Our mornings used to be a complete disaster… Thankfully, we live down the street from our elementary school so I could easily drive them over if my son missed the bus. But last year I had two kids in two different elementary schools that both started at the same time so I knew our routine was going to have to change… if my oldest missed the bus then both boys would be late for school and I would then be late for work.
So we had to make some big changes in our morning routine. When we stuck to the game plan it worked, and thankfully these changes were easy enough that we were able to stick with it- most of the time.
1. Get up before the kids. I started to set my alarm at least a half an hour before the kids need to be up. That gives me time to at least enjoy a cup of coffee in silence. If I have to go to work, I’ll set the alarm an hour before so I have time to get myself ready for the day.
2. Make a schedule. We’re not a regimented family, but I found that making (and posting) a morning schedule made a big difference in out mornings. This was the kids know what is expected of them and how much time they need to do it. Max helped me come up with his to include a little time for stretching and waking up. Having a schedule also allowed me to anticipate what they may need help with next and we’re all on the same page about what everyone should be doing.
3. Make getting ready a part of the bedtime routine. Picking out clothes, packing up backpacks, became incorporated into our bedtime routine. When the kids are finished with their dinner they put away the dishes and pack their backpacks for tomorrow. When it’s time to change into pajamas, they pick out clothes for tomorrow. It’s all about having them prep in the space that they are already in so it doesn’t feel like much of an extra chore.
4. Make dinner and lunch at the same time. While I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner (or cleaning up) I make lunch for the kids as well, if it’s something that I can make a couple ahead of time, I do that, that way in the mornings I can grab it and go.
5. No electronics in the morning. No tv, no video games, no computer. Even when everything is done it just makes it harder to get kids out the door.
6. Ease into better sleep. Our bedtime habits are a mess during break. So we start to bring it up by 15 minutes every couple days leading up to school for a gradual approach more reasonable bedtime and better sleep. It’s hard enough to get these kids to wake up when they’ve slept 8 hours it’s practically impossible on 5.
It hasn’t eliminated all the craziness of the mornings, but our good mornings are now far out numbering the bad ones.