The Balance Unicorn

Hello Friends,

Allow me to share a glimpse into our morning routine. This is another event where I resort to a fixed schedule in order to get something done. Specifically, get the girls to brush their teeth to finish getting ready for school and get out the door on time. They get a turn brushing, then comes mine:

“Open your mouth”-brush inside. (spit)

“Close your teeth”-brush outside. (spit)

“Stick out your tongue”-brush tongue. (spit)

Rinse.

Dr. Johnny told us to brush for two minutes, twice a day. So, repeat this each morning after breakfast and each evening before bed. That’s fourteen times a week, for the past three years, and always with the same script.

Why then am I writing about the brushing of teeth like it’s some monumental accomplishment? This is an exercise that should be easy for us, take us four to five minutes, twice a day. Most times, though, it is a much longer ordeal. The girls will often fall off script, Cricket in particular. With her it feels like every other day I remind her of the brushing order. So I got to thinking, “Why is that?” I mean, all the books say that kids need routine, that they respond well to routine, they like routine. And the only answer I can come up with is, “Sometimes, particularly with children, that’s just how it goes.”

And there it is; that’s why I’m writing about our tooth brushing routine. Because it is my routine, not the girls’, so sometimes they don’t follow it (nor seem compelled to). Regardless of how long we have practiced these steps, we stray from the plan. Or rather, they stray. And sometimes that’s just how it goes.

Some days it is the tooth brushing routine; sometimes it is when we leave for school; other days it is the classroom routine at school; still others it is with toilet use. They aren’t acting on a choice, exercising their agency, pushing back, acting out or anything like that. They’re just doing, and it happens to be in a different direction than I’m doing. So lately I’ve been quietly reminding myself that sometimes, that’s just how it goes.

Admittedly, sometimes I tell that voice (still quietly) to go to hell. Those are the days when patience is not high on my list. Days when we’ve squandered our morning and have to sprint out the door, or when I think a four-year-old should use the toilet every time. These are days when my expectations might exceed our reality.

This brings up more questions, namely, “Where are you going with this, man?” And that answer is “balance.” I think the key here is to find a balance with your little ones. As much as I would love to control every move, every minute, that’s not a reality. But I also think it is unrealistic to resign yourself to chaos and let your kids follow every whim. So, balance. You know, like Mary Poppins making a game out of cleaning up the nursery. Yeah, balance. Man, this feels like I’m sitting back in Parenting 101.

I know this post wanders around a bit, friends, so thanks for sticking through to the end. I was recently reminded that children need room to be children, or else they seek out another outlet. I guess that means sometimes wiggling at the dinner table, making a mess of a room, being loud in general, etc.. Clearly, I’m still chomping on that comment, but wandering around this post has helped me to process.

I can’t help feeling like I am searching for a unicorn, though. I mean, there are entire sections of the bookstore dedicated to finding balance in your life. And then add your kids’ lives? Whew! Anyway, thanks again for reading my ramblings, I wish you all the best in finding your own balance.

I hope you are having a great day, we’ll see you out there!

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2 thoughts on “The Balance Unicorn

  1. Excellent perspective. For what its,worth, this doesn’t change much into the tween years. So I will keep asking, “whose routine is it?” and, “can I just leave some room for … (ie: sleeping a little longer)?” Either way patience is the key. Losing my mind and yelling “why cant you just . . .” definitely does not work. They don’t know why, just being a tween.

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