The walk to school in the morning can be a bit of a nightmare. It isn't the distance (we live less than .10 of a mile from the elementary school). It isn't the weather (there's barely a nip in the autumn air). Exhaustion isn't the issue, either (my kids are early risers, and have already been up for an hour plus by the time we walk out the door). School isn't a struggle or a challenge for them. There's no real reason for the "I don't want to go to school!" and the dragging of the feet. But they say it and do it anyway. Every. Single. Day.
I don't want to insist on silence or start the morning out with a fight. Being the supermom that I am, I've had to start coming up with creative ways to keep my kids from whining and complaining on our walk to school. What strategies have worked the best to happier kids on the walk to school?
Every good parent employs the distraction technique from time to time. It works incredibly well with toddlers and preschoolers, but isn't quite as successful with older children. I still use it in the mornings when I want my kids to focus on something other than the fact that we're heading to school. What are we doing for the weekend? Is there a play date or a birthday party coming up? Keeping them talking about anything but school can help us occupy the time until we get there.
There's nothing that encourages my children to get moving on the way to school than me acting up. I'm singing songs, trying to give them hugs and kisses, and dancing. They're still young enough where it doesn't embarrass them (too much) in front of their friends, but old enough that they don't want to listen to or watch it. There's no time for complaining when mom's belting out the latest Taylor Swift song.
While some days it's best to lead the conversations away from school, others I need to do just the opposite. If it's library day, which my daughters love, mentioning it can get them psyched up for the day. If it's a P.E. day I'm better to keep my lips zipped.
In my family, school is non-negotiable. No amount of whining, complaining, or slowness is going to get the kids what they want-a lazy day at home. Sometimes my best course of action is to ignore their behavior, don't feed into it, and drop them at the door to school with a smile, a hug, and a kiss. They might not be smiling, but they're in there.
Do your children whine and complain about school? What have you done to ease the morning struggles and send happier kids out the door every morning?
Kelly Herdrich is a Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru. When she's not singing and dancing on the way to school, she's the mother of three, a freelance writer, blogger, and knitwear designer.