I often hear from parents how difficult their mornings are. Getting the kids up, dressed, fed, brushed, (loved!), and out the door to school can really be challenging. It's especially tricky when you, too, are trying to pull yourself together, get ready for your day, whether you work in or out of the house.
This is especially true after a vacation or even after a weekend. Most families happily and easily fall into a pattern of hanging out in the morning, chilling at home in PJ's., taking all the time in the world on non school days. Then the school bell rings: Get a move on right now!
Here's the truth of the matter, the more you rush your kids, the slower they will be. As soon as you shriek, Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! We're going to be late! little spikes grow out of the bottoms of their feet. They go into slow motion. The machine all but stops. What's a parent to do?
The answer really isn't so hard. It may take a little getting used to and a lot of parental stick-to-it-iveness, but it works. And it is definitely worth making the change. It simply requires changing the order of the morning.
All mornings need to begin with a little loving. Whether your kids come into your bed or you visit theirs, children and parents need to reconnect in a loving way first thing in the morning. I call this "shnuggy time." After all, it was a drought all night long, and kids need to fill up their parent tanks as they start their day.
The next order of business is getting dressed. That's right, kids need to get completely dressed, head to toe, including shoes and socks, first thing after they are up and before breakfast or anything else. Often it's a good idea to lay out the clothing the night before. Try putting out the whole get-up, socks to hat, in the shape of a body on the floor. And if you are concerned that the freshly laundered shirt will soon be covered with breakfast syrup and smoothie, keep one of Dad's old tee shirts around to throw on over the school clothes to catch the spills.
Children under the age of four will likely need help with getting dressed. There are so many parts. And as you move the process along, you are teaching and encouraging the child's growing ability and independence in this area. Surprise and praise at her newly found dressing skills go a long way! But your four year old can get herself dressed, save buttons, zippers, and lace to be tied. Sometimes it helps if you invite her to bring her clothes into you room. Everyone loves a little company. And there are those who may need a gentle push with "Why don't you tell me which part I should do for you, and you can do the rest."
But breakfast only happens when the kids are completely dressed, shoes and all. No clothes, no food! After breakfast, teeth get brushed. If you must, have a tooth brushing set up in a downstairs bathroom. Facilitate it happening easily.
And after your kids are dressed, fed, brushed, backpack-ready, and only then, they just might have time for a game of Go Fish with you, time to work on the Lego rocket ship, time for the computer, or whatever is the carrot at the end of the process. If you do all your morning jobs in a timely manner, then you will have time for...
There's one more trick to your morning routine, and you're going to hate this one! When parents are rushing, kids get nuts. If you are not available, your children suddenly become broken and need you. If you are available, somehow they manage to take care of business. Go figure! You need to take care of yourself so you will be available to your children, and that might mean getting up 15 minutes earlier than they. I know, I know, I hear you groaning. But it is worth it. Starting the day on a pleasant note makes everyone's days just that much better.
Happy new year!
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