Let’s face it: many of us are not morning people. And getting yourself and your family out the door can be a challenge. However, like with so many things, both you and your child can improve your morning routine by adopting a few organizational strategies.
Why are mornings so stressful in general? There are many reasons, but I think the main one is that we shove a whole lot of activity into a little bit of time. Those of us who may have a hard time waking up or getting going (that’s me!) can have an especially hard time. Here are six things to consider when it comes to simplifying your morning routine.
1. Prioritize what’s important. As a parent, you want your child to do as many things as they can on their own. However, as much as possible, you also want to set them up to experience success at the start. Consider choosing three things for them to focus on independently at first, and then prepare the rest for them, slowly adding things as time goes on.
Back in the day (wayyy back in the day, before I had an education focused degree), I was a before-school nanny. Tired of battling the two school-aged boys every morning, I prepared everything for them before they woke up, down to putting the toothpaste on their toothbrushes and pouring their cereal into their bowls.
At the time, I knew this wasn’t right. I wanted them to be doing things for themselves. However, looking back, I can see that it was an amazing survival technique at the beginning; it got us out the door on time and with little fuss. Employing this strategy can actually add positivity to your routine and make things a little more pleasant. Ask yourself: What’s important to you that they do on their own right now? What can wait, for the sake of building a positive rapport in the morning? While we don’t want to do everything for our children, choosing what’s important can help make those morning routines faster and easier when it’s necessary.
2. Set them up for success. This is definitely one of my mantras. Say one of the things you chose for your child to do independently is their tooth brushing routine—unassisted. Make sure that everything they need is right there—maybe even in a container on the counter, or in the same spot in the same drawer. Walk them through the process to make sure they know how to do it properly. It seems silly, but sometimes when routines haven’t been thoroughly explained, things are missed.
Want your child to pick out his or her own clothes? Make sure their closet or dresser is accessible. If your child can’t reach the rack where things are hanging, it’s going to be a lot harder for them to get this task done.
3. Simplify decision-making. Sometimes, having too many choices can be paralyzing and can actually prevent your child from making a timely decision. Want your child to pack his or her own lunch? Give them options (but not too many), on what is suitable to pack. This could come in the form of an easy-to-read list, or even just a special section in the fridge.
4. De-clutter. De-cluttering gradually will help routines flow at all times of the day. Chances are, if you are too overwhelmed by the mess in your house to get things done, your children are as well. Sometimes, you don’t even know how stuck your house is making you feel until after it’s been de-cluttered.
Remember that toothbrush and toothpaste I mentioned earlier? If it can’t be found in the clutter of the bathroom counter, it’s going to make it harder for proper oral care to happen. No set spot for your child’s lunch box? It is more likely to get lost, extending the time that it takes to get going in the mornings.
5. Do it the night before. While this may seem obvious and ideal, it’s not always possible. Of course, the more you can take care of the night before, the more time you save in the morning. However, no matter when you choose to prepare for the day ahead, these tips can help get you there a little bit faster and easier.
6. Explain yourself. When making any changes in your home, keep your children in the loop and involved in the process. Here are some examples:
“I’ve felt so rushed in the morning! I’m trying to do a couple of things differently so we all feel better when we’re starting our day. What is something you can do to make mornings go more smoothly?”
“We have so many things! I think that our days would be easier if there were fewer things in our house to take care of and worry about. You may notice me getting rid of some things here and there to make our house feel calmer. What things are you are no longer using that you could donate?”
“The next couple of months, I will be packing your lunch to save you some time in the morning. What part of the morning will you focus on since that is off your plate?”
Facing the day shouldn’t be something that we dread! Our homes are one of the few physical places in life that we actually have some control over, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. By adopting some strategies to get going on a positive note, value is added to the day—not only for us, but also for our families.