Like many of you, weekday mornings are chaotic at best. I have 3 children, ages 2, 6, and 9. Many days no one wants to even get out of bed. Other days, everyone is up but arguments ensue about what to wear – shorts in 50 degree weather, horribly mismatched clothing, or my son who questions the necessity of underwear. Then there’s trouble deciding what to eat for breakfast, finding shoes, and “Oh, I forgot, can you sign this mommy?” all within the last 10 minutes before the mad dash out the door in the midst of praying that they don’t miss the bus. Every now and then we have a magical day where everyone wakes up happy rather than grumpy, clothes have been picked out the night before and they actually still want to wear them, baby girl does not pee in her panties right before we leave the house, and we have 5 – 10 minutes to spare. On those rare occasions, I actually get to work on time or even early! I have struggled to figure out what happens on those days when everything seems to align. And while I have not quite figured it out completely, I do know some strategies to implement that make the morning routine flow much more smoothly.
1) Get a good night’s sleep
Sleepy children make slow and grumpy children, so establish a bedtime routine that incorporates time to wind down for the evening along with a specific bedtime and stick to it.
2) Evening preparation
Check in with kiddos once everyone gets home from school so that all paperwork is signed, tomorrow’s lunch is planned, and afternoons snacks have been selected.
3) Power of choice
Check the day’s weather the night before then pick out 2 outfits and have your child choose between the 2. This bolsters their decision making skills and fosters a sense of independence for your children while reducing the risk of morning drama.
4) Lose the battle but win the war
Go ahead and let them wear mismatched socks or even mismatched shoes – they just need to have on a pair of socks and shoes. Focus on the big picture because, in the grand scheme of things, having clothes and shoes on is much more important than whether or not the clothing matches. My oldest daughter likes to remind me that “everything doesn’t have to match,” and my son insists that he “looks cool” wearing his socks pulled all the way up to his knees when he wears shorts. I admit they have an interesting sense of style and fashion, but all that truly matters is getting to school and work on time without any school dress code violations.
5) Create a “friendly” contest
Devise a challenge to see who can wake up the “fastest” and look the most presentable with clothes on, teeth brushed, and backpack organized and ready to go. The winner can pick dinner for the evening or earn another prize.
6) Simplify the routine
Place a dry erase board in a common area in the home that lists the mandatory steps – wash your face, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and retrieve your backpack and then out the door you go!