(from an email I sent on 2/16/23)
The house was filled with the smell of toast and coffee, the lunches were packed, and my son had his shoes on ready to go to school.
I was standing at the bottom of the stairs covering my ears with tears streaming down my face.
My daughter was in her room screaming and crying like a banshee ripping off her clothes. This was the third outfit I had tried to put her in. We were going to be late again…
This was the scene in our house almost every morning of my daughter’s kindergarten year. We could not get through one morning without screaming, tears, and worst of all being late to school. 😭
I knew there had to be a better way but I couldn’t seem to catch a break. Nothing worked: I set a timer, picked out the clothes the night before, bribed her with getting an ice cream after school…
The advice I was given by family members, well-meaning friends, or books written by experts with PHDs just didn’t seem to pan out.
All I wanted was for my kid to be happy. But the dream of a smiling kid felt impossible. 💔
One day I took the time to slow down. I let go of the pressure of getting to school on time. I listened. My daughter was telling me she wanted to stay in her pajamas.
“You want to wear your PJs to school?!” 😳
My first thought was, “This is crazy! What will her teacher think? Everyone at the school will think I am a terrible mother.”
I took a deep breath and said yes. She jumped out of bed and headed to the bathroom to brush her teeth. No tears!
I spent the whole day worrying what others might think about my choice to let her go to school in such “unacceptable” clothing.
At the end of the day she came out of the school smiling and chatting with friends. The kindergarten teacher smiled and waved at me. We made it. 😍
The next challenge was how to repeat this miracle of a day. We spent weeks trying to find the perfect comfy clothes. We experimented with the “just right” routine. We searched for easy breakfast foods.
I let go of micromanaging her clothing choices. Her creative personality began to shine. PJs with a skirt on top? Why not!
Some days we made it through the mornings ok. Other days were still hard.
The real breakthrough came when I started to track how my energy had an impact. On days when I was pushing or anxious, the tears were bigger and the conflict harder. Days I was able to focus on safety and connection and I let go of my need for a specific outcome, the morning seemed to flow with more ease and cooperation.
We have spent years building trust, creating connections, and slowing down to find our family flow. My daughter is now confident, independent, and empowered in her unique morning routine. 🎉
She is now 17 years old and completing her junior year of high school.
Today she walked out the door showered, dressed (no PJs), and on time for school. 🙌
Backpack ready, Larabar in one hand, can of Yerba Mate in the other, she stopped and smiled at me and said, “I’m really getting good at this!” ❤️
As I finish writing this, she came down stairs to tell me her plan for getting to school on time tomorrow. And guess what… she literally just told me she is thinking about wearing her PJs. 😂