Managing Mornings

The alarm goes off. You drag yourself out of the bed. As you stare at your sleep-filled eyes in the mirror, you wonder, “How can I get everyone out of the house on time, with library books, lunches, backpacks and no yelling?”

Here are some helpful tips to make your mornings manageable.

The night before:

Make a checklist: what appointments must you keep the next day, what library books are due, who has show & tell, what will you need for meetings?  Plan what you will wear the next day.  Help your children plan what they will wear the next day.  Lay out the dishes you will use at breakfast and if it’s cereal, go ahead and choose what will be eaten.

Get into a routine:

Get up a little earlier than the rest of the family to get yourself going.  Use TEAMWORK! Divide the chores and assign some to each parent. Older children can do some of their own work. Even if mom or dad leaves very early, some jobs, like making coffee or lunches, can be done early. Involve as many family members as possible.  Have the children dress themselves (if possible). If they’re not dressed, they don’t eat. If this happens once, it most probably won’t happen again.  Start 30 minutes earlier than you have been. Everyone will be just as tired as they normally are, but everyone will rush less.

Overall things to remember:

Don’t nag or yell. Use a countdown system. Periodically announce “15 minutes until breakfast!” “10 minutes until breakfast!” “5 minutes until breakfast!” “Time for breakfast now!” Everyone will know exactly where they need to be and it will be their own fault if they aren’t ready (except for little ones). Use this method also when it’s time to leave the house.  Discuss the routine and the consequences of not following the routine before hand. Make sure that you stick to the routine and the consequences. Don’t say “This is the first day, they have to get used to it…” Start from day one with enforcement and things will go smoothly from then on.  Be firm but positive. Start the mornings with a smile even if you had insomnia all night long or you went to bed after a fight. It’s a new morning. Start over. Show your children that you love them with a hug or a kiss on the cheek. Sometimes a squeeze on the shoulder or a pat on the head will work.  Don’t be a bed slug. If you keep hitting the snooze button, your children will pick up your habits and the morning chaos will continue.  Eliminate distractions. Don’t turn on the TV or allow any playing until breakfast is finished and the children are ready to go.  You might consider a reward system to motivate the change in the morning routine.

Getting a good morning start in a positive atmosphere is a wonderful way to start the day for both parents and children. If you and your family learn to schedule a routine and stick with it, the rest of the day will flow more smoothly for everyone.

Children will learn that organization and “stick-to-it-ness” will help them in every other area of their lives as well as getting up in the mornings. You, as parents, will find yourselves less stressed as you start your workday.

Don’t forget. Hug your children goodbye. Showing love lets your children know that you love them and also fills your mornings with love. What better way to start a workday?