Do you find your day starting off in chaos and stress as you try to get your child to school on time? Would you believe us if we told you, it doesn’t have to be that way? Try these simple strategies for making your morning routine one less thing to worry about.
- Wake them up ten minutes earlier and give them the 20 minutes they need.
- Are they able to get breakfast done in 15 rather than 20 minutes? Steal five minutes from breakfast and add it to getting dressed time.
- Are they distracted by the TV or a computer? Consider screen-free mornings or allow screen time after they are completely ready.
- Are they distracted by a sibling? Consider having each child get ready in a different room.
Habits are Habit Forming
Children like routines. They like to know what to expect. They gain self-confidence when they can meet or exceed expectations. When they don’t meet expectation, they can learn about natural consequences.
Create a list of tasks you expect your child to get done in the morning:
- Make your list simple and fun to look at. Have your child add decorations.
- If your child doesn’t read easily yet, use pictures of kids brushing teeth or eating breakfast to show what needs to get done. Try comics or humorous pictures.
- Be detailed – Eat breakfast and put dishes in the sink.
- Get your child involved in creating the list. Give them choices. Should washing their face or brushing teeth be first?
- Post the list where it’s easily visible.
- Use stars or stickers cautiously so that children don’t think getting a “prize” is the only reason to brush their teeth.
- Try logical results for positive behavior. If your child didn’t get distracted or waste time in the morning, there’s extra time for pancakes instead of cold cereal or extra screen time.
In addition to a list of tasks, try a checklist by the door too. Brushed teeth? Brought lunch and homework? Turned off lights in your bedroom?
The Night Before
What can you take care of the night before to avoid some of the morning rushes?
- Make a nightly ritual of checking the weather forecast. Lay out clothes for the next day based on your “findings.” It’s a great way to talk about seasons changing and the science of weather.
- Prepare lunches. Get your kid involved. Even the youngest child can decide between an orange and apple or put food in their lunch bag.
- Is homework done? Permission papers or other forms signed?
- Have packs and anything else needed ready to go and sitting by the door. Put shelves by the door if possible. It’s a great place for you to put what you need to bring too, which can be a great example to your kids.
- Get your child to bed at a consistent time that allows for enough sleep. A consistent bedtime is helpful for parents too. A tired child (or parent) is often hard-to-get-going and grumpy.
Your Unique Child and Your Unique You
Everyone has different energy at different times of day, learns different ways, likes and dislikes different things and has their own strengths and challenges. What would make your morning routines best for your individual child, yourself and your family?
- If your child or you have nighttime energy but are sluggish in the morning, make sure you get as much done the night before as possible.
- What are the most challenging tasks?
- If getting shoes on takes the most time, try having your child practice when they have plenty of time, not when you are trying to get out the door.
- Do you find yourself most impatient when your child can’t decide what to eat? Decide on breakfast and put the box of cereal, a bowl and spoon on the table the night before.
Notice your child’s skills and accomplishments. They will love hearing you praise them for remembering their lunch. You’ll feel better focusing on the positive.
Staying Calm When the Inevitable Happens
No matter what you do, there will be mornings when things don’t go according to plan – Your child suddenly decides she hates her favorite cereal and refuses to eat anything else or you forgot the school bake sale was today. The list can go on. The unexpected happens and things don’t run as smoothly as you wish, even with the great planning you do. So what now?
- Be clear and simple when met with resistance. If teeth aren’t brushed, avoid the lecture. “Brush teeth,” is better than explaining cavities.
- Be calm. It’s hard not to be frustrated, but keeping calm can help you and your child get through the morning challenges.
- Follow through with natural consequences as appropriate for your child’s age and situation.
- Didn’t get on clothes? Wear pajamas to school.
- Caution: Make sure your child doesn’t think it’s fun to wear pajamas to school!
Oh What A Beautiful Morning!
Even if you are not a morning person, by organizing and creating routines, mornings can go more smoothly. Involve your child in creating a plan that works for them and you. Give praise when they follow through and natural consequences when they don’t.
Try your best to stay calm and in good humor and you might even enjoy the mornings.
This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors, Tova Stabin, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson (andupdatemywebsite.com). Parenting Now! is passionate about happy, healthy families. For more information about Parenting Now! contact us here.
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