For some families, mornings are the best time of day, but it seems that mornings are often the worst and most dreaded time of day.
You do not have to feel like you are stuck in that pattern, there is always a way to change your behavior and provide tools to help your children be more productive, self-reliant and task orientated.
I suggest beginning the idea of a morning routine from a very young age. The routine will change as they get older, but the idea that they are accustomed to a flow to their morning and the expectation of their participation will develop to be part of their nature.
Here are a few ideas and tips to get you started on creating a simple routine for your child.
Planning Is Key
Problems in the morning are often rooted in the fact that things should have been done the night before. Think about whatever you can do in advance and fit that into your ‘evening’ routine! Helping your child discover the benefits of doing what they can in advance and ahead of time will end up flowing over into other areas of their live later on.
If they are school age, here are a few things that can be done the evening before:
Preparing backpacks with homework, fresh supplies, library books, permission slips, etc
Decide on tomorrows outfit – even laying out the jacket/coat and shoes
Setting out breakfast dishes/cereal/non-perishable items
It is not uncommon for parents to wake kids up in the morning, but often that is when the negative battle can begin. The goal with your child is to find a way where they can get themselves up so the day does not begin in a negative way. I found it very helpful to set up my children with their own alarm clock. If you do not have a spare one laying around, make a special trip to pick out one that they will like – either with an alarm, musical wake-up or one with a radio. Allow them to choose and be part of the solution - telling them they are big enough to get themselves up and get their own day started gives children a wonderful sense of autonomy. Teach them how to set their alarm and fit that into your bedtime routine.
If children don’t get enough sleep, they will tend to be grouchy or angry – this should be no surprise, because I know I can be just the same if I miss out on my beauty sleep! Making sure your child gets at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night will prepare them to face their morning with a much better attitude. You may have to re-structure what happens in the evening to create the window your child needs to get enough sleep.
Back To School Morning Routine Tasks
Here are a list of tasks that we’ve incorporated into our children’s routines. Depending on your child’s age, choose a few tasks to start with and then slowly add new ones to get them to a place where they are truly taking care of a majority of their morning needs without you nagging and prompting them.
Making their bed
Put pajamas away
Taking vitamins or medication
Clearing dishes and cleaning up
Helping your child develop a ‘system’ for remembering their tasks is key. Is your child a verbal learning or visual? Most kids are very visual and it is very helpful to create some type of list or chart which has both words and pictures. I create my own chart with laminated task cards with Velcro on the back so they could move the tag when they completed a task, but there are several printables that I have run across lately that will work great as you decide what works best for you child.
When you take the time to create a routine for your child beginning early on, you are giving them a lifelong skill that will evolve as they gain more responsibility and independence. Routines free our minds up, cut down on stress and develop patterns that quickly develop into habits.
Get more great ideas on routines and helping your child become responsible in the Back 2 School Survival Guide!
You can create an easy and fun mood to your home and teach wonderful lessons in the process.
Next week I will talk about effective after-school routines!