Thanks to Crappy Pictures for this image.
One of the biggest shocks to me as a parent was just how getting out of the house suddenly turned into mission impossible. Speaking to other parents I know I’m not alone in this!
Our children just aren’t born for our busy, modern society. They like to take their time, and get deeply involved in play. It must come as a complete shock to them when we start hurrying them out of the door, and lecturing them about being ‘on time.’
I’d love to live in a world where my daughter could take her time, where I could just open the back door and she could run out and play with other children all day. Unfortunately our world is not that simple. Most of us out of necessity have to, at least some of the time, get our children out of the house. And we a have a time limit.
Luckily, Hand in Hand Parenting has some amazing tools to help us complete this challenge. Follow these steps to get your children out of the house. There are lots of playful tips here so if you use them all you might be in for a very long getting ready process! Incorporate them here and there whenever it seems necessary to add fun and connection into your daily routine.
1. Don’t underestimate the scale of this challenge! – It seems like the simplest thing in the world. Putting on clothes and shoes, opening the door and leaving the house – before having children. Afterwards life will never be the same again. Be easy on yourself, and forgive yourself for the times you’ve snapped and lost your patience. Children’s brain’s aren’t really wired to be rushed about from place to place. But because of our lifestyle’s it’s often a necessity. So, if it gets hard, don’t think of it as some sort of ‘failing’ in you as a parent. Caring for children and their emotional lives is one of the most challenging jobs in the world.
2. Instead, seek support. Get some listening time. When we have a parenting difficulty that recurs day after day we’ll often find that as time goes on more and more feelings build up inside of us. The first step towards change is to have somewhere to take these feelings. Having another adult who can listen as we talk, moan and express how we feel means that these feelings will come up less and less in our life. So have a laugh and a cry about how hard it is to get out of the house. Then notice how your perspective shifts after being listened to. When we clear out our mind of upset we can think more clearly and can often come up with playful and creative ways to deal with the situation.
3. Have lots of connection the day before – Connection helps our children to co-operate with us. If your child feels disconnected you can bet they will tell you about it by refusing to put on clothes, clean teeth etc. Any time we connect with our children it is an investment of time that will make things go more smoothly the next day. Do some Special Time the day before, and plan for regular roughhousing before bed. Bedtime is the ideal time to add in extra giggles to not only make your child sleep easier, but also give children the connection they need to co-operate the next day.
4. Have a bed party – While your child is sleeping, arrange every single fluffy toy they own on their bed. As your child slowly wakes, make up a silly song like ‘welcome to the bed party,’ and have the toys throw and catch balloons. Do silly thing that make your child laugh. Perhaps they start trying to lift your child’s pillow up instead of a balloon, or all the toys decide to leave the party by hiding under the pillow. This is the perfect alarm clock for our little ones. You can read more about this idea here.
5. Have a puppet or fluffy toy do the getting ready tasks – After hosting the bed party, have your child choose a toy to get them ready. Have the toy say silly things like, ”Now I’m going to take you to the pee-pee otorium,” and ”Welcome to the restaurant, now I’m going to show you the breakfast choices.” Everything goes a little more smoothly when a friendly toy is the one doing the talking instead of a nagging parent!
6. Have a getting ready song. We like Hit The Road Jack By Ray Charles. If you want to add in some playfulness, you could try pretending the song is making you put on your coat and shoes, but have the song get it all wrong, for example by making you pile ten jumpers on top of you, or put on your child’s shoes.
7. Beat The Clock. Hand in Hand instructor Marilupe De La Calle says, ”We pretend that the clock is an actual person who’s trying to beat us. I say, playfully: “Oh, no! the clock is already eating his breakfast”… and my girls rush to the table. Then I keep going…”He’s putting his shoes on!! quick, put yours on!”…”Oh, he is already in his car!!!”..My girls love to “get him.” We win if we get to our destination on time.
8. Beat The Song From Marilupe De La Calle. Another trick we use is to play a song on the music player and we try to get ready (get dressed, hair done, shoes on) before it’s over. My girls get to choose the song, and this is especially funny when they pick a silly one, like a Christmas song in March.
9. The Confusion Game Hand in Hand instructor Skye Munroe of Nurturing Connections says, ”I like to pretend to be confused about the process – things like “ok ok I know we need to get somewhere right now , I just can’t remember what to do … Hmm ok maybe I have to open this big silver thing ( fridge) and it will be able to help me ?”
My gems will then be giggling and saying things like “no no we have to put our shoes and coats on and go out the door” and then I may open a cupboard door or similar – just goofing around so that the kids help ME ( us) get out.”
10. Squeeze in some special time. Even five minute can make a difference as this story from Hand in Hand instructor trainee Isabela Budusan shows. Starting the day with special time can be really effective. If you start the day with a bed party, you’ll already have started the day with a dose of connection, so you might want to move onto doing all the getting ready tasks, and then have special time right before leaving the house.
11. Music Montage from Ariadne Brill of Positive Parenting Connection. One of our favourite ways to get ready without struggles is to do a music montage (just like those fun scenes in movie). We choose one or two favourite songs to get shoes, coats, bags in order and dance and get ready at the same time. When the song is over we meet by the door.
12 The checking game From Ariadne Brill. Something we did when my boys were 2 and 4 years old was an airplane pilot check list. “One shoe on? Check! Another shoe on? Check! Coats? Check! A toy to bring along? Check! Everyone ready? check! Everyone buckled? Check! the children loved this game, especially if we built in silly moments like jump three times to get to the door? Check!!” feel free to edit as you need!
13. Lets leave the house – Put on a playfully serious voice and tell your child it’s time to leave the house. Take them by the hand, and lead them to the door the bathroom, and say, ”oh whoops! That’s not the way out of the house.” Repeat with other doors for different rooms, or wardrobe doors, cupboards etc.
14. Pack a silly bag – Pack a silly bag the night before full of random objects. Start talking about how you need to take this bag for you and how you need to check the objects. Pull out a swimming costume although you’re going to the park, a winter hat and gloves in summer, or some rocks from the garden. Act all surprised and confused as your child laughs and laughs.
15. Make Time For Big Feelings – If your child has a big meltdown at any time during this process it’s counter-productive to try and distract them or stop the tears. There’s a lot of articles out there about how to stop a tantrum, but this is why I recommend going with the flow and allowing feelings. Even if we do end up being late, our child will be in much better emotional shape to enjoy their day when they’ve release those feelings.
I hope these tips help the getting ready process become a joy for you and your children. If you try them out I’d love to hear about how you get on. You can let me know in the comments section below. And if you come up with any fun and playful games of your own I’d love to hear from you too!
Want to learn more about using Special Time to build cooperation at your house? Our free video series starts here.
Kate Orson is a Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor, and mother to a 4-year-old daughter. Originally from the UK she now lives in Basel, Switzerland. She is the author of Tears Heal, How To Listen To Our Children, which will be published in 2016. Connect with Kate on Facebook or follow her blog Listening To Tears.