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By Jocie Ferron

So school has begun again. No more summer fun. And hooray for the return of a semi routine. Now, I am not usually a huge fan of the same routine day in, day out (my husband can attest to that) and I often drive different ways to and from work just to shake it up. But there is something nice about getting back into the school swing with its almost predictability for 10 months. 

A typical school morning in our house goes something like this: Get up cursing the alarm clock, then make coffee (while one parent walks the dog). Wake kids, firstly by being nice and sweet before the yelling and threats of throwing water on them begins. Drink coffee! Get ready while kids eat breakfast and make lunches. Then if time permits make beds (haha who I am kidding but I try). Next the arguing/panic over a variety of issues (lost socks/mittens/shoes/hats/lunch bags) which is followed by the often mad rush out the door to arrive at the bus stop just as the bus arrives. 

Last school year I was doing 12-hour shifts, so some weeks I was home every morning with nowhere to be, other weeks I was on nights leaving hubby to the morning madness, or I was rushing out the door to work. Now I am back on eight-hour shifts, which means many more early morning starts and more Monday to Fridays, which means more madness in the morning for me. Give me sanity… and lots of coffee! 

Speaking of crazy mornings, the other day I had a mom moment where I really stepped back and looked at myself and the way I sometimes react to things.  I realised I need to practice what I preach (thanks hubby!).  For context, let me paint you a picture of that morning: I had just come home from my second night shift and I walked in not feeling too tired, so thought I would hang out with the family instead of rushing to bed. The youngest was asking for mummy’s crepes, so I decided 'Sure why not, it's Sunday morning'.

So, there I was making crepes, music was going as is the usual and the kids were bickering while watching a nature documentary. I checked to make sure that the eldest kid was ready to go to a water park with a friend later that morning.  Having asked him the day before to get everything ready, I assumed this would be an easy question. So, I asked him again, "Are you ready to walk out the door?" He replies: "Oh, wait, oh, ummm, no Mom I don’t have a towel ready, or a water bottle, oh and nothing is put in a bag."  "OK," I said, "so go grab a towel and a bag." Reluctantly he dragged himself away from the TV and came back with the smallest backpack we have, which wouldn’t even fit the towel in it!  Goes back and comes back with the next size up, which fits the towel but nothing else! Third time a charm, right?  Sigh… 

By this time, my tiredness had kicked in, my grouchiness was above its maximum and the youngest, who was taking great glee in his big brother getting in trouble, was repeating everything I said in a mocking voice.  Cue big kid getting grouchier and grouchier, little kid giggling with great mirth at his own cleverness, and mum about to blow her top because really, I just want the big kid to use common sense, get the right bag and have everything done yesterday! So in a very uncharacteristic move I turned and yelled "Shut up!" to the little man.

Now, my kids have never heard me yell that, ever. We have a rule in the house, a "please be quiet" but never "shut up". The look on my little man’s face was priceless and I have never seen him close his mouth so fast. My husband just looked at me a little taken aback and I said in defence, "Well, if HE wasn’t being so annoying, I wouldn’t have had to shout at him like that."   

My husband starting laughing quietly to himself, then said to my indignant look, "What are you always telling me? Not to use the other person's behaviour as justification for your reaction? You just blamed him for you yelling at him!"

Wow! And he was right. A real step back and reassess moment. As I have "preached" to him, we always have a choice as to how we respond, even when the kids are driving us nuts, even when we are tired, angry, upset, or on our own after our significant other has flown off to work, again. How I as a parent respond to my kids in different situations is modelling behaviours to them. By blaming my little man, and making it about his behaviour and not my response, I tried to justify my very unreasonable reaction of yelling at him. I apologized, and not long after went to bed to sleep off the tiredness and grouchiness. 

So, to all parents with kids who've recently returned to school, enjoy the craziness and the year to come. Give your crazy, annoying yet amazingly wonderful unique kids an extra hug, because the years are going by quickly and before we know it they will be leaving… for university, for work, or just to travel the world! 

More articles from the joyful Jocie Ferron:

Australian nurse Jocie Ferron was volunteering in Mongolia when she met her French-Canadian husband, who was working in the mining industry. After a few years living in Australia they decided to settle in Canada with their two young children. They enjoyed a few years in a north Quebec mining town (where Jocie had daily adventures navigating life in French) and they've now settled in New Brunswick.