Typically, my husband leaves for work long before the children are awake, so I am on my own getting our three boys up and dressed and out the door by 7:00 am; however, today, he stayed home sick. The morning went ridiculously smooth, and when we were all prepared to go, I looked at my watch and realized we were fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. And that is when I realized that my children are 1000% better behaved when their father is home.
And I have proof.
The following is a breakdown of a typical morning, when I am on my own, versus this morning, when the mere presence of my husband turned my children into perfectly behaved wonderkids:
Typical Day: Turn on lights and sound very much like Mary Poppins as I tell the children it is time to get up. Nobody moves. Sing each of the three children their own theme song, made up by yours truly. They roll over, cover their faces with the blanket and ask me to please stop singing. I tell them that they have to get up or I will be late for work. Eight-year-old gets up. Five milliseconds after waking, he tells me he is bored and asks me what he can do today. Frustration is starting to set in and I do not sound like Mary Poppins anymore as I beg the children to wake up. Finally, I promise them Slurpees after work. Six and three-year-old get up, walk to the couch, wrap up in a blanket, and lie back down, apparently feigning death.
Husband present: I turn on the lights and tell them to get up. All three of them simultaneously sit up and get out bed, asking if it is morning already. They don’t even know that their father is home, but they must somehow sense his presence.
Typical day: I hand the eight-year-old and six-year-old their clothes while I go searching for something for the three-year-old to wear. When I come back out of the room and they are still not dressed, I bark at them to get dressed, we are running late. The eight-year-old asks me where his clothes are. The clothes are sitting beside the eight-year-old. The six-year-old asks me if I can help him get dressed. I tell him I don’t know if I will have time, we are running late. He stays lying on the couch, making zero effort to help a momma out. The three-year-old insists on being “manly” and wearing no shirt. We argue for five minutes before I finally convince him that he can take his shirt off as soon as we get there, but he MUST wear a shirt in the car or the straps on his carseat will hurt his skin. The six and eight-year-old are still not dressed. This is usually around the time I start yelling and also when I give up and dress the six-year-old myself.
Husband present: I hand the big boys their clothes while my husband finds clothes for the three-year-old. Big boys dress themselves, three-year-old insists on being “manly,” I tell him he must wear a shirt. He says, “Okay.”
Using the potty:
Typical day: No problem here with the bigs. Three-year-old refuses. I remind him of the time he did not use the toilet before we left and then he had to pee really, really bad and he was crying because it hurt so much and then I finally convinced him to pee in his pull-up, which he eventually did, and then it got all over his clothes. He agrees that he remembers that unfortunate morning but still refuses to use the potty. I look at my watch, we are running really behind. I recall all of my mommy Jedi skills from raising three toddlers and remember that CHOICES work. I tell him he can stand in the bathtub to pee or pee in the potty. He opts for the bathtub. (As if there was ever any doubt which he would choose.)
Husband present: I ask the three-year-old if he peed. He says he did. I tell him that he did not. He goes into the bathroom and pees, presumably, in the toilet.
Preparing dinner for that evening:
Typical Day: I cannot find any of the spices I need to season the chicken taco meat. All three children come into the kitchen, stand on the chairs to talk to me. For some reason, they must always stand on furniture to engage in casual conversation. I shoo them out of the kitchen. If they discover that the “taco” meat is actually chicken, they will never eat dinner tonight! I beg them to go back into the living room five times before I finally give up. The eight-year-old asks why the taco meat looks like that and I make up a lie on the spot; yeah, I don’t know, it’s like some new kind of meat, but it’s STILL taco meat, I insist.
Husband present: All the spices I need are right at the front of the cabinet. Children come into the kitchen and I shoo them out. They return to the living room.
Typical day: I am frantic at this point. I keep looking at my watch. I need to leave by 7:00 am, it’s 6:55 am. I panic and throw the entire loaf of bread, packet of tuna, bottle of mayo, entire bag of grapes, and half-eaten bag of pretzels into my bag for lunch and throw in a banana and string cheese for breakfast. I scream at the kids to put their sandals on while I am pouring my coffee. The six-year-old cannot find his sandals. The six-year-old’s sandals are on the floor directly in front of the six-year-old. I beg the kids to get out to the car so we can leave. It is after 7:00 am by this point, and suddenly, the bored eight-year-old has an idea for what he can do today and it takes an additional five minutes for him to gather all of the components for his grand scheme. By 7:07 am we are finally walking out the door, but it takes an additional three minutes to get everyone buckled in because they ALL decide that they MUST enter the car through the same door, proceed to fight about who gets to go in first, before I finally threaten to NOT get them Slurpees after all.
Husband present: It has been such an awesome morning already, I think I will just go out to lunch! Everyone mysteriously has their sandals on without me so much as breathing a word and they walk out to the car while I am pouring my coffee. The big boys are already buckled by the time I get outside and the three-year-old climbs into his seat and smiles at me like the angel that he is.