“Now that school is back in session and I need to get both kids out the door and myself to work, I’m always running late. No matter how early I get up and get everything prepared the night before, my 4 yr. old is sooo slow and it is a nightmare…No matter how I phrase the request, “Let’s get our clothes on so we can get something to eat, who can do this faster let’s race, or who wants to be a cheetah or a turtle, do you want to do it or me, pick between these two shirts, etc….he will take the opposite position or just start whining or collapse to the floor… refusing to move, making it virtually impossible for me to help him get dressed which I have to do or else it would take another half hour…..He is also very stubborn and will remove all his clothes because he didn’t do it himself ……He will say, “I don’t want to get up or pee” even though I know he needs to do these things and he is so slow that I find myself losing it… All the time, I’ve got my 17 mo. old on my hip crying to get downstairs to eat….I want all of us to have as full of a bucket as we can; not a depleted one as is the case by the time we get to school and work.”
The bad news is, even working as hard as Kristina is — offering choices, making it into a game, preparing the night before — is no guarantee that things will go smoothly. Those things help enormously, but sometimes the needs of kids and adults simply clash.
What does a four year old need in the morning? Well, everyone is different, but most of us need some time to make the transition from sleep into busy activity; most kids balk at feeling pushed. Most four year olds need to “do it myself.” Most four year olds want to make their own decision about when their body needs to pee. And I’ve never met a four year old who understands why that meeting Mom has to get to is more important than whether he can find his toy car.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if all parents could have flextime, so there’s more time in the morning for small humans to have a more humane start to their day? But that’s not possible for many families.