Life is full, and that’s a better option than life being empty. But sometimes a full life falls under the category of, be careful what you pray for because you just might get it.
In the Bower family, mornings can be chaos central. The alarm goes off but nobody gets out of bed. Mom drags herself up, rousts the two kids, and heads for the kitchen to find the cereal box. Dad grumbles as he gets into the shower. Mom hears her middle school daughter scream, “Mooooom! I can’t find the blouse I want to wear today.” Her high school son wanders sleepily into the kitchen wearing the same clothes he slept in last night. She starts to tell him to go change into clean clothes. Then remembers that she was too tired to do laundry last night. Her daughter screams again, startling her. She drops the box of cereal onto the floor and cereal scatters everywhere. Chaos central? Yep. Can this scene be avoided in your house? By all means. Three steps can get you on your way to a more cooperative, less chaotic morning routine. Join forces by using a family meeting to Prepare, Instruct, and Reward.
Prepare by planning ahead. Anything that can be done the night before, should be. That includes showers, children putting out their clothes to wear the next day, homework, strategically locating bookbags and electronics, getting the load of clothes done, and reviewing breakfast plans.
Next, instruct each family member on their role and responsibilities. Nobody gets off the hook, especially Dad if both parents work outside the home. Be detailed. Write down each person’s expectations and give a copy to each family member.
Finally, reward jobs well done. When you see the plan working, make a big deal out of it. It’s true that the carrot works better than the stick. Where there are issues, use your active listening to understand the frustrations and to encourage cooperation. Schedule a follow-up family meeting to re-tool the system and plan a family reward for the weekend after a successful week.
Because each of us has so much to do each and every day, your home can be chaos central at times. If you prepare, instruct, and reward the troops through family meetings and with active listening, with consistency over time, it doesn’t have to be.