It’s Wednesday morning and we are running ten minutes late as we hop in the car to head to school. Monday and Tuesday were a whirlwind of practices and games and homework. The week before was Thanksgiving, and our lives were unstructured at best.
As we slam the car doors, I’m angry. I’ve been angry all week.
I told my 12-year-old daughter to gather her cheer bag and organize it. I told her three times. At the end of the day, “put the uniform in the wash, and make sure your bow and shoes are in the bag” had resulted in a uniform on the floor in front of the washing machine, a bow on top the bag, and shoes on the shoe rack four feet from the bag.
There’s laundry to be put away. My ten-year-old son forgot to pack his lunch the night before, and then, once packed hastily in the morning, had left it on the countertop.
I want to yell. I want to show my frustration with words like “this is unacceptable” and “you are irresponsible.”
However, I know my anger should be directed as much at myself as my children. I am the boss. I am the leader of this team. If the team fails, I have played a role in our failure, too.
What I do next shapes the next several days of our lives. I hope it reverberates in the week’s ahead.
I calmly say, as we pull out of our driveway, “I think we need a reset tonight.”
I do not say, “You know what? You guys can’t seem to get your lives together, so no iPads or TV.”
I say instead, “I think we all need an evening to get it together. Let’s put aside our electronics and screens and do some things to make our lives easier. Let’s plan and organize tonight so that tomorrow morning is a nicer experience.”
The kids ask, “Mom, can we use our iPads to listen to music while we do it?”
On the commute, we talk about what we will do when we get home. We’re going to go through our closets and take out what doesn’t fit. Go through our drawers and donate toys and items we don’t use. Fold up and put away all the laundry. Finish our homework and pack the lunches and shower and lay out clothes for tomorrow.
We aren’t in trouble. We are just part of a team that needs to practice running some plays more smoothly. We will feel great when everything is done and we’ve succeeded in making our lives easier.
At pick up, my son crawls into the car first. “Mom, I’ve been thinking about it and I’m not even mad about not playing on my iPad today.” I take this as a win. My daughter enters the car and we start to talk about the schedule as we drive home.
“Can we have some time to play before we start everything?”
Sure thing. How about an hour? Again, no one is in trouble. No one is mad. We are just working on how to solve this issue as a unit.
Work time doesn’t go perfectly. There’s a meltdown when laundry is taking longer than hoped. There’s fretting about what to part with from our closets. There are breaks and negotiations. But there is progress.
By bedtime, everything is done. We even squeezed in baking brownies, just for fun. Everyone feels awesome. I think I am Suzy Homemaker. My daughter says, “I feel like I should get up early tomorrow and go for a run. Do you want to come, Mom?” My son decides to set his alarm early, too, so he can have time to eat a bigger breakfast.
Thursday morning, my daughter wakes me at 6:30 a.m. This in contrast to me usually entering their rooms demanding “feet on the ground” at 7:00 a.m. She and I put in a quick mile in the brisk, fresh air. My son is up with a big bowl of Cheerios and a good attitude. He’s fed the cats.
We leave three minutes early for school. Everyone is calm and happy.
We talk on the way about how great it is to be prepared. How much less stress our mornings have when we’ve put in the effort the night before. What a great team we are.
We talk about how there really aren’t any chores for tonight, because we are on top of everything. How important that planning was since tonight there are two games and travel across town.
#ResetWednesday led to some much needed family harmony. I’m all for that, however it gets done.
I want to repeat this every Wednesday, and I hope you try it, too.
Here’s a couple tips to making it work.
– This is not a punishment. Talk about it in positive terms. Talk about it as a family activity and a collaboration that makes life easier.
– Remove electronics, but do what works for your family. We are a music loving bunch. Listening to music helps rather than hurts our productivity. So I’m not making a huge deal out of the fact that it comes from an electronic device.
– Set achievable goals. My kids got through a lot, but that’s because we are already pretty organized. Room cleaning and laundry and homework and brownie baking might not be achievable for your first Reset Wednesday. And that is okay.
– Accept your role. Guess what, parents? If the kids aren’t doing what you want them to do, it’s on you, too. Educate them on how a family functions, the fact that everyone must pull their weight. That also means us.
– Reflect on your success. Ask your kids to think about how different they feel when they aren’t rushing and behind. Take a second to reflect on the fact that yep, it was work, but man was it worth it.
Let’s make #ResetWednesday a household term. Let’s take a midweek pause to simplify and declutter our lives. Join me.
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