The key to any routine is its predictability, and that’s doubly true in the wee hours of the morning, when half-awake parents are leading half-awake children to school or day care. Every school year our routine changes a bit, but by following this basic framework, everyone gets out the door on time (most days).
Things I have banned over the past 12 years of getting ready in the morning with kids include, in no particular order:
- Pancake syrup
- Chocolate syrup
- Toothpaste (with my dentist’s permission)
- Fidget spinners
- Shoes that can’t be worn for gym class
By eliminating distractions (electronics, Bey Blades) and mess-making opportunities (syrups and toothpaste), my kids are less likely to get off track. We save all of our syrup, toys and TV for days we aren’t working on getting out the door.
Move needed items to where they are needed
I can’t even tell you how much my life changed for the better the day I put the socks downstairs next to the shoes. No one wants to run back to their room to get socks on their way out the door, and if they do, chances are they’ll find 129 other things to do in their room while they’re up there. And then still come back without socks on. Everything needed in the morning has a place in our morning pathway. Socks are by the shoes which are next to the backpacks; toothbrushes, combs and deodorant are all in the bathroom closest to the kitchen.
Help them help themselves
Breakfast options stay pretty much the same every day – can anyone really make decisions before 8 a.m.? Waffles or cereal, milk or juice – that’s pretty much the extent of their choices at breakfast. They can reach everything they need, from the plates to milk, and serve themselves.
Figure out lunches
When they were younger, it was on me to pack the lunches. Now one child prefers to buy lunch and one packs. The one who packs has a shelf where all of the lunch items are kept – he can quickly grab what he needs without much thought or mess. Anything that isn’t individually packaged, I divide up into portions ahead of time.
Give them something to do if they’re ready early
Some of our best-worst mornings are the ones that are really smooth, right up until they aren’t. They’re the mornings where one kid is ready early, and then gets involved in something, and then doesn’t want to leave the activity. Who would want to leave an awesome Hot Wheels track for school? Not me.
Now if someone’s ready early, they can wait outside on the front porch or read a
book (which can then be carried to the car if needed). No raucous fun is allowed until AFTER school is over. Also, they’re not considered ready until their shoes are on.
Does it seem a bit like a military drill? Maybe. Does every morning go smoothly? Definitely not. But most every day, everyone leaves relatively prepared and ready to take on the day. And we REALLY enjoy a lazy Saturday.