I am not what one would describe as an ultra-organized person. My organization skills don’t stretch much further than my iPhone calendar and a lot of Post-It notes at work. So when I was faced with the suggestion of providing more structure to try to make mornings go smoother with my four-year-old, I panicked. But our mornings had been rough enough that I knew I needed to change SOMETHING.
Basically, my seven-year-old daughter and I were bending over backward to try to keep the youngest from crying and stressing us out. We were helping her get dressed, immediately meeting her demands of chocolate milk, turning on her favorite show, and ignoring her extreme bed head because she was adamant about not brushing her hair. It was getting ridiculous, and I’m glad someone finally called me on it.
My daughter’s preschool teachers offered up the idea of a chore chart, that would allow my daughter to mark off very simple tasks in the morning to give her some sort of direction and then, hopefully, a feeling of accomplishment that would drive her to keep doing those things. I mentioned I’m not organized, but I’m also not crafty. So I pulled out an old whiteboard and printed off clip art of a kid getting dressed, brushing their teeth, brushing their hair and eating breakfast. I taped the images on the whiteboard and made two columns for each of my daughters. When they accomplished each chore, they got to use the marker to mark it off.
The first few days were rough. When my four-year-old realized I wasn’t going to wait on her hand and foot in the morning anymore, she cried for 45 minutes the first day. But the crying time kept getting shorter and shorter as we went through the week. By day 4, we were tearless! I heavily employed my 7-year-old to help me make this “fun”, so they almost treat it as a competition to see who can get their chart marked off first. The older one admittedly lets the younger one win because she’s trying to help me, and thank goodness she does because it seems to be working!
It seems like such a simple thing that I truly did not think would work. How could a whiteboard really change our routine? But it has made our mornings MUCH smoother. I almost hate to write about it because I don’t want to jinx it! I will very likely start adding some tasks to the chore chart as they get older and the morning routine starts to become more of a habit.
The bottom line is I felt like I kind of knew what to expect when it came to parenting after having my first child. But this second bundle of joy is COMPLETELY different than my first. I don’t feel like I was ever truly at a loss with my first daughter, but I sometimes feel like I always am with my second one. She is an amazingly ornery, fun, stubborn child. She has taught me so much about remembering that it is okay to ask for help, to get guidance and to try new things. Like a chore chart! I’m now even considering getting one for my husband. Kidding. Kind of.