Published on March 11, 2015—  Leave a comment

5 Ways to Master the Morning

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Getting everyone out the door with everything they need in the morning is one of parenting’s greatest struggles. While you’re trying to shower and get ready for work, your kids are refusing to get out of bed, haven’t packed their backpacks, and are waving brand-new permission slips in your face—sometimes all at the same time. We’ve all been there, but it doesn’t have to be this way. With some ground rules and consistency, it’s possible to make your mornings relatively hassle-free. Here are our favorite tips for mastering the morning.
Make nighttime prep part of your routine. Everyone’s tired in the evening, but if you can carve out five minutes on school nights to ensure everything’s ship-shape, you’ll save yourself a lot of time the next day. Do a backpack check between brushing teeth and storytime, assemble the foundations of lunches, or even get a little bit of breakfast prep done—if your kids eat cereal, for example, you can pre-portion a couple of bowls and two small cups of milk for pouring and leave them on the bottom level of the fridge, allowing them to “make their own” breakfast while you shower or check emails.
Design your kitchen with mornings in mind. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and usually where most kid-centric battles (drink your juice! where’s your backpack?) end up taking place. So turn it into the command center that it is. A few suggestions: Have several clocks in the room (maybe one wall clock and a couple of digital ones scattered around) so everyone knows exactly what time it is. Create a specific tray for permission slips, checks, and other sign-off material—if it isn’t filed by the night before, it’s not going to school the next day. Make a backpack area, where all jackets and schoolbooks have to be deposited for packing. And to make things fun, maybe add some speakers, to play a cheerful, get-up-and-go playlist as you go about your morning.
Encourage responsibility. When your kids grow up, they’ll have to be capable of waking themselves up, which means using an alarm clock. Get school-age kids in the habit now by teaching them to set and use their own alarm clock, including picking the time they think is best for getting up. They’ll quickly learn that setting the right alarm is the difference that allows them to wear just the right outfit and get that second helping of eggs. (And resist the temptation to check in on them after two minutes—it’s a lesson they need to learn for themselves.)
When in doubt, subtle bribery works. If you have a recalcitrant kid who just can’t seem to get it together, a little bit of parental bribery can go a long way. Set a designated time by which kids have to be 100% ready (with shoes and jacket on and backpack packed), and make it five minutes before you actually need to walk out the door. If they hit the mark, they get something desirable, whether it’s five minutes of iPad time or a mini-chocolate included in their packed lunch.
Allow for “freebie” days. Part of carving out an ironclad morning routine is showing that you don’t always have to be a robot. On weekends or school holidays, allowing kids to get up when they want and making a slower, special breakfast reinforces the idea that school and work require one set of behavior, but everyone gets time to relax. It’s the spoonful of sugar that’ll make the morning medicine go down.
What’s your best tip for mastering the morning? Let us know in the comments.