[fbshare type=”button” float=”left” width=”100″]
This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps support the blog. Thanks!
Back to school time and the morning routine that keeps me sane are in full force in our home. And this year, both of my littles hopped on that big yellow bus. I lavished the lazy mornings of the summer long enough and am busy getting back into the swing of things.
As I do with every season of life, I’m taking a minute to evaluate our home’s systems and routines. Since the morning routine is the one that seems to set the tone for the entire day, that’s the one I’m starting with. Here are 8 tips that I use to establish a morning routine that works for our family.
Be realistic about the amount of available time you have in the morning.
Basically, make sure you’re not trying to stack two hours worth of activity into thirty minutes. First, determine how long you have from the moment your kids’ feet hit the floor to the time you need to get them and/or you out the door. Do they not have a consistent wake-up time? Consider what you can do to have their wake-up OR their ‘coming out of their room’ time be more regular.
An age-appropriate and consistent bedtime should help regulate when they wake up. And, communicating your rules about when they are allowed to come out coupled with a clock like the OK to Wake! clock will go a long way in starting your morning off right. For instance, my kids know that if they wake up before 7:00 a.m., they can go ahead and get dressed, make their bed, and read or play until that clock strikes seven.
Secondly, decide what YOUR wake-up time will be (ideally before the kids wake up) and calculate how much alone time you have before the rest of the house wakes up. During this alone time, you can do activities that help start your day on the right foot like reading, praying, stretching, showering, or GASP! enjoying a hot cup of coffee. This is also a great time to knock a couple of items off of your to-do list before the chaos of the day begins.
Build the routine with your kiddos.
I work with my kids whenever we’re entering a new season to craft out a routine that works for all of us. We sit down, and I ask them to list the things that need to be done before we leave for school in the morning. I, of course, edit the list since ‘Brush My Teeth’ makes the first round, but you get the drift. They actually KNOW what they need to do when they sit and think about it.
Automate your breakfasts.
Who likes to start the morning off making decisions? Um…no one. But as a mom, it’s inevitable. So, I’m a fan of automating as many of the tasks that require decision making as possible.
We have a rotation of breakfast meals that we eat (you can read how this one step simplified our mornings), so I don’t need to decide what we’re eating each day. Some families offer the same three breakfast foods every day. Awesome. Find what works for your family and roll with it.
Along with this, we keep ‘eating times’ pretty consistent also. Breakfast is at 7:30 and it’s done by 8:00. If I don’t stick to this, my son, who is actually an 80-year old stuck in the body of a 5-year old, would spend all day at the table eating breakfast.
Give them responsibility in doing their part of the routine.
Remember that routine they came up with? Let them do it (or not do) on their own. Guide them, of course, the first couple of days or weeks, but let them ‘own’ it.
I made a list of their ‘To Dos’ and laminated it so they can check it off as they go. Some folks make charts and have rewards. I’ve finally accepted that I love creating those systems much more than following through, so I don’t do them anymore. Basically, you have to get these done before you leave for school OR ELSE. And, since they’ve never questioned the ‘or else,’ I’m sticking with it.
Keep it simple…at first.
My kids are responsible for basic chores around the house. Each morning, they alternate emptying the dishwasher, clearing the table, and vacuuming under the table with a lightweight vacuum. But during the first week of school, I’ve dialed back the chores until we get in a solid routine of accomplishing the basics. If my guys can get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and put their shoes on, we’re off to a great start! Start with the essentials if you’re new to this.
Prep the night before (if that works for you).
All the gurus suggest that the morning routine hinges on the evening routine. And I admit, it would be glorious to wake up and have everything lined up for the morning. But if I’m being real, I am TIRED at the end of the day. The last thing I want to do is MAKE MORE FOOD (aka pack lunches). So, I often pack in the morning as I’m ‘delegating’ tasks to the team and watching said 5-year old take 30 minutes to eat a bowl of oatmeal.
Do what works for you. If you only have an hour in the morning before you have to head out with the kids in tow, it makes sense to pack lunches the night before. I can get by on just making sure clothes are picked out, which also gives them a little something extra to do in their room before coming out at 7:00 a.m.
Learn to become the most loving drill sergeant ever.
Because, let’s be honest, you will feel like one most days. If you’ve never had a morning routine, you will feel like you are herding cats and repeating the same words over and over. As frustrating as it can be, remind yourself that you are TEACHING your children the important life skill of independence. Keep your attitude and tone upbeat and positive and, likely, theirs will follow suit. Play music in the morning, sing songs, tell jokes and have fun with it. And, when you see them complete parts of their routine without your hounding them, be sure to love on them and celebrate them!
Regularly evaluate what’s working and what’s not.
Every few weeks, take a minute to evaluate if the morning routine is working for or against you. Feeling rushed? You’ll want to scale back on the number of tasks you’re trying to complete. Are the kiddos getting frustrated? Maybe they’ve been tasked with more than they’re able to handle at this particular stage. Do you have too much time leftover? Add in a fun activity, like a game, that everyone can look forward to.
Embrace that you are the ‘weather maker’ in your home and how you approach the morning often determines how everyone else does. Now….go wrangle the cats, mama!