I can’t explain it, but every morning in my house is a huge cluster of lateness and frenetic flapping about. It’s awful. My kids have to be dragged out of bed at 7:45 on school days but are up and at ’em at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning. WHY IS THAT?! I love my monkeys and I hate to be such a nag-dragon every morning. So I made a resolution to stop what wasn’t working (everything) and start doing some new things.
My goal is get everyone out of the house in the morning in the least stressful way possible. The last thing I want my kids to remember all day is me putting them on the bus, huffy and annoyed because we were late again. They’ll be teenagers soon enough, and I understand that “huffy and annoyed” is fairly common among that demographic. Until then, I’m going to try to start our mornings off in a smooth, stress-free way!
I have asked a bunch of parents how they do it every day — getting everyone fed, dressed, washed, brushed and out the door — with all their stuff — without it being a stress-fest. Some answered that they were just morning people, so it wasn’t that hard. I ignored them. Then I asked the people who struggled with it and managed to pull it off anyway.
Here’s what they had to say …
1. Get your kids their own alarm clocks.
This year my kids are going to have their own alarm clocks, and they’re going to use them. My alarm and I will be their back-up, not their wake-up. One friend said her kids were so delighted with their new alarm clocks that the prospect of losing them made everyone all get up on time on their own. So that will be my rule, too: If you don’t USE your groovy new $5 alarm clock, you LOSE it.
2. Do your little girl’s hair the night before.
If you have daughters, getting hair brushed and pony-tailed can take forever. But for lots of girls, you can brush and braid the night before, and then only spend a minute or two straightening it up the next morning. I’m totally going to start doing this with my two girls (for as long as they’ll let me!).
3. Make getting backpacks ready a bedtime thing.
I thought this was a great suggestion: Get backpacks and school stuff completely sorted out and stacked by the front door the night before. Make it part of the bedtime checklist. Teeth brushed? Face washed? Backpack and jacket by the door? Great!
This way, my least favorite part of each morning can be avoided. You know the part where the children wander aimlessly around the house looking for things like library books and gym shoes as the school bus rolls by and my eye twitch turns into a migraine?
4. Pick out everyone’s outfit ahead of time.
I know some families that pick out their kids’ outfits for the whole week on Sunday night. That would be awesome if it actually worked for us (but it doesn’t). The outfit picked out for Tuesday is for sunny weather, and now it’s going rain. The outfit picked out for Friday is a dress, and I forgot I have P.E. So this year, we’re going to adopt this practice but focus on the next day. So each night, we’ll add picking out our clothes (me too, by the way, not just the kids) to our bedtime checklist.
5. Have grab-and-go breakfasts on hand.
Have ingredients like apples, peanut butter, yogurt, and eggs available so you can whip up a quick and easy breakfast in the morning!
6. Have kids make their lunch the night before.
My friend told me she has rules about lunches. Rule #1: Kids make their own lunches. Rule #2: If the lunches aren’t made by 7AM, you buy lunch that day. I love these rules because I want to make lunch never and my kids want to bring lunch always. But my youngest is 4, and guess what? She can slap cheese on bread. So if they want to bring it, they have to make it themselves. My job is to provide a gentle reminder; the rest is up to them.
7. Offer end-of-the-week rewards if everyone sticks to the routine.
I love this idea! If we rock it all week and get out of the house on time (and with a good attitude!), we can hit the park for a while and then stay up late on Friday night for a movie. Playground time, staying up late and extra screen time?! WOO HOOO! That’s how we party, you guys. Like ballers.
Seriously though, rewards are great and effective. I prefer to have the reward be about an activity, a privilege, or an experience together (rather than buying my kids something). Have you got some great ideas about what works for your family to speed up the morning routine? I’d love to hear about them!