Monday, February 3, 2014

ITM: Morning Routine

Oh, how I long for those days in early September when going to school was novel and fun and the kids jumped out of bed to get ready. Then, as the days got shorter and the darkness got longer, things started to slow down. Throw subzero temps into the mix and an erratic schedule of actual school days and I feel like I should just throw my hands up into the air and give up!

At one point, when I asked my kids why they thought we'd started running behind in the mornings and having to rush, my oldest admitted "Because we were really excited about school at the beginning of the year, and now we're not." You have to appreciate a seven year-old's simple truth.

Regardless of how we feel about it, on the average weekday morning we all have somewhere we need to be, typically work or school (or a little of both). Something as simple as getting out the door can create major stress for a family, especially when you're working with young children, whose concept of timeliness is still a work in progress.

Here are a couple of strategies, some tried and true, some new, that I hope will keep mornings flowing at a nice pace to avoid the feeling of rushing out the door:
Breakfast orders, ready to go!
  1. Move parts of the morning routine to the bedtime routine. Have your kids pick out tomorrow's outfit the night before and set it aside. Show and Tell tomorrow? Get it in the backpack tonight!

    We also have the kids place their breakfast order the night before. I labeled jumbo craft sticks with breakfast food options and made one set for each kid. For pre-readers, you could take a photo of each item and adhere to the sticks (glue, tape or Velcro would all work well). You'll see my youngest added his own special squiggly lines as a "chef's surprise." Be sure to remove the coordinating stick if you've run out of something on the "menu."
  2. Set a time limit on breakfast. I would normally advocate that kids should be able to eat at their own pace (I could get on my soapbox here about how I believe the 20-minute lunch period at public school is not long enough...) but my kids could also spend upwards of an hour at the table, especially at breakfast, which they fully agree is the most important meal of the day! I'm merely suggesting you are very clear about when breakfast needs to be done.
  3. Make lunches the night before or early in the morning before your kids wake up. If your child likes to help with making their lunch, do it right after dinner. Keep perishable items in the refrigerator (you could even throw the whole lunch box in the refrigerator!). Just make sure you know, before bedtime, what your kids would like packed in their lunch to avoid running into an obstacle the next day.
  4. Organize backpacks the night before. Even as soon as your child is done with their homework, make sure everything they'll need for class the next day is where it needs to be. And this is a task that can be easily delegated for your child to do themselves (My second grader is currently responsible for his own backpack--with my oversight, of course).
  5. Give everyone enough time to wake up.
    This includes yourself. Much as I love to sleep in when I can, I save that for the weekends. Giving everyone enough time to wake up is crucial, so that you're not feeling rushed from the get-go, which is not the way for anyone to start their day. Set alarm clocks--one for you and one for the kids--if that's helpful.
  6. No matter what, stay calm. I say this as a self-imposed mantra. Remind yourself that there really is no need to rush, rush, rush. How late will you be, if at all? One minute, five minutes, ten minutes? It's not ideal, but it's not the end of the world, either. There's always tomorrow.
What are your tips for making sure everyone gets out the door on time in the morning? Please share!

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