Mornings can be hectic when little people are involved. Getting them up, dressed, getting yourself dressed, everyone fed, cleaned up, shoes on, backpacks & diaper bags gathered, among other things that need accomplished before heading out the door. And it’s not fun for anyone to leave the house in a hurried, frazzled state. So I’ve come up with a few tips that have been helpful in getting my family out the door on time each morning.
- I’m going with the most obvious one first- Get up earlier. If you’re not a morning person I can understand this one is going to be tough for you, at least for a few weeks until your body adjusts. Getting up just thirty minutes earlier can do wonders for a morning routine. It might be that getting up earlier allows you time to get a quick shower and a head-start on getting yourself dressed before the kids wake up.
- Plan ahead starting the evening before. Planning ahead eliminates a lot of rushing around which can really eat up your time in the mornings. To plan ahead in our home, I lay out each child’s clothing for the next day (mine included), have a plan for breakfast (and preparation done if necessary),lunches prepared, book & diaper bags are packed and ready to go as well as anything else (such as the grocery list & coupons if I’m heading to the store after drop-offs). We’ve found that a weeklong clothing organizer is helpful when it comes to getting the kids dressed each morning, particularly my school-ager.
- Enlist the kids’ help & delegate responsibilities. Kids are capable, most of the time willing & even eager to help out and have their own responsibilities. Being clear in what we expect of them and giving age-appropriate tasks can empower our kids to be independent. Taking the time to teach them to help versus doing it ourselves because “it’s easier” will only serve to not only benefit them, but also us in our morning routines (and other times too!). Kids as young as 2 can and should have responsibilities. Our two-year-old son helps with bringing his sippy cup and plate to the kitchen after meal times, puts dirty clothes in the laundry basket, assists with toy cleanup and is learning to undress himself. He’s learned the morning routine and his part in it. These are just a few examples of things a very young child can do. Older kids (around 4 and up) are usually capable of getting themselves dressed, helping clear the table after meals, feeding the pet, assisting with a younger sibling, etc. You know your child best, so talk about teamwork with your child and agree on ways your kiddo can help out in the mornings.
- Eliminate idle time. In my house idle time usually ends up in trouble. While I’m all for free-play, sometimes mornings just require more structure than other times of the day. If you have somewhere to be (school, work, an appointment, etc.) then arriving on-time is important if not required. Have a plan in the mornings to keep everyone busy in-between getting dressed, eating and heading out the door. This is when I’m thankful for PBS Kids, Disney Jr. & Nick Jr. Cartoons never killed anyone and sometimes momma’s sanity is more important than what the American Academy of Pediatrics says is best. Do what’s best for your family, and if it’s two episodes of Dora the Explorer so that you can get ready for work and leave with two matching shoes on then so be it!
- Allow for the unexpected. Things are going to happen that can throw you off schedule. In my house it usually involves poop. For some reason everyone needs to poop right before we go somewhere. Or a spill happens. Or someone hits someone else and there’s lots of crying and throwing of oneself on the floor. It’s going to happen. So prepare for the unexpected and don’t be surprised when right as you’re walking out the door your school-ager remembers that he has to bring a certain something to school that day because the teacher said so. In preparing for the unexpected, tip #1 is helpful (just thirty minutes earlier!). Image below: Taken a few months ago after my two-year-old decided to get into the sugar bowl while I was drying my hair!
- Last and certainly not least… take some deep breaths, pray for your day and smile. Choose joy each and every morning, even in the chaos. Even when you oversleep and feel rushed…choose joy. Even when the baby has a blow-out right before it’s time to leave…choose joy. Even when you get in the car and realize your gas light is on…choose joy. Our children are watching us. They are learning from us. Mornings don’t have to be a big ugly thing. They are a reminder that God loves us enough to give us another day, fresh with new mercies and a chance to love Him and others.