Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting Multiple Kids Ready For School in the Morning

If any of you homeschool, or don't have kids, or don't have kids in school yet, you may not know what it looks like in a house with young school-age children on a school morning. I can't tell you how it is for everyone, but I can certainly give you a glimpse into our home. This morning was a particularly perfect example of why it is stressful every single day. Every day is different, because Cody goes to school every day but Jamie only goes every second day. Micah also goes on the days Jamie goes, but he goes at lunch time, so that's another complication.

Today they all have school, for the last time this year, thank goodness. Here's how it went, and how it goes most of the time. First of all, let me say that we put our kids to bed between 7:30-8:00 p.m. Cody is 7 1/2, so we sometimes let him stay up until 8 p.m. or just after. Cody has always been an excellent sleeper, but lately things have been less than ideal. There is a distinct possibility that his bedtime needs to be later, but bear with me and I will tell you my dilemma about going that route. In recent weeks, Cody is awake past 9 p.m. almost every night. Perhaps some parents would take that as a sign that we are putting him to bed too early, but he is still getting up way before 7 p.m. every morning, and sometimes before 6 a.m. If we put him to bed at 9 p.m., he will stay awake even later, and I am 99% certain he would still be up with the birds. (Before the birds?)

Last night was no exception. Cody stayed up late, though he was very sweet so it wasn't too upsetting. But in the morning, they were up early as usual. Today it was Cody and Micah who were up. I don't know when they got out of bed, but it was 6:40 when they woke me up with a fight. Cody was taunting Micah and calling him a baby, which elicited screams and cries of protest, and of course, loud tattling. Jamie was still sleeping, and the poor boy never gets enough sleep because he shares a room with both of his brothers. Lauren was also sleeping, and I was up twice with her between 3-4 a.m. (I look a little like Beetlejuice this morning. Very pretty.)

(This is Beetlejuice, for any of you who don't know who I'm talking about. See? Pretty.)

I had to drag my body out of bed before I was ready and whisper yell at the kids to stop fighting and be quiet. It was completely ineffective, as usual. I went back to bed for a grand total of ten minutes before my alarm went off. I shut it off with a finality that was quite satisfying. I won't have to turn it back on for over two weeks, and even though it's ridiculous, because you know they will still wake me up at the same time every day, I still feel tremendous relief knowing I will have at least a tiny bit of freedom to ignore them in the morning. Until they wake Lauren up. Then I will have to get out of bed. Sigh.

At 7 a.m. I got Jamie and Cody to the table and got them their breakfast. It is the same every day. Jamie has oatmeal, the "juicier" the better. (He likes it really runny. He calls it "doocie", but don't worry, he doesn't need speech therapy. It's a term of endearment.) Cody has mini-wheats. We used to call those "beetle-wheats", because that's how Micah pronounced it, but sadly that term has died out. I am thinking of resurrecting it. Every day, Jamie cleans his bowl right out and clears his dishes. Every day, Cody pours way too much cereal and way too much milk in his bowl and wastes a ton of it. And doesn't clear his dishes. Usually that tells me he stole a bowl of ice cream or some other forbidden treat before I got up in the morning. Today he insisted, loudly, that he didn't steal anything. Whatever. He ate almost nothing and insisted he was full. I got him some clothes and told him to get dressed. Jamie was also getting dressed. Before he had a stitch of clothing on, Cody suddenly got violently hungry and made us all aware of it. He threw a fit about how hungry he was and how he wanted a granola bar. I told him no, he could eat his mini-wheats if he was hungry. A small battle ensued. I just love battles in the morning when Lauren is sleeping. Mike was also sleeping, so the noise was doubly effective. 

To get kids dressed on time for school, it is essential that you act like a complete crazy person. (See photo above.) You have to say, "Hurry! You're going to miss the bus! I'm not driving you! You will miss your Christmas party!" (or whatever is happening that day), at least eight thousand times. You have to do this in the tone of a yell, but at the decibel level of a whisper, if you're lucky enough to have another child or family member who is sleeping...particularly if their waking up will make more work for you. 

Once the boys were finally in their clothes, I had to intensify my prodding to get them in their winter clothes. We are in Manitoba, for those who don't know, and we are also in the middle of a deep freeze. Going to the bus is a complicated affair. Ski pants, parkas, toques (winter hats), scarves, mitts, and winter boots must be worn. It takes a while for a 5 year old and a 7 year old to put all that on. So I wave my arms a lot and issue a lot of threats. Once they are dressed, I get my stuff on and we fly out the door. 

Maybe I should mention that at some point during this process, our dog Radar starts to act like he is having a complete mental breakdown. When we are at the door, he knows we are going outside, so he begins whining loudly and spinning in circles. Radar probably weighs close to 90 pounds, so this is not a graceful process. It is loud and ridiculous, and it infuriates me every day. The worst part is, I can't put him outside or he immediately begins barking as loudly as he can. He pretends there is a whole herd of deer on the lawn, or perhaps a coyote right on the deck, but in truth it's just a ploy to get us to let him back into the house because he hates the cold too. Wimp. Radar also hate his leash, but I hate going to the bus with him loose because he just runs away from me and leaves me in the dark to fend for myself. So I put the leash on before we go outside. That triggers a complete psychotic break, sometimes for both of us. Today I said no to the dog. I left him in the house.

If we don't leave the house at exactly 7:25 a.m., we will not make it to the bus on time. (It arrives at 7:30.) If you follow this blog or know me, you know we live in the country, and we have a long driveway. Not a mile long or anything, just long. We can't just step out the door and walk right onto the bus. As I mentioned yesterday, it's a good five minute walk, especially in the snow, and it is also done in the dark at this time of year. Today, when we were all ready to leave the house, it was already 7:27 a.m. Or was it 7:28? I can't remember now. All I know is that I knew we would never make it to the bus on time if we walked. So I decided we'd drive. I hate doing it, but today it was necessary. I got the boys in the van and started it. Painfully. We started to back up, which was really fun because the windows were frosty and it was pitch black outside. I couldn't see a thing. Then I looked in front of me instead to make sure I was going in a straight line. That was when I saw that I was still plugged in. I put it in park and ran out to unplug it. 

Then things got really fun. The plug was frozen, so I had to really fight with it. At that point, Cody started to panic and was screaming "We're not going to make it! It's 7:30!" ...etc. Seriously, he was having a complete meltdown, like we were all about to die. I had to yell at him to stop it, which likely scared away all the wildlife that had until then been secretly stalking me from the bush. I got the van unplugged and ran back to my door and got in. Then I tried to put it in reverse again and nothing happened. What the heck?? I tried with all my might and could not jam it out of park. I was seriously stressed by that point, and it was especially fun to have Cody almost in tears, still panicking in a very verbal way. I had to turn the van off and start it again, which is really great for it in these ridiculous temperatures. (Right now it is -31 C with the windchill, which is -23.8 F, for those of you in the States. I'm sure it was colder then.) Restarting my van didn't work. Maybe I have been spending too much time on my laptop. In the end, I forced it into gear somewhat violently, praying I was not about to break the van beyond repair. Then I did the blind back up, including a turn so I could face forwards. Of course the bus was there by then, waiting. I could see the lights flashing through the trees. Fortunately, she could also see our van lights, so she waited. 

We made it, albeit a couple of minutes late. Then I drove back and parked by the house again, and got out to plug the van back in so it would be ready to go out at lunch time when I will drop Micah off at school for the afternoon. Only I was parked on top of the cord. These are the kinds of days I really want to go back to bed. I had to start the van a third time and move it forward so I would get off the cord and plug it back in. 

This is a typical morning in this house, except normally I would have been making two lunches (or one, depending on the day) at the same time. Sometimes things are more complicated, like when Lauren does get woken up before I leave for the bus. Then I have to decide whether to ignore her so I can deal with the boys, or whether to be nice to her and completely blow everything else. 

I guess you could say we ended the 2013 school year with a bang, at least as far as the morning went. It could have been worse. We could have missed the bus. I could have broken the van. Somebody could have barfed. Yes, today was a success. So far, anyway. And now Lauren is up, and somewhat ready to face her day. Today will be our last afternoon with just a sleeping baby at home. Then, bring on the chaos! And hopefully the fun. I will try to be more consistent with my posts. Happy Friday, everyone.


Allison said...

After only 3 days of getting kids ready to go outside to play (not even ready for school) you have my utmost empathy and sympathy. It takes FOREVER!!! Edomiyas thinks it is quite ridiculous to have to put so many clothes on to go outside :-) Boots are a mystery to get on and mitts continually fall off. Hope you all start feeling better soon!!!

CAT said...

That's too funny, Allison. I have been thinking of you all and praying for you, and I have thought many times about all the adjustments they will make here but I forgot about our horrible weather! Haha. Have they seen snow before?

Allison said...

They had never seen snow before but they LOVE the snow. They love throwing themselves in, Daddy throwing them in, burying us, snowshoeing, tobogganing, taking Jasper for walks. They just love being outside, which makes this weather not so nice in many ways. I was laughing at your alarm clock issues. I just told Kelly at 6am this morning that we will never need an alarm clock ever again! Our two are up between 6 and 6:30 pretty consistently. So far though they are going to bed well around 7-8pm. We'll see how long the honeymoon period lasts :-) Thanks for your prayers!