For many parents, getting out of the house on time in the morning can be quite challenging, especially with young children. From last minute diaper changes to sudden meltdowns, it may seem nearly impossible to get everyone ready and out the door in a timely and peaceful fashion. While not everything can be controlled or predicted, there are some measures that can be taken that can help ease the process of your morning activities.
Here are some suggestions to help improve your morning routine:
Get a good night sleep. When the kids go to sleep, surely you can come up with a million things to do that can take you into the wee hours of the night – emptying the dishwasher, doing another load of laundry or watching TV. While it is necessary to take care of some of your daily responsibilities in the evening, mind the clock. One of the best ways to assure a peaceful morning is to enjoy a peaceful slumber.
Set the alarm clock. Give yourself enough time to take care of not only your children and their needs, but yours, as well. If it means setting the clock a few minutes earlier just so you can enjoy a cup of coffee with the morning news or a shower without interruption, do it. Give your children enough time to dress, eat breakfast and even play for a few minutes so that they, too, can have a peaceful start to the day.
Restock diaper bags and school backpacks the day before. Preparing diaper bag and back pack essentials at night will save much time and anxiety in the morning. Keep extra non-perishable snacks in your diaper bag, as well as a change of clothes, diapers and wipes. Replenishing these items on a daily basis should only take a few minutes. Check backpacks soon after your school-aged child returns from school for teacher’s notes, permission slips, craft projects, etc.
Place everything that needs to go in the car by the front door. Except for the cooler, leave pre-packed bags, keys, wallets and other necessities close to the door at night so that you won’t be scrambling to find any one of these items on your way out in the morning.
Have a checklist that your children can mark as they complete their morning responsibilities.
Make a to-do list. Having a tangible list of your daily responsibilities, as well as your children’s, will not only offer a clear path for all of you to follow in the morning but it will also help to prioritize when a morning routine goes haywire. Have a checklist that your children can mark as they complete their morning responsibilities.
Get your children dressed soon after they wake up. For many parents, getting their toddlers dressed and ready in the morning can be exhausting, especially when they are in a hurry. Lay your children’s clothes out the night before and get them dressed before they eat breakfast. Sloppy eaters can wear a bib or big t-shirt over their clothes to avoid stains.
Don’t procrastinate. Once your morning goals are set, meet them with ease by sticking to your plans. Do you really need to check your email or make that phone call now? Staying focused on the tasks at hand from the moment you and your children wake to the time you exit your home will result in a more successful and less stressful morning.
Communicate your expectations to your children. Children thrive on routine. It helps them to feel secure and confident. In addition to following a well planned morning schedule, try to stick to a routine for the entire day and school week, eating dinner at approximately the same time, for example. Try to get your children to sleep at a reasonable time, too. It will help them to feel refreshed in the morning. If you know your plans are going to change ahead of time, discuss with your children how things may be different on that particular day, for example, if someone else will be taking them to school because you have a doctor’s appointment.
... approach your children with enthusiasm and positive reinforcement.
Praise your children for a job well done. Children are easily distracted. When your children are able to stay focused and successfully follow the morning routine, praise them for their good work. And give yourself a pat on the back, too, for staying organized, focused and composed.
Be kind to yourself and to your children. Good intentions can sometimes go awry. It’s only natural. Remain calm at all times and consider the repercussions of losing control of your emotions in an attempt to be on time. Don’t scream and yell if your children are not cooperating. It will only make them and you feel worse about the situation. Rather, approach your children with enthusiasm and positive reinforcement. Almost every parent has been late at least once, if not more. Don’t be hard on yourself or your children if you are late. And don’t let a late start to the morning set the tone for the entire day. Take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and keep moving forward.
Be aware that your children are taking in every move you make and every word that comes out of your mouth. Set a good example. No one ever said parenting was easy. Take the job seriously but also put things in perspective as you go through your day. Teach your children how to be responsible but also to be flexible and calm under pressure.
Pausing for hugs is an absolute must in any parent and child’s morning routine!