or a thousand. A sea of brown boxes. If any of you have moved recently, you know what a downer it can be to have these boxes still sitting in the corners of all your rooms. The recycler in me had to make something out of them. These animals only took two boxes, unfortunately. But I have only just begun! Check out the tutorial on how to make these today over at Small for Big.

Have a happy Monday!

xo Bar