The last door has slammed. Bickering children, hormonal girls and tears of frustration have piled in Daddy’s truck and are off to school. Our house now lays strangely silent.

Weekday mornings at our house are hectic. There are four young people with four distinctly different personalities all clamoring to get out the door in unison.imageimage

There is Slow Man. He operates at one speed: snail pace. Slow Man does not worry about making himself or others tardy for school. He’s definitely not a morning person and isn’t interested in eating breakfast before 10:00 am. Slow Man causes everyone around him to feel frustrated and angry.image

Then there’s the one who arises before the entire family, eats, gets dressed and is ready for school before the rest of us set foot downstairs. Fantastic. However, Early Riser will then linger about, watching everyone else stumble through their morning obstacle course — taunting and making unnecessary comments to her siblings. Usually the taunting ends with a giant outpouring of hormonal tears and shrieking. Doors slam. The house trembles.

I’m certain our neighbors think we all crazy. Later, when I see the smiling next door neighbor at the mailbox, I’ll wonder what was overheard and quickly avert my eyes with shame.

Don’t forget about Instigator. Instigator is well known across the land for striking up arguments. She stirs the pot knowing full well that she is brewing problems. Instigator has a knack for getting people fired up. Once they’re fired up, and they flip out, she enjoys playing the role of victim. She even finds humor in getting a sibling or three angry enough that they lose their temper and their minds.image

Last but not least, is Baby Bear. Baby Bear doesn’t usually cause problems. He’s the youngest and just content being along for the ride. He’s our one and only mellow child. His biggest fault is not being able to do many things on his own yet. During the morning flurry Baby Bear often gets lost in the shuffle. Sometimes he’ll take matters into his own hands for attention and to increase his standing in the unsanctioned Bottiaux kid ranking. He’s been known to strip naked and chase shrieking sisters and their friends around the house in order to put himself on the family map.image

In an effort to streamline our morning frenzy, we’ve tried a few things lately. Getting Slow Man’s outfit ready the night before seems to help him through his sluggish morning haze. Setting the timer helps put a jump in his step. He’s always up for a race; even if it’s against the clock.

Clear guidelines are necessary for the others before the drama begins. They need to know that starting fights will insure that their free time is filled with extra chores and revoked privileges.

Showing a little interest might be what’s needed. Maybe they’re acting out because they are worried about something happening at school. At my older daughter’s age, there are a lot of issues with friends. One day she’s in friend land and everyone is getting along beautifully. The next day, they’re enemies and she’s avoiding them at all costs. Taking a minute to draw out of each child what could be causing anxiety might lead to a more subdued morning.

Lunches. Oh how I dislike packing them. Nighttime assembly would be ideal. I know this. But, I’m exhausted and sick of cleaning up other people’s messes by the day’s end. So, project lunch box is handled in the morning.

Up until a few months ago we were cereal people. Easy. Suddenly I became a short order cook with bossy customers. One kid can’t live without his framed egg. Another needs an acai bowl with all the fixings. Porridge and protein shakes are on the morning menu too. The oldest can help with eggs and porridge. But, the high powered blender business is an adult matter.

One day, when they’re all grown, mornings won’t be so rushed, stressful or chaotic. In the meantime, I will try to find joy in providing them with healthy meals and a loving home.image