“Hurry Up” must be two words I say to my kids a thousand times a day. In varying tones and volumes, this little (ok mostly large) demand I make of my kids pops out from the moment I get out of bed until they are in theirs. I feel like the blackboard from Mr Squiggle, although higher pitched, and a tiny bit more frantic. And even though it feels like a way of life for us, I really don’t like rushing. I’m not one of those people who are so organised they allow time for mishaps, I know exactly how long everything takes and don’t really plan for interruptions. Yes I’ve been a mum for a long time now and I should know better, but you can never foresee those times when every child is dragging their feet, fighting, or suddenly all three are blinded and can’t find a single item of clothing because they are still carrying on the argument of how the robot dies in the ninja cartoon. These kinds of antics can easily turn a 15 minute lunch-making into a 45 minute shout fest. Hurry up and get your shoes on!
I recently started another day back at work (the paid kind) and it has taken a bit of adjusting. A few too many mornings when the only option is getting yesterday’s school uniform out of the dirty clothes basket, and remembering ballet practice has been a stretch too! I felt like that mum who flaps between the classroom and the car with her shirt hanging out and papers flying in the air behind her. As a result of being more exhausted and not having enough time to myself I’m losing my cool more often than I’d like, and there is a repetitive theme. I have noticed, as I have supremely intuitive perception, that the kids don’t always listen to me. Shocking revelation I know. But at this stage when time is precious and scarce, repeating myself over and over again is just wasting time. So in an attempt to overcome this deafness I have been trying for the last week to change my approach on how I speak to the kids. I’m slowing down.
We seem to be trying to fit more and more into our lives, our houses and our heads, and I felt like that’s how I was speaking to the children too. So my solution has been to slow down, speak quieter and more calmly at all times when under time pressure. Well at the times you remember to is a good place to start. So the mornings (afternoons and evenings) will proceed as usual, but at the first sign that the ears around me aren’t working, instead of turning up the stereo, I change my voice. And as I’m using a softer voice it also often means I need to get closer to them too and the proximity really helps. The closeness coupled with a calm mummy and slow gentle talk has been very conducive to smoother mornings. Still just making it by the bell, but not flapping all the way and instead peacefully accepting that we will make it to the classroom regardless of the level of frantic behaviour.
It has been a successful experiment so far, but not in the direct effect that I was originally hoping for. Using a lower and slower voice has certainly helped, but because it allows me just a fraction more of a second to think about what I am saying, and that is time well spent. It doesn’t by itself automatically get the kids attention to my liking, but it is so much easier for them to hear me. I’m thinking instead of reacting. Slowing down has meant more thought into the words I choose, it has made me speak directly to my kids instead of shouting down the hallway, and delivering my messages in this way has most definitely had a positive effect on our behaviour. So try it. Slow down your demands of the kids, with any luck you will find the same ripple-on effect that I felt. That simply readjusting your time priorities in the way you communicate with the world can have such a powerful result, and an amazing feeling not using the dreaded hurry up on broken record. I’m not sure about making the morning last, but I am ‘feelin’ groovy’.
Emma Eastman 2015