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The Checklist

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Sugar Bowl Mix: The Checklist

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Checklist

This summer getting out the door in the morning has been trying. More than trying, actually. Frustrating, unpleasant, downright awful. From spraying the sunscreen on, to packing the lunch and the separate snack to making sure the swimsuits, the towels and the backpack sunscreen are packed and the of course the water has to be cold - "I can't BELIEVE you forgot to put my water in the fridge last night, Mommy! Now I have to drink hot water!"  - it's seems amazing we make it out the door at all.

Last week we hit the wall. Half way to camp and Caroline begins shrieking from the back seat: "Where's my water!  I don't see my water!" The water was on the kitchen counter. After I was blamed for being the worst Mommy ever I realized we had to make a change. All of us. I couldn't keep cajoling, reminding, nagging and shouting to be heard in the morning.  Caroline had to take responsibility for herself.

Maybe it's selective memory but I don't remember terrible mornings growing up. Sure, there were a few times when I overslept or forgot my skates on skating day or ran out of time for breakfast. But those were the exception. What was so different? I was responsible for myself. From the time I was seven I was taking the subway to school by myself. My mother packed my lunch and that was it. I had to remember everything else and I had to make sure I was out the door in time to walk to the subway, ride the subway and then take the bus. If I left late I was the one who reaped the consequences. Granted, this was Toronto in the 1970s not Los Angeles but still, it gave me an idea.

The checklist was born. Caroline made it up, she wrote it and she checks it off every morning. If she forgets her water, it's all on her. If she forgets her swimsuit, it's all on her. And the amazing thing?  It works! And what's more she seems to take pride in it and enjoy it. An empowering tool.

Now Katherine wants her own checklist. Maybe I should make my own checklist!

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