One of the best parenting tools is Love and Logic. I wish I'd read their book or taken their class sooner. Today's story is based on the training and ideas found here. It makes parenting so much more fun when you use love, logic and sound reasoning to let kids learn hard lessons.
On day 4 of Kindergarten this year, Amber decided it would be more fun to stay home. She wanted to snuggle with me and read stories, she wanted to play in her room and have time to make mini books and do whatever she wants. As the realization hit me that the honeymoon was over, I made an important decision. We couldn't fight this battle every day this year. It had been a really LONG six months of spring break, and she had gotten out of the routine of going to school. I need her to be at school. I don't even care how much she learns, but she needs to interact with peers her own age and be with a teacher who isn't me. It's a beautiful thing.
So Day 4 rolls around and she says, "I don't want to go to school today."
Me: "Well, your job is to go somewhere for five hours. That's how long Kindergarten is at Sonshine Kids. Would you rather go to Bridlewood and be gone for almost EIGHT hours?"
A: That's a lot of hours.
Me: Yes, it is.
A: No, I don't want to go there. Can't I stay home and go for a walk with you and S?
Me: No, she has physical therapy today so we're not going on a walk. Do you think you can find a babysitter, somebody who will take care of you today?
A: What if I go to B's house and play with baby Melody?
Me: That's a great idea. Why don't you call her and ask? (So I text my friend B really fast with these instructions: Just say No.) So A gets on the phone with B and asks very sweetly if she can come over and play with sweet baby Melody. My friend nails it, and is kind and loving and says, "No, today won't work. But I'd love to have you come over another time."
At this point I was thinking I'd won the battle. Then A chimes in, "What if I go over to play with A and her dog Fufu?
Me: That's a great idea, let's call her and ask. (So I text my friend A really fast and tell her to just say NO.) So my daughter gets on the phone with my awesome neighbor A and asks if she can come play with Fufu. My neighbor nails it and says, "No, Fufu needs a bath and she can't play today. Maybe you can come over later..."
So then we have a moment of silence where my daughter just sits there thinking, and I remembered all my Love and Logic training to keep my mouth shut. And she finally says, "I guess I'll go to Kindergarten today." So we leave the house and arrive at her school 22 minutes late. We'd missed the temperature check in the car line dropoff, and we had to ring the front doorbell. The teacher greets us and I say, "Can I tell you about our morning?" And she listens really well and validates everything that just happened and says to my daughter, "I'm really glad you chose to come to school today."
By the time five hours had passed I'd already done 27 other things and almost forgotten about the whole shenanigan. I pick up my sweet girl after Kindergarten and the first words out of her mouth: "Can we go visit baby Melody right now?"
I'm pleased to report that we've been on time every day since. There was a minute of hesitation on Day 5 but she quickly remembered all the work she'd done the day before, trying to get a babysitter for herself. I'm also happy to report that once I turned over the "getting ready" process to my daughter, she accelerated her pace and she can finally complete all nine before school jobs: put away pajamas, put on big girl clothes, brush teeth, go potty, make your lunch, fill water bottle, eat breakfast, brush hair, put on shoes and socks. She usually chooses to brush her hair in the car which is fine with me. And sometimes she skips brushing her teeth, which I figure we might pay for later in dental bills, but hey. Look at how much progress we've made.
So in a nutshell: use Love and Logic. It works, it makes parenting so much more fun. I'm having more fun as a mom now than ever before, because I have so many children making so many choices all the time. I want to give them as much power as possible. I trust them to take care of themselves as much as possible. The whole point is to work myself out of a job. One final note here: I want to express gratitude for my husband. He works his tail off so that I can stay home full time. That is a big deal, and I realize that I am seriously lucky.
If you can't take a class, then find a book about Love and Logic ideas. Something like this. Ask your friends about their hard experiences with kids. Ask them for help in raising your kids. Moms need backup, and that community with neighbors and friends can help you SO MUCH. I promise that parenting gets more fun as you go. I'm so glad I found Love and Logic. It has made discipline so much less painful.