Alarmed & Dangerous!!

Our kitchen table ready for action…two timers and a clock along with the rose from my son.

With two new additional clocks in the kitchen and two timers, I am now officially alarmed and dangerous. Indeed, our place now has so many clocks and timers that it’s starting to look like an international airport.

Well you might ask why I’ve gone to such ridiculous extremes of time management. In fact, this is no longer time management. It’s time-control!

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s not that I’m about to embark on some amazing journey trekking across multiple time zones or anything that time-challenging. All I’m trying to do, is drive the kids to school but this term we’re going to be on time!

For some reason, the wheels fell off last term and this most basic of daily tasks eluded us. We were late almost every day and it was becoming quite evident, that we were in a time-zone all of our own. I’d make a few jokes with my friends and it was almost funny except the school keeps track of this sort of thing. Further up the food chain at the Education Department, there is some sort of scary inspector-type person who’ll soon come knocking on my door. I don’t know what sort of mystical powers this person might have but it can’t be good. No one wants to attract this type of attention. So you could say, it is time or even past time to sort ourselves out!

I know it’s going to take a revolution to get there and I am prepared…well almost.

You see, I’ve now realised that change isn’t just about setting goals. You need to work out how you are going to implement them. Then, you need to act or at least get started.

This is particularly challenging when you’re trying to overcome a weakness and I’ve come to understand that just adding my weaknesses to my to-do list simply isn’t enough. I need specialised strategies and tactics to succeed, even for such a seemingly simple task as getting the kids to school on time. I say seemingly simple because in our household getting out the door is difficult enough and being on time is major nervous breakdown material.

That’s where the weapons of mass destruction come in. It’s going to take some serious dynamite to get things to change around here. That’s because we have three people of mass distraction in our family and we’re all wandering off in different directions with different distractions.

To get the ball rolling, I’ve put a bomb under myself.

That’s what I’d call making this type of announcement on my blog with the entire World Wide Web as my witness. If I write it on the blog, I have to do it. It’s a credibility thing. I’m mean, how is that for accountability? Pretty good, I reckon! This could be just the right kind of dynamite I need to get moving. Go Ro! Go!

You could well ask what goes wrong every morning. You would also probably suggest that we just wake up 15 minutes earlier. But we already get up early. That’s not the problem.

You see, Geoff is up at 6.00 and the kids are up by 6.30 and I’m up at 6.45. We don’t need to leave for school until 8.55 AM so it’s not as though we are sleeping in. I actually suspect that we have too much time on our hands and that’s our problem…too much scope for veering off course.

Things start out pretty well every morning. Geoff gets the show on the road. He is quite focused and has a very definite routine. Our whole strategy each morning is to get as much done as possible before he leaves for work. Geoff generally gets breakfast underway before I stagger out of bed. We are now ensuring our son is dressed BEFORE breakfast. If he isn’t dressed before Geoff leaves, things get ugly. Add our daughter to the mix and I guess that’s how you get the phrase “double-trouble”. Moreover, heaven forbid I might actually need to get something done or need to get to work before midday.

The kids are usually pretty close to being dressed and fed when Geoff leaves so what goes so horribly wrong?

I’ve had the kids get undressed. I’ve had Miss arrive at school without her shoes on and they’ve each left their bag at home before. They’ve chased poor unsuspecting skinks and white cabbage butterflies. They’ve lost shoes and played on the computer. The list of distractions is endless.

Just to compound our lateness further, once we finally, eventually make it through the school gate, the kids aren’t allowed to run on the pebblecrete and so they have to walk late. They can’t literally run late. Rules are rules but it really goes against the grain. With that dreaded late note and the threat of the inspector looming, I want them to hurry up! Running on instinct, I forget all about the rules and in a scene reminiscent of Forest Gump, I call out: “Run!”

They, of course, each answer back: “I can’t. I’m not allowed to run on the pebbles!”

If only they’d stuck to the rules like that at home, we wouldn’t have been late in the first place!

Getting the kids to school on time is also much more difficult than anything I’ve ever faced in the workplace. I am managing two non-compliant sub-ordinates and I can’t just fire them when they refuse to cooperate. As much as all that Anthony Robbins motivational stuff is great if you actually get around to reading it, it’s quite a challenge trying to motivate someone who is so determined to work against you or is running their own race.

You could say that it’s my job to train them. However, I am actually concerned that I might have trained them a little too well! You see, I get rather distracted myself. It starts off with the blank, zombie stare out the window until my coffee kicks in. Then I have been known to write the occasional song or come up with a few ideas for my blog, which are hastily scrawling on scrap paper and filed for later. Sometimes, I must confess that I might have kept writing and writing and writing. It’s a bit of a bad habit but when you get into the flow, you can’t just turn it off. It doesn’t work like that. What if one of those ideas just happens to be the big one? Writing is like fishing. You’re always trying to catch the big one! The one which is going to transform you into some incredibly amazing literary genius! Unfortunately, many of these good ideas also get away like the fish! This writing game is not without its challenges!

That’s all well and good but flights of fancy aren’t going to get the kids to school on time. As much as I love my writing, I have to live in the real world too!

This is why I’ve become alarmed and dangerous. Setting goals is no longer enough. The bigger question is: how am I going to make this happen?

I can see some of my friends smiling already. They know just how incorrigible I am…a recidivist, repeat offender. They’re right but as I said desperate times call for desperate measures. As I acknowledged in a previous post, too often I’ve failed to do what I know I should be doing and it’s now time to stop shooting myself in the foot and to start making some changes.

The Time Timer

The first thing I did was order this really clever little timer called the Time Timer. It’s what you call a visual timer. It has a red section which shows how much time you have left. It claims to be very useful for showing kids, especially young kids who can’t tell the time, how much time they actually have left. See http://www.timetimer.com/

I have found this timer extremely useful myself. It’s helped me realise that time is finite, fixed and you can’t just squeeze more time into time. It’s not like trying to fit in that second serve of Christmas pudding and custard after you have thoroughly gorged yourself on Christmas Day. Time is fixed and completely inflexible. Once you’ve used up your time, you can’t get it back. Ask for a refund. It doesn’t work like that.

I have found the timer particularly useful for doing my violin practice. Initially, I just set it for the half an hour but then I was able to realise that my piece had three sections and I needed to break that down into 10 minutes each and then I need to play the piece as a whole though a couple of times as well. That meant, I actually need to practice for 40 minutes. I don’t think I would’ve broken the time down like that without that visual element I now get with the timer. It’s been very insightful.

The New Clock

Secondly, I bought a big railway-style analogue clock which is clearly mounted in the kitchen. This is as close to a flashing, neon sign as I could get without making the place look like some cheap rent by the hour motel. It is quite stark and easy to read at a glance with the numbers written on it and it has hour, minute and second hands. It’s all very straight-forward so I can track time easily and the kids can also learn to tell the time as well.

Previously, I had been largely dependent on the digital clock on the kitchen microwave for keeping track of time in the mornings. What I have discovered, however, is that digital clocks do not teach children the concept of time or the concept of time passing. This is much more obvious on your old fashioned clocks with the hands ticking away where you can see how long 15 minutes is. That becomes even more obvious with the visual timer.

You might think this is a pretty serious commitment to time management but wait! There’s more!

I’ve also bought a little analogue alarm clock to go on the kitchen table. We can refer to this while eating breakfast and doing homework. The beauty of this little alarm clock is that the light flashes on and off when the alarm goes off. I can set the alarm for five minutes before the kids are due to go to school and press the snooze button for that final reminder.

I am starting to look so good. I’m so organised, it hurts!

The clocks and alarm will keep track of time but we also needed a routine, a list to keep us on track. Actually, we already have one. We just need to use it. I have a list of all the kids’ tasks with a column for each day next to each task and they have to tick it off. This check-list ties in with their pocket money. They get $1.00 per day for doing all their jobs and we only doing it during the week so when they do everything, they get $5.00.

Goals for the kids…shame the laminating machine munched it.

Like getting to school on time, the morning routine seems pretty straight-forward but we derailed there as well. I had the routine glued into a book so it could move around the house as they did their jobs but then we’d lose the book. I also found it difficult to know quite how to handle non-compliance. How much pocket money should I deduct if they don’t make their beds or should that be something in time out? After awhile, the system that had been working quite well, stopped. It didn’t stop altogether but it’s been on life support for well over a year now, despite a couple of resuscitation attempts!

We need to get the routine back on track.

This time, I’ve decided to mount the chart on the kitchen cupboard. That’s where we keep our time out charts by the way.

This is all starting to come together well and even I am feeling cautiously optimistic.

At least, I was until someone mentioned that daylight savings starts today… the day before school goes back. I’m sure it’s a conspiracy!

Speaking of other challenges, the healthy eating plan kicks off on Monday again too. I’ve actually been doing fairly well on that front so no real huge changes required there. Despite being on 50 mg of prednisone for 3 months, my weight has stayed the same so I’m pretty stoked. I’m doing this more for my health than to lose weight. However, I have been advised to lose more weight to help with my breathing and digestion. I’m hoping to lose 3 kg before Christmas.

I go back to Tai Chi on Wednesday too.

My goodness, it’s looking like a big week and it all starts tomorrow!

Tomorrow, tomorrow, it’s only a day away!

PS: Tomorrow hasn’t even arrived and as usual catastrophe has struck or should I be positive and call it a “setback”? No, that’s such a euphemism. I’m just hoping it’s not a sign of what’s to come in the morning.

I was unpacking my summer clothes and just about to tackle my wardrobe when the screws holding the rail mounting burst from their seams and my entire wardrobe collapsed. This all happened at 8.30 PM. Can you believe it? Having to unpack my entire wardrobe the night before D-Day? The night before school goes back?!! I’ve spent most of the day packing up the kids’ winter gear and getting out the summer clothes and I just needed things to flow smoothly without any hiccups.

My mother says we were born under an unlucky star and I tell her she’s got it wrong but sometimes I have to wonder. Right now, I am feeling just a teeny weenie bit cursed!!

Make that a lot cursed! Now, I know that it’s not just me shooting myself in the foot anymore!

Just check out the scene of carnage…

The results of a serious wardrobe malfunction!

I am really starting to wonder whether Monday will ever come!

How We Went

Day one went exceptionally well and we were in the car ready to drive off at 8.30 AM. When we arrived at school, the place looked like it was just waking up…such a different landscape to the usual!

Mr arrived home quite excited saying he had been to breakfast club at school with his best friend and how he was the third child in  year 3 to arrive at school. He wants to leave at 8.25 AM tomorrow to be there first. This is such a complete turnaround from the kid I was dragging into the car at 9.00AM and did his best to make his sister for her school excursion. Miss was happy ticking off her checklist and is focused on the money. She wants her $1.00.

As for me, I was back home by 8.45 AM drinking my cup of tea. It was such a different scenario to last term.

By the way, we did have one hiccup. The time timer decided not to work. I tried everything such as changing the batteries and fiddling with the batteries and nothing helped. Geoff had it going tonight in minutes. I don’t think I quite had the battery in right. I’ve only had that timer for a week or so but I really missed it today. It makes it so much easier to keep track of time!!

2 thoughts on “Alarmed & Dangerous!!

  1. Sacha Black

    Glad it’s working. This was my favourite line:

    I am managing two non-compliant sub-ordinates and I can’t just fire them when they refuse to cooperate.

    That made me laugh out loud – that’s exactly how I feel about my son too!!!!!!! hahaha

  2. Rowena Post author

    Thanks, Sasha. We parents need to stand up for each other. Haven’t you noticed how everyone always blames the parents, especially the Mum?!! The solution to the child’s behaviour always seems to be more parenting courses. I say…shouldn’t the child be learning how to be a decent being? Should they be held accountable for their own behaviour instead of me? Apparently, not.
    I try to always stick up for the Mum. We need to stick together! xx Ro

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