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Yak-shaved to distraction

I got unjustifiably angry with the three-year-old yesterday morning and have some reflections.

The situation arose from the two of us following separate but equally unmovable agendas – I, getting out of the door in time, he, carefully selecting and placing a reward sticker onto his potty-training chart. It was on me to either make my agenda more movable or to negotiate the completion of the chart business some other time. (Instead I yelled – fail.)

From the parable of the two sons that both claimed a mother was theirs. The wise judge recommended splitting the mother in half and giving each son one half. They both said that sounded about right.

I felt like I was acting out some memory of my childhood while I was yelling at my son. My mother isn’t generally an angry parent but she did sometimes lose her temper, and I was almost role-playing those moments, using phrases that I know she would have used. Cal didn’t understand what I was saying because I was doing all of this in Finnish, but afterwards he said I sounded like my mother!

I need to nip this in the bud or otherwise, who knows, in thirty years’ time my son might be replaying my angry Finnish yelling with his children.

I also had a false sense of high stakes which made everything more stressful. It was not high stakes to get them out of the door at a particular moment, as I had time to spare (or could move things around to that effect).

The amount of yak-shaving activity in the morning is a good predictor of reaching a boiling point for me. For example, to get out, the boys need to have their clothes on, but that necessitates:

  1. Checking the weather.
  2. Finding about 4-5 separate items of clothing that can be in different locations, e.g. wardrobe, laundry basket and my rucksack, because I took the last pair of clean shorts to a kid’s birthday party the day before in case of accidents.
  3. Chasing him down. Both children think it’s hilarious to sprint away when someone says ‘Let’s clean / brush / change your face / teeth / attitude’…
  4. Undressing him (takes only two words but many more minutes than that).
  5. Changing his nappy – a major yak-shaving detour here is, if it’s the older boy, having him sit on the toilet as well and getting the sticker reward, then putting a new nappy on.
  6. Redressing him in the new clothes, upon which many more failure modes can get activated.

Unfortunately I can’t see easy ways to reduce the yak-shaving aspects.

I’m changing planners for the next quarter and onwards. I still love the Full Focus planners, but I was finding that, more often than not, I didn’t fill in the daily page. I don’t have a guaranteed time that I can use for that every morning, which I think is the main issue – some days it’s not until lunchtime, or later, that I could fill it in, which feels too late. I also keep forgetting what my weekly list was all about, as weekly reviews are separated from the daily pages.

The new planner is the Undated Weekly from Hemlock & Oak. My thinking is that I will for sure always find a time during the weekend to fill in a week’s spread. On a daily basis I can see that week’s goals / to-dos on the weekly spread which hopefully will have more of a in-sight, in-mind effect.

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