Hectic mornings are a quintessential part of the school year for families. The easy mornings of the summer are still present in the minds of our kids, and they have not yet fully adjusted to their school schedule. The beginning of the school year is a learning process at home and at school. Teachers create predictable routines in their classrooms so that the children know what to expect each day, and what is expected of them. Parents can achieve the same level of calm at home by using these effective tips to create a morning routine.
Create a Routine
Think about what needs to be done each morning before the little ones head off to school. They must get dressed, eat, collect their items, and be ready to leave at a certain time. What sounds simple enough often turns to chaos over the smallest of details. It isn’t necessary for a routine to be scheduled minute by minute. Having a general idea of when each task needs to be accomplished by works fine for most people. If there are older children in the home a written schedule posted on the fridge, or another common area, with the order of events in the morning will serve as a familiar reminder of what they see at school.
Plan and Prepare
Leaving everything to be done in the morning is a recipe for disaster. Do anything that can be done the night before such as making lunches and setting out clothing. If the kids are old enough to choose their own gear have them pick out their outfits before going to bed. Know what will be served for breakfast, so the decision doesn’t have to be made under stress. Make sure backpacks are ready to go by the door and that the kids’ homework is already inside to avoid the ‘I left my homework at home’ speech.
If there is a recurring problem each morning, then address the matter rather than letting it continue. Do the kids drag their feet to get ready because they are watching cartoons or playing on their tablets? Electronics are hugely distracting, and our kids are completely attached to their devices. Stress is the result for us as parents and them as kids. Parents tire of their directions getting ignored and having to have the same arguments. Kids get upset because they do not understand why they cannot have screen time or why it is limited. A good suggestion is not to allow screens in the morning except on weekends. The TV can be on something neutral like a morning show or the news to provide background noise, but nothing child-specific.
Expect the Unexpected (…& Some Complaints)
Change isn’t always fun. Parents can expect resistance at first. There will be complaining about every little thing until the routine is accepted by all. Keep reminding the kids to check the schedule if they can read. Eventually, it will become the norm the same as their daily schedule at school.
Every morning might just have the same ingredients, but the outcome will not always be identical. The unexpected can be when one kid is sick, suddenly forgot a project, or an inexplicable fit happens. Rather than let these events ruin the day it a better to take a ‘ roll with it’ approach. Handle each situation as it arises while trying to keep to the routine as much as possible.
Each family has a unique dynamic and is motivated by different things. Something as simple as music can set up a positive attitude for the day. While everyone is going about their morning preparations, the right background music can be very uplifting. Instead of constantly disciplining our children for not listening we can try to redirect them to other subjects like the fun they will have in music that day or upcoming weekend plans.
Motivation can be the solution when the kids refuse to improve. Chart each day when the kids do well in their morning routine. This gives them a visual aid to see how they have been acting. Bring the motivation factor in by offering rewards for each week of good behavior. This can be non-tangible like some extra screen time, edible like a trip to the ice cream shop, or tangible like a small toy. Siblings especially do well with these systems because they become competitive to earn rewards.
There’s no reason to continue each day with a stressful start. Get the entire family involved to create and implement a morning routine. Children thrive on predictability. They want to know what to expect. Planning will reduce the stress from extra chores in the morning. Help the kids to focus by eliminating distraction and pushing through complaints. Keep the routine uplifting and rewarding to create a positive connotation with the routine. Parents can improve their family’s mornings with these tried-and-true suggestions.