Chaos Parenting


I fell in love with the Chaos theory in high school after I did a project on it in my calculus class. Fractals are the breathtakingly beautiful visual manifestation but they are only part of the picture…

Order from madness. 

Expect the unexpected. 

A tiny change in initial parameters of a complex system will result in a completely different outcome.

What’s not to love? Very sexy stuff, really. (And if you are an expert in Chaos theory and I have butchered or misrepresented something here, I apologize profusely.)

Anyone who has had kids knows that getting them out of the house and off to school on time with your sanity intact is a highly variable process. I have written about my frustrations here before. Pardon me if I sound like a broken record, continually bringing this up.

I have found that just when I think I have it all figured out some new variable seemingly throws the whole system out of whack and I am left scrambling. Frustration boils over on both ends and devolves into kicking and screaming and sobbing. 

(Sometimes the kids get upset, too…)

So with school starting a few weeks ago, the only difference, I swear, was that their clothes were different colors in the morning. Seriously. Uniforms were back in play. That was it. Everything had been working fine until that point. Now? Insanity.

How to fix this? The harder I tried, the worse it got. 

Was the problem with them or was it with me?

I like control, order. I don’t like it for me per se. I like it around me. As I was yelling upstairs for the fiftieth time and getting ready to march on up there to start taking toys, I had an epiphany. Trying to micromanage this dynamic system was not working. Maybe I should try backing off, letting the chaos BE chaos and see what happens. 

So I tried backing off the past few weeks. I wake them up, point out their clothes, and then leave. No yelling or shouting. The rest is up to them for the next 20 minutes. Provided they get downstairs by 7AM, there is no mommy interference.

And you know what? It works. So far. Most days. Two dressed kids on time, ready for breakfast, and a mom that is way less stressed.

Order from the chaos. 

At least until the next tiny change in parameters to throw the whole thing off course again.

Now if I could just figure out how to mitigate all of the other obstacles to my mornings. Like trains. Crazy drivers. Stop lights. School zones. THEN, I could truly be happy….


76 thoughts on “Chaos Parenting

  1. Yes, yes, and yes! I have had the same crazy mornings and the same revelation about letting my daughter be, and if we are late to school it is HER tardy and HER attendance record and HER responsibility. Thank you for the reminder…it is much needed. Good luck!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Ha! When I was married my wife and I found an elegant solution to this problem – and we never had that problem again. Are you ready for the final solution? Here we go – I hope you’re taking notes. We hired a nanny to get the kids ready for school and we left for work before they got up. Tah Dah!

    Bwahaha! It worked great = we had a local retired Venezualan woman who wanted to make a few dollars a week. We paid her two hours in the am and two hours in the pm (until Marie or I got home) to get the kids off to school (and when they were younger to wait at the bus with them)and be there when they got home., We also rolled sick days into it so she was available for full days if one of them was sick. Worked great. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think my children were about the age of yours when I realized I didn’t really have any control. I could guide. I could mentor. I could accept. But, I couldn’t control. Since then I have tried to do without, and I am a much happier person. My children are all productive adults with their own children. We have good relationships. They even ask me for advice. Doing without control actually works.

    You might find “365 Tao” by Deng Ming-Dao helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You can borrow my jeticopter to get to work and drop the kids off with their parachutes. Have them stand on the top of the roof at the end of the day and grab ahold of the rope ladder and VOILA!
    I am chaos herself. I enjoy the order to an extent-then IM the one to come in and mess it all up MWAHAHAHAHA

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This was hilarious! I really enjoyed reading it and can completely relate! Kids like to keep us on our toes it seems. As one who also likes order around me, I have never felt more out of control than when I had kids!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Victo, if it stops working, then it’s to the Adjustment Theory. What you’re really good at! In practice! I know, what happens at home is different! I’d let them flop around in chaos if it happens. Just to see what happens next! Good luck! Chryssa

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Been there and tried everything, even stepping back. First round was with my daughter and then one granddaughter and later another one. I need order around me. I can now chill and step back even when they sound like they are killing each other.
    Hope this new way keeps working for you. Everyone desires a good start to their day, at least for a few minutes. XX

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In the art co-op I was challenged to work with a controller who could not ask for what she wanted; she could only lobby, forcefully and ceaselessly, for changes in the entire system that would give her what she wanted. Because of her, I quit but I still do all their internet stuff. The net effect is getting her controlling in my inbox. What I want to tell her is, “Step back, look at what’s already going on, and just play your part. You don’t have to play my part, or X’s part, or Y’s part. Just play YOUR part and be frank and honest about what you want.” Sounds like that worked with your kids. I, also, love chaos theory. I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve learned about and then Nietzsche said, “Unless you have chaos within you, how can you give birth to a dancing star?” (I don’t know if I got that exactly right…).

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Glad you found a way that works for you. I hope this autonomy relieves stress for all of you. Funny, but with the boy one, I had a system — “Are you dressed?” followed by “Do you have shoes on?” then “Did you eat?” and “Is you hair down? Have you brushed your teeth?” –Until about 15. His three sisters never required any of that. I wake them and they do stuff. They sit around waiting to leave or they scramble at the last minute, but they do it on their own. It’s quite nice!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Save yourself, Doc, let go of the idea of control. It will make your mornings go so much more smoothly. I knew I was in trouble when my 2 yr. old rejected my choice of clothing. Problem solved with private school uniforms.☺ My son was so much easier. They were both morning people, that helped a lot. The best part for me, when they started on a school schedule…I was approaching 40, and my standards had changed; I was more “chill”. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am not a parent so do excuse me for my possible lack of knowledge. I did survive jobs with terrible managers and there are often two scenarios:
    1. The manager is a control freak and always there.
    2. The manager trusts you and is always nearby.

    The manager of scenario two, I still remember by name. Someone who gives you some trust and appreciation is someone you make an effort for. Theory or no theory, people are people and humans are not completely rational.

    A sign of trust and/or appreciation, even a subtle one goes a long way. Dale Carnegie really explains it well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I often forget that kids really are little adults in some ways (not all ways, but some ways for sure). As I was writing this I was analyzing how I am with my office staff and honestly I think I am micromanaging more of late given the recent extensive experiences with bad apples. I need to take a deep breath and a big step back and see what happens there too.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I look forward to the morning routine being more out of my hands. My daughter just turned 2 and finds the most joy in running away from me right now. I think we average about 45 minutes to get her from the crib to the car–dressed, teeth and hair brushed, vitamined, shoes on. Add more time if she decides to melt down.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I do not have children, so I cannot relate. But as a teacher, one lesson I learned early on was to allow students to learn from failure and their own wins. When a student succeeds, make sure the win is celebrated. They will learn independence and want more wins. When I first started managing workers, I over did it and micro-managed. Now I know better. I am probably at the opposite end of the spectrum now.
    Your chaos is based on love so I would call it lovely chaos. It too will pass real fast and in a few years you will say….remember when?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: My Article Read (9-5-2015) | My Daily Musing

  15. I gotta tell you this one Victo. When I was hauling fuel I used to stop regularly at a truck stop outside Montreal. I struck up a friendship with one of the waitresses and she had twin boys about 10 years old. She told me an hilarious story about trying to get her boys organized and out the door in the morning. She got tired of nagging them every morning and they had made her late a few times. So she called a meeting and explained that they were going to develop a checklist that had to be used every day. So she used this as a learning experience and had them draw up an excel spreadsheet that listed all their necessary items like boots and coat and toque and homework and mittens, etc – down the left side. Across the top was a day for each school day of the month. The idea was that before they went to bed each night they would get their stuff ready for the next morning and as they located each item they checked off the box beside that item for that day.

    So, the first day of the new routine came and that evening she inspected their checklists and they had all the appropriate boxes checked off. the next morning they were getting ready when one of them called out:

    “Mooooom! I can’t find my coat!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, hit send in error.

      Anyway, she was upset and told the boys to bring their lists to her. They did and she shook the lists in front of them and demanded to know why all the boxes were checked off and they still couldn’t find their stuff. The boys looked very surprised and asked:

      “You mean we were supposed to check the boxes AND find our stuff too?”

      Bwahaha! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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