Is your house a madness in the morning and you feel like you are fighting bedtime battles every day? You are not alone. Children have amazing tactics to stall getting out of the house or going to bed on time.
Rushing out of the house in the morning, juggling after school activities, meals and homework in the evening can lead to stress and exhaustion that can be harmful to both your child’s and your health.
Try these time-saving and stress-reducing morning tricks to enjoy a happier day.
1. Calculate time backward.
This tactic works every time we have to go somewhere: school, sports activities, to grandma’s house or to bed at night.
I always count how long each activity takes, and on busy weekends I write it down, backward from when you need to exit the house. If you allow yourself enough time for each activity, you can get to the starting time.
For example, if you know that you have to be driving at 7.30 am, make sure to give your family 10 minutes to put shoes and jackets on. Yep, that is how long it can take! Calculate time for bathroom, breakfast, getting snacks and lunch ready, getting dressed and snoozing in bed. For my children, all this takes an hour and 15 minutes. If they get ready sooner (very rarely) then they get the incentive of either shooting hoops outside or watching CNN 10 on my laptop.
2. Wake up your kids and yourself just a smidge earlier than you planned.
Just to make sure you will not lose patience throughout the morning crazy it’s a good idea to wake up a slightly bit earlier than you think. I always get up at least an hour earlier before my kids so I can drink my Dandy Blend (dandelion beverage) in peace, exercise for 15 minutes and get myself ready. It is so nice that I can pay all my attention to my children when they get up and I can nudge them about one hundred times to get going. There are days when they got the routine down and they have great flow on their own. Then they are surprised to have additional time for reading a book or play with some toys.
3. Is it hard to wake up? Try it with a twist.
· Turn on the lights or open the curtains to get the sunshine in. Open the window if the weather is nice.
· Tell them about the awesome breakfast you made. Waffles are always a big hit to get them out of bed fast.
· Turn on your diffuser with lemon and peppermint essential oils or lime and rosemary essential oils. Have you tried grapefruit essential oil? It’s very refreshing in the morning.
· I add a couple of drops of orange essential oil to my non-scented lotion so my boys can smell the fresh aroma of oranges when I wake them up.
· Turn on AC/DC or Metallica a slightly bit louder than normal. They might cover their ears with the pillow first but eventually, they come out to give it a thumbs up or down on my phone.
4. Plan your outfits
Decisions, decisions. What to wear? Have a space in your kid’s closet where they can easily pick out an outfit. Or plan the outfits on Sundays if making choices is difficult in the morning. (That is me, not my boys.) And smile if they come out dressed up in interesting colors. You are just jealous. You cannot get away with that at work. When the season changes, weed out the seasonal stuff so they will not end up wearing shorts for the snow. Yes, that happened in our house.
5. Calculate in enough time for mystery ailments.
Does your child have a sudden headache, stomachache, leg-ache … or whatever ache? He might be truly sick, but he might just be anxious. You want to pay attention to your child and sit down to listen to his concerns. You can gently ask your child if something or someone is upsetting him at school. Talk to your child calmly. Which can be very hard when you are stressed out on loosing ten precious minutes from the morning routine. That is why considering getting ready before your child wakes up can give you the ability to focus on your child’s needs. If everything goes smooth, your child can have an extra 10 minutes to play with Legos and you can finish the dishes. Yay.
6. Enjoy breakfast together.
This is chatter time with your kiddos. They are, for some reason, very talkative at the breakfast table. I noticed this when I used to try putting lunches together and try to get ready running around the house. I used to get irritated because their chatter made me forget what I was about to do. Sound familiar? But just waking up a bit earlier, I can enjoy chatting with my boys in the morning. Bonus: you can get all the good info that they would not tell you after school; “How was school?” “Boring”.
7. Alternate bathroom time and packing lunch between your kiddos.
If have more than one child have one of your kiddos hit the bathroom while the other is packing snacks and lunch. Then switch. If they both go towards the bathroom at the same time it turns into a long chat about something super important or turns into a fight.
8. Encourage your kids to pack their lunches and snacks.
It not only saves you time, but it also encourages them to be more independent. You can come up with rules like, they have to pack some fruit and crackers or some veggies and a granola bar, or trail mix.
Added bonus: they will probably eat what they packed.
Cool tip: do not buy food items that you do not want to see in your kiddo’s lunch box.
Create a space in your cabinet for school snacks and put several boxes of chopped up fruits and veggies in the fridge so even the littlest ones can pack their own snacks.
9. Prepare snacks and lunches ahead of time.
Wash, slice, dice and cut up fruits and veggies on Sundays while you are listening to your favorite podcast. Or if you have older kids, you can do it together and have a fun time while chatting.
Line the glass or plastic dishes with a single sheet of paper towel, it will not only absorb the moisture and will help the produce last longer, but it also puts a layer between the plastic and your veggies.
When cooking, make a double portion. You can reuse the leftovers the next day in a different dish. (For example, the roasted chicken one day, can be used in tacos or soup the next day) I also like to freeze some dishes, so I can pull it out on those days when there is no time to cook (rice, meat, and stews freeze well). Having half the prep work done and cook in advance can save you serious time.
10. Count in 10 minutes to put on shoes and jackets.
Yep. 10 minutes! I am not joking! Have a launching pad in your house, either a mudroom or entryway or their closet where they always keep their shoes and jackets whenever they go in or out of the house. Non-negotiable. It cuts down time on hunting for mismatched pairs of shoes or that particular blue jacket with the logo because that is the I-must-wear-this-jacket-today! Did you notice that they always want to wear the stuff that is not there? Cool tip: check the school’s lost and found.
We always think about the morning as chaos. But it does not have to be that way. When you give yourself enough time for everything, mornings can be a great time to enjoy each other’s company. Notice the small pleasures whether it’s the sleepy hairdo or their crankiness that turns into a smile or that excitement in their eyes when they are telling you a funny story.
You can also reconsider how you view a situation: instead of” why does it take so long to tie those shoes?”, think “how amazing it is that he can tie his owns shoes”!
Being positive will set the tone for the day!
I would love to hear from you, what morning and afternoon hacks do you have that makes your life so much easier! Click my contact link. I would love to share your cool tricks in my next newsletter so we can all try something new and interesting that will help us manage our crazy mornings and even busier afternoons. Please let me know if you are okay with me to share your ideas in my next newsletter and blog and whether I can use your first name or not.
Contact me if you have any questions or need help with creating daily routines for your family.