If you are like most people, mornings are not the happiest time of your day, especially if you have to get yourself and your children up, dressed, fed and out the door. However, I have found some great strategies that have completely transformed my mornings from total chaos into quality time with my children.
First, deal with backpacks, lunches, snacks and anything else that your child will need to remember for school the next day, while they are doing their homework. This is a great time-saver, because you are usually interacting with your child during this time anyway, they have their backpacks right there and they are more inclined to remember that they need a paper signed or any other school-related issues during this time. Then when the homework is done, have them pack up their backpacks and put them in a designated location, with their coat and anything else that has to leave the house with them.
Second, when you have your child take a bath or put on their pajamas, have them set out their school clothes for the following day, down to underwear, socks, shoes and any accessories, such as headbands or jewelry (if they wear it). This is a great time-saver because it cuts out a lot of nonsense time in the morning, especially if your children are fussy about what they wear or if they have a tendency to forget where they put their belongings.
Third, many of us really like to snooze, which can actually cut into your quality sleep time; however, if snoozing is your preference (as it is mine), set your alarm 15 to 20 minutes early, to build that snooze time into your routine. The important thing is to actually get out of bed at a reasonable time to get out the door on time, without being rushed. I would recommend getting up fifteen minutes to a half hour before you wake your children, depending on the time it takes you to get ready in the morning.
This also has the benefit of leading by example. When your children see you awake and almost ready to go before they even start on their routine, it will help to set the tone of the morning. You will be more pleasant by this point and it will have a hugely positive impact on the quality of your interactions.
Fourth, make sure your children know what is required of them in the morning, especially if they are still young. Make a list, with pictures (if necessary). Have the list include things such as brush teeth, wash face, get dressed, put on socks and shoes, make bed. During this time, while they are getting ready (or you are helping them with things they need help with) keep the conversation to a minimum. This has really worked for my kids who are very talkative. Too much talking is distracting in the morning, so we have a rule that if they have something cool they want to tell me that isn’t related to getting ready for school, they have to wait until they are finished and then we can talk at breakfast.
Fifth, make breakfast time the first morning deadline of your family’s day. This is hugely beneficial because it gives you a tiny buffer if things are running late, but it builds in quality time with your family to start your day off on the right foot. My children’s bus comes at 8:15am. I have my children come to the table by 8:00am. They must be completely ready for school and have their backpacks and coats set by the front door.
Then, we make and eat breakfast together and talk about our day. I find that my children are more talkative and open and pleasant at breakfast now then they are at dinner. We have all enjoyed our morning routine so much that my children are usually completely ready and at the table ten minutes earlier and I really feel it has increased the quality of my relationship with my children.