When trying to teach my kids organisational skills and how to plan ahead, I used chant:
“If you don’t leave all your homework till the end of the week, you’ll have time for a play date on Thursday after school.”
“If you tidy up your toys as you go, then you won’t have such a big mess to clean up at the end.”
“If you go to the loo before we leave home, we won’t have to find a public toilet while we’re out.”
Blah, blah, blah, blah… I would have been better off talking to our dog; at least he would have pretended he was listening.
It turns out, I could have saved my breath by inviting my mother to stay. You see, there are some things grandparents can achieve that parents can’t.
After leaving my daughters in the care of their grandmother for several days while I was out of town, I noticed huge changes in our home. When I went to kiss my sleeping children goodnight, they had changed out of their pyjamas and were lying fully clothed in fresh school uniforms ready for the day ahead. I tried to pull up the bed sheets to cover their little bodies but they were lying on top of their perfectly tucked in sheets, to save them from making their beds in the morning.
Some may say their organisational skills were over the top, but you should know that my mother has a track record of setting the table a week before she hosts a dinner party. Her own mother stuck coloured stickers on the underside of her furniture to mark it for her children’s inheritance decades before she died.
Like anything, time (or comfort) dissipates the best intentions, and my children have stopped sleeping on top of their sheets. They have also thankfully stopped going to bed in their school clothes, which means they no longer go to school looking like they’re wearing crushed paper bags that would make Issey Miyake proud.
This week, I caught myself saying to my daughter, “If you don’t leave all your homework till the end of the week, you’ll have time for a play date on Thursday after school.”
Minutes later, I said to my other daughter, “If you tidy up your toys as you go, then you won’t have such a big mess to clean up at the end.”
Blah, blah, blah.
It’s clearly time to invite my mother to stay again.