Mirror Motivation: A Different Kind of Pep Talk

Before you roll your eyes and scroll on to something else, I’m not talking about staring deeply into the mirror to motivate yourself to do whatever. Please. We’re moms. Who has time to look in the mirror???

I’m talking about the bathroom mirror and how to use it to spur your kiddos on.

I turned to the mirror when my son was having a tough time in school. He’d always LOVED school, but last year was rough. It’s a long story, but his attitude was deserved. There was a lot going on, pretty much all of it outside of his control, and he lost his love of school. The kid who used to bound out of bed and ask to go to school EVEN ON WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS (not sure what that says about how much he enjoys family time) didn’t want to go. He was miserable.

I spent many days acting as a cheerleader, giving pep talks and finding any sliver of anything that might make him look forward to the day. Back in the days when I was dropping him off at school, pep talks weren’t working. A special talisman in his pocket didn’t do the trick. Hugs and kisses at drop off just brought tears. So I turned to the mirror.

Using Crayola windows markers, I started leaving motivational messages for him on the bathroom mirror each morning. When he was brushing teeth and getting ready to go, he’d read them and add his own illustrations.

And they did the trick. I’ll never understand why simple phrases on the mirror helped us over the hurdle, but they did. And the mirror became part of our routine.

But I dropped the routine when our school routine went away. Now we’re tackling distance learning along with everyone else and weighing our options for when we’ll head back in person.

I underestimated the impact of distance learning. A different kind of stress, the stress of not having anything “normal,” of only seeing teachers online, wading through videos of assignments and not knowing your classmates other than through a computer screen, reared its head.

Since we’ve been doing this for so long, we’re on box three, so we have more than the standard eight to work with.

Out came the markers.

I’m not the Pinterest mom. I even dressed as a “#Pinterest Fail” one Halloween. My handwriting isn’t amazing and my art skills leave a lot to be desired. But when he turns on the light to see the mirror of the day, he’s always happy.

Every week day, there’s a new message. I’ve used it to cheer him on, make jokes, and do countdowns to holidays, birthdays, and special celebrations.

Alliteration is my friend. “Take Tuesday to the Top” is a favorite. Climb that Monday Mountain is another. Tuesdays and Fridays are favorites because he can edit whatever I put to add his comic take on passing gas. Hello “Tooting Tuesday” and “Farting Friday.”

When he was younger, I made up Dinosaur Days of the Week (Mosasaurus Monday, T-Rex Tuesday, Wannanasaurus Wednesday, Therizinosaurus Thursday, Fabrosaurus Friday) and Shark Days (Megalodon Monday, Tiger Shark Tuesday, Whale Shark Wednesday, Thresher Shark Thursday, Frilled Shark Friday). “Wookie Wednesday” also warms his Star Wars heart.

Quotes I’ve used to help start our day on the right foot.

For more serious messages, I’ve turned to Big Life Journal and their growth set mantras and ways to manage school anxiety. I’ve quoted Dr. Seuss more than once and thrown dry erase markers in the mix when our window markers began to give out. Movie quotes have been a hit (and turned into quotes about farts, of course) and there are a ton of kids-spirational quotes online.

Sometimes it’s just a joke – “Flatulating Friday” is a favorite – anything that brings a smile and breaks through to connect, laugh together, and give him something to think about when he feels stressed, even when our routine is anything but routine.

After all, if you start your day with a fart joke, there’s nothing you can’t handle, even if mom rolls her eyes in the mirror.

An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her growing up way too fast native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn runs Tale to Tell Communications, a San Antonio-based PR and marketing agency. An award-winning writer, Dawn also contributes to San Antonio Woman, Rio Magazine and Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She and her family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible. Favorite Restaurant: Clementine Favorite Landmark: The beauty of the River Walk, especially La Villita Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Celebrating anything and everything with color, music and food