Rise and Shine Sleepy Heads: Getting Your Kids Up and Out the Door
Whether they’re going to school, church or a pre-planned morning activity on a Saturday, it can be quite challenging to get the kids up, fed, dressed, and out the door on time — unless it’s an activity they are really looking forward to. This is especially true of younger children, who tend to be whiny and very sluggish in the mornings.
Before school started this year, I knew I had to figure out a way to get the kids up and out the door on time. My oldest was starting first grade, so he was used to a school morning routine from Kindergarten last year. My second child was starting Pre-K, and therefore this would be her first time going to school. Not to mention that getting a boy ready to go anywhere is so much easier and less involved than getting a girl ready.
If you are like me and have more than one child to get ready in the mornings, let me offer some advice. The best thing to do is come up with a schedule or plan of action. After all, both the bus and the school have schedules they adhere to regardless of whether your child is ready on time or not.
First of all, it helps to list out what needs to be done between the time everyone wakes up and the time they need to be out the door. Determine if there are things that can be done the night before, like choosing and preparing clothes. Then figure out approximately how much time will be needed or allowed for each thing. Be sure to take into account slow moving, sleepy kiddos.
Also, try to avoid as many distractions, for you and your children, as possible. The TV, for example, can cause any task to take twice as long. Therefore, it might be a good idea to keep that off until everything is done, and if there is a few minutes to spare before it is time to leave. The next thing is to determine what is the best order things should be done in. For example, messy eaters should probably eat breakfast before they get dressed.
Once you’ve determined the new morning routine, you should communicate it to all parties involved in or affected by it. Make sure they understand the routine and when it will be implemented. It also does not hurt to post it somewhere very visible to everyone.
For those families with younger children, repetition is key. With my children, I not only sat them down and told them what the new morning routine was going to be, I had them repeat it a few times with me. Then I physically walked them through it while acting out each piece and asking questions like “Okay, so first thing we are going to do every morning is what?”, “What do we do after we eat breakfast?”, and “Where do we go next?” That made the plan visual as well as verbal, and the kids really liked it because it became more like a game.
Once the routine is communicated and understood, it is time to implement it. If it is a brand new schedule, and/or you have younger children, it is advisable to have a day or two of practice. This helps everyone get used to the plan and make any necessary adjustments before there is pressure to really get it right. As with any kind of schedule or plan, especially those involving children, communication, organization, and preparation are required for a smooth transition and execution.