I’ve always been a fan of research. I love parenting books, for their new perspectives, for their broader outlook…. for those moments when my mothering spirit is totally depleted and I need a new approach.

I’ve also been a fan of sharing my parenting advice…er… experience.

To any who have bothered to listen, I formally retract all advice. I have seen the light. I know now what all seasoned parents already understood when they smiled indulgently at my latest parenting observation. I now know what my friends with more laid back dispositions grasped the very first day they held their infant close.

Each child is so very different. Everything I thought I did so right with Big Sis, doesn’t work in the least with Little Miss. They are motivated by different things. They respond differently to reprimands. They negotiate in entirely different ways.

They are both tender-hearted, loving, creative little beings, but even those traits are astonishingly unique.

December was a tough run for Elliot. Getting to school was a series of battles, all of which I lost.

One tantrum lasted an hour and a half. She’s six. I didn’t know six-year-olds could do that.

Christmas vacation was a gift to us both. My girl didn’t get dressed for two weeks, except for a small portion of Christmas Day evening. She slept in. She pitched in with the few chores we assigned her. We laughed a lot, hugged often, and didn’t battle once.

I dreaded her first day back at school on Friday. I kept preparing her with little reminders. I created a checklist for her morning, so she knew what had to get done. I reminded her of the big Disney World vacation in her future…. hint, hint.

Thursday night, while we finished our last chapters of The Boxcar Children, she jumped out of bed.

“Mom, can I get dressed?” She asked me. “If I wake up in my clothes, I’ll for sure be a good girl and get on the bus.”

Ouch! Had I told her she wasn’t a good girl? There were some ugly moments in December.

Thursday night, of course, I told her yes. Her clothes are all t-shirts and leggings, so they aren’t far from pajamas anyway. I wondered a little when she pulled on a skirt too, but she seemed happy.

The next morning, she marched downstairs with her morning checklist, rattling off all she had done. Dressed, brushed teeth, potty, brush hair.“I just haft to eat breakfast mom, and I’m ready for the bus!”

She must have high five-d me 20 times. She was so joyful, so full of smiles.

What a better way to start the day than battle after battle over getting dressed.

I’ve learned though. This one trick worked on Friday. It may not work again. Each kid and each day is just so different. I’ll still read my books. I’ll still try new tricks to make our lives smoother and help them learn what they need to be successful… like getting dressed in the morning.

But I won’t ever just assume that this one thing that worked once on one child is obviously the best idea ever.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that a younger version of myself actually thought did.

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