New week, new plan

By Mir
March 22, 2005

The thing about reaching the end of the rope is that then you have to find something else to hold onto.

I had gotten into the habit of treating my daughter like she’s a problem. She’s a problem, so I treat her as such. I treat her that way, she stops trying, she shows up in the dictionary next to the definition of “self-fulfilling prophecy.” Not good.

So I decided to take a leap of faith. Sunday night we discussed the New Regime.

1) Later bedtime. We’re not having enough family time, now that I’m back to work. But mornings have been so atrocious, I’ve been putting the kids to bed earlier and earlier on the assumption that they need more sleep. The solution? Later bedtime = more time to spend together. BUT. Screaming mornings = back to the old bedtime. It’s up to them.

2) Even later bedtime after a week. Half an hour later, to start. They get another half an hour if they show me this works. Same deal on mornings determining how late they get to stay up.

3) Immediate snack when we get home, while I get a few minutes to myself. Our evenings were suffering from two main problems: the kids were hungry and therefore cranky when we got home–and I felt it was too late for a snack, but I have not yet mastered snapping my fingers to make dinner voila! appear on the table at a moment’s notice–and I needed just a few minutes to look at the mail, listen to phone messages, etc. No more “you’ll ruin your dinner.” So what. They get a snack, the crankies are assuaged, and I get a little decompression window in return.

4) Dinner like civilized humans. We’re not going to get into how often I succumbed to “Okay, we’re all tired, you can eat in front of the TV.” Dinner at the table. The “best/worst part of my day” game. When I finish eating before them (I always finish before them), I can do dishes and tidy the kitchen but I must stay in there with them and give them my attention.

God, I love it when I’m brilliant.

1) They were thrilled. They were also angels this morning.

2) Interesting: this morning, Chickadee said she couldn’t wait for the new, full-hour-later bedtime. Tonight, as her eyelids drooped during our bedtime story, she noted that this was maybe late enough.

3) Despite a rather hearty snack when we walked in the door, both kids ate a pretty good dinner (for them, anyway… Monkey never eats). While they snacked, I sorted the mail, returned two phone calls, and took the trash out (which I have forgotten to do the last 2 trash days).

4) So dinner was a cozy affair. If I could’ve bottled the look on Chickadee’s face when I told her the best part of my day was that our morning was so much fun, I’d market it and retire. I love seeing my kid proud of herself.

Heck, I love seeing my kid, rather than a big bundle of emotions that flies around the house in a confused rage. I’m not naive enough to think that this is the ultimate turnaround and it’ll be smooth sailing from here, but I’ll take it.

It’s like seeing the crocuses poking up through the snow. It doesn’t mean winter is over, but it’s a promise that spring is coming.


  1. Betsy

    Woo hoo! You’ve learned the single working mother’s mantra: flexibility is the name of the game.

    But I suspect you knew that all along anyway…

  2. Thumper

    Hey, it took me 15 years to figure that all out…and by then the Boy was so self sufficient it didn’t matter… I tried to give him a curfew tonight, but he just rolled his eyes and walked out the door ;)

  3. Stephanie

    What a great post! Flexibility is so key in these overly-busy times. I find myself fighting unnecessary battles every day because of stubborness on my part! Best of luck with your new schedules! Enjoy the fruits of your open-mindedness.

  4. chris

    you ARE brilliant and how soon can you come to my house and pour oil on the waters for the romaniac? he’s another bundle of emotions flying around the house in a rage! good thinking, mir!
    blessings on you all!

  5. Zuska

    Sounds like a great plan! I doubt you remember, but that time you were at the conference and we had brunch? And you almost choked when I told you my kids went to bed an hour later than yours? This is why!!

    Here’s hoping it works like a charm.

  6. Zee

    YAY Mir, so glad to hear things are starting to improve AND that you’re getting to spend some more time with the kiddos! :) Will keep my fingers crossed for you that this plan continues to work…

  7. Suzanne

    it’s all about balancing the two isn’t it?

    I have a post on my blog regarding single mothers, having it all, and society’s role in the whole mess, that I would be interested in hearing your take on. It’s one of the few serious posts I have on my blog and not in typical Suzanna fashion, but what the heck. I was in the mood! Stop by if you have the time.

  8. ben

    Wow, that is great. I love to hear that it worked so well.

    May I share a note of caution? Don’t be surprised to see a little “backlash”. That’s the kids testing to see if you really mean it. That if they don’t get up in the morning they won’t get the later bedtime, etc. But that’s okay, it’s their job to experiment on adults and see what works and what doesn’t. It’s how they learn to eventually become great mom’s.

    And it never ends…

  9. dave

    You can call the pre-dinner snack an appetizer or Horse Dover, making it part of dinner.

    I end up doing that with Dizzle on nights that dinner is going to take longer to make – give her some cheese and crackers or fruit or something fairly healthy. I feel good that she’s eating, she thinks she’s getting a treat, and everyone is happy.

  10. jenni

    Just some assvice: I give my kids raisins or fruit with juice and that subsides them until dinner and doesn’t fill them to the rims.

  11. dad

    I love seeing my kid proud of herself too.

  12. WindyLou

    On the dinner front: There is a cookbook called Desperation Dinners. I can’t remember who the authors are, but it is great. Basically, they assert that if you keep certain basics stocked, you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes. They even provide the basic grocery list in the book. Also, the recipes I have tried? Pretty damn good.

  13. Amanda B.

    Those were some pretty genius ideas, my friend. I admire the hell out of you for what you do on a daily basis. You are a good Mom.

  14. cursingmama

    Go You! Looks like you’re on track for much more sanity & happiness. Once when I was working long hours I offered the pre-dinner snack in the car on the way home – worked wonders!

  15. carson

    I’ve never been a big “no snacking before dinner” person. As long as the snacks are healthy, who cares? Grazing is the more healthy way to eat, isn’t it? My daughter loves to pick out of the salad before dinner, but won’t eat it on the table. Who cares?

    Good thinking with the bedtimes. My hat is off to you.

  16. Mike

    To echo what some others have written, yes, you ARE brilliant…and one thing I’ve done for that awkward post-snack, dinner prep time is set out a plastic bowl of those little baby carrots. It’s the only time I can get the boys to chow down on something un-pop-tarty. As my Mom always said, “if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat anything!”

  17. Tracy

    i like the plan! maybe i should let my kids stay up later…. i never thought of that. we do the snack thing and dinner thing, for the most part.

    Keep us updated please!!

  18. lynn

    Assvice here: The only way I do the working mom thing and still eat semi-decent food at a semi-reasonable time is by making two or three big meals every weekend, and freezing part of them.

    It kind of sucks to spend a whole Saturday morning cooking, along with all the other errands (umm, buying the food) that have to get done too. But my head feels like exploding at 6 p.m. on a weekenight if I don’t have something pre-made that just needs to be shoved in the microwave and into their gaping maws. I deal better with the loss of a Saturday morning in exchange for weeknight sanity.

    As if you hadn’t already thought of that. You’re probably saner than me and know better than to waste a nice Saturday morning cooking!

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