These ways to make mornings easier will help your family start their day with a smile, rather than stress.
Ah, mornings. Rumor has it there are some people who spring out of bed excited to start their day. I’ve never seen one of those people, mind you, but that’s probably because I try to avoid all human contact until I’ve started my second cup of coffee. When my kids were little, that wasn’t so easily done.
Over the years, though, I learned a few things about making mornings easier — mostly because I got very tired of writing creative yet (mostly) honest apology notes to teachers for getting them to school late. Really, there are only so many times you can blame the dog for burying your car keys or claim your car battery needed a jump before educators begin thinking you’re one fruit loop shy of a full bowl.
Personally, I despise being late. I’m one of those people who panics if I’m not 15 minutes early to an appointment, and most times I prefer 30. I’ll happily sit in my car and check my phone until 5 minutes before the appointed time, but not one second longer or I’ll break out in a sweat.
My kids? Back then their concept of time was quite fluid. “I’m getting ready” most often meant they’d just sat up in bed but hadn’t convinced themselves to do anything further, and “ready to go” meant they’d just started putting on clothes. It drove me batty!
Now that my oldest is in her mid-20s, I’m proud to say she’s become such a punctual person you could set a clock by her. Even my youngest (who was invariably the slowest one to get ready in the morning) has now, at age 16, begun to get himself up and out the door on time in the morning without one word from me.
It’s heaven, really, and I like to think it’s thanks to these habits I adopted over the years in my efforts to make mornings easier.
1. Wake up before your kids, not to them.
There’s no way around it: waking up mere moments before you have to wake the kids guarantees you’ll start the day struggling. Even if your kids are old enough to get themselves out of bed and dressing, you’ll still be torn between tending to your own morning routine and making sure they’re on track with theirs.
Which is not to say you’ve got to wake up an hour before everyone else — even fifteen minutes earlier is enough to make a difference. The best way to decide how much earlier to set your alarm is by totaling the time you need to have coffee or tea and get yourself ready to go. Once your routine is done, get the kids up and you’ll have time to monitor them while checking email or just tidying up the kitchen.
Also see: Daily Whole House Tidy Routine
2. Make waking up less miserable.
If you’re the kind of sleeper who needs to set a blaring alarm (or two) to get yourself out of bed, you already know what an unpleasant way that is to start the day. I used to do the same thing, then I switched to a sunrise-simulating alarm clock. What a difference that made! I’m going on a year of waking up on time, every time, without aggravating noise.
Sunrise alarms are great for kids, too. You might think “Oh, I don’t want my kids learning to wake at first light every day, including the weekends!” Good news: they quickly learn to sleep through the real sunrise in favor of waking to their beside one instead…especially if you use blackout curtains in their bedroom.
3. Know what everyone is going to wear.
Nothing can throw a schedule out of whack faster than a kid who decides, immediately after breakfast, that they simply cannot wear the outfit they’ve got on and must change. Make choosing outfits part of the bedtime routine to keep fashion emergencies from messing up your mornings.
Worried your kid will still come up with a reason to swap? My oldest was like that, so I had her choose two outfits the night before — clothes, accessories, shoes, even underwear — and set them out neatly. If she decided on a last-minute switch it only took a minute or two and, if she did not, she had an outfit ready to go for the next day.
Also see: 5 Tips To Have A Good Morning
4. Use baskets to batch things in the bathroom.
Having to search for where your sibling put the toothpaste this time can slow anyone down. Ditto for hair products, deodorant, etc. Yes, it costs less at the register if you only have to buy one tube that all the kids can share, but it’ll cost you time in the morning.
Instead, give everyone a bathroom basket containing all of the things they need to start and end the day. Some things to include: toothpaste, comb or brush, hair products, deodorant, lotion. As a bonus, their bathroom counters stay neater when they get in the habit of putting things back in their basket.
Try This Trick For Speedy Mornings
5. Stick with a schedule…and post it.
You might think they ought to know the routine by now. How hard is it, really, to get up, get dressed, brush your teeth, eat breakfast and get out the door? Well, it’s apparently hard enough that you’re reading this. Don’t feel bad, though: we still joke with my oldest about the time she started to get in the car wearing her pajamas because no one had told her to get dressed. She was nine.
Establish a schedule for your kids to get them through all of the things they must do in the morning — and again at bedtime, if you like — then print it up. You can make it as attractive or utilitarian as you like. Then hang it in their bathroom where they’ll see it. Hang another in their bedroom and one in the kitchen, so your kids never have to wonder what they’re supposed to be doing next.
Also see: Making Your Bed Can Change Your Life: 30 Day Challenge
6. Reward them for getting ready early.
No one is saying you need to give them a trophy for getting themselves ready on time. In fact, please don’t do that! Still, finding a few easy ways to acknowledge successful efforts gives kids an incentive to stay on schedule.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate, either. Let the first one choose the music for the ride to school. My youngest loved to play a round or two of old-fashioned jacks at the kitchen table when we had time to spare. Blowing bubbles in the house or driveway is another one, or give them bonus screen time to watch cartoons.
It’s worth it.
Mornings might never be your favorite time of the day, but you can make mornings easier with kids. The important part on your end is sticking with it. Before long, they’ll be in the habit of making it through their morning routine on time without you. That’s when you know you’re on your way to raising independent, productive future adults — which, after all, is one of the main goals of parenting, right?
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