We’ve all been there – vanishing belongings. It’s 6:30 in the godforsaken morning and one of the kids suddenly cannot find their PE shirt. Whether you are married or divorced, you want to strangle them. You are about to have the, we’ve-talked-about-this-a-million-times-you-would-have-known-it-was-missing-if-you’d-put-out-your-clothes-last-night, talk. But if you’re anything like me, your kids are spared from this mostly because you are so sick of listening to yourself, since you’re the only one listening anyway.
This is even trickier when your kids have two homes. You don’t even know what home it’s in, who to blame, or who to beat. When was the last time you even saw the damn thing? Part of you wants to call your ex who is blissfully sleeping because they only have to get themselves dressed this fabulous Monday morning, and how do they not know at this point that the kid has PE on Mondays? Another part wants to inflict bodily harm on whomever is closest, even if it’s the dog. The last part, wants to just go back to bed and give up because you thought briefly about making sure the kids clothes were laid out last night, but didn’t want to get the hell up AGAIN, so you let it go. This morning you, hates last night you.
At 6:30AM, there is little to be done but to say, “then I guess you’ll be wearing something else”, and then continue to make your tea before injuring someone.
So, what does this mean for you? There are a number of possible solutions and I employ them all.
- Your kids have to be responsible for their things and responsible for bringing them back and forth between houses. A great fix for my oldest is having to explain to the 32 intrusive peers in her class why she isn’t wearing the right clothes. You better believe she’s better about it now or at least she’ll learn not to care about other’s opinions. Both are OK with me.
- The obvious fix that we use is having more than one of each thing. No, this absolutely does not always work because somehow, at one time or another, your kid ends up with all 57 pairs of whatever, at your house. A word of caution, DO NOT go out and purchase a new version of something every time your child needs one at your house. You do not want your children assuming that they should have 2 of everything or that they can get the newer, nicer model if they “forget” it at mom’s.
- Actually communicate. I know, I know, but “their my ex, and if we didn’t suck at it, we wouldn’t be divorced”. Now that you two live separately, don’t answer to each other, and have a different dynamic, you have to learn new methods of communication. If you cannot talk without fighting, use email or text. A simple, “Hey, since little Bobby-Sue has PE on Fridays (our swap day), all her casual shorts ended up at your house, which gives her very little to wear on the weekends here. Tonight (Thursday), could you please remind her to pack a few pairs? I mentioned it before she went to your house but it’s been a few days and I’m not confident she’ll remember.” See how easy that is? Then, if she doesn’t pack them you can yell at them both for forgetting! Yay! I’m kidding, don’t do that shit.
- This one is last because I know some parents who utilize this but it is my least favorite. Bail out your child. Have a hidden back-up that you pull out for mornings like these. I hate clutter and promote personal responsibility. As such, I think the child needs to learn from not planning ahead, and your ex needs to learn that their kid is going to be pissed if they are never coming through. Putting the pressure on yourself to constantly adjust for others’ shortcomings is exhausting and makes you resentful. Remember, this is their path. However, as mentioned above, sometimes (definitely not all the time), you just have to fix the problem to keep your sanity. As long as this is not the norm, you will all survive.
- If none of that works, try a bubble bath and some wine. At 6:30AM??? Yes, if that’s what it takes. And chocolate, always add chocolate.