I think it’s fair to say that as a parent, the morning routine is one of the most complex and craziest times of our day. It can be much like a game of Russian Roulette in our home. I never quite know which one will explode on me, but you can be assured that one of them will always put on a fine and somewhat entertaining show.
There have been moments where I have just threatened to pop myself back into bed and pretend the day had never started.
So what have I done to combat and eliminate the madness and utter chaos that can set the mood for my entire day???
Ahhhhh…… My precious Morning routine.
Ok, dont be misguided in thinking that this routine came along and changed my world over night. Not true, however, after a couple of months of perservering and constant reminders, both visual and verbal, our mornings have become a much more relaxed part of our day. Infact I have recently tweaked the routine once again and it has been working a treat since school has been back this year. It is a constantly changing arrangement that has to fit in with your lifestyle, family and time frame. So heres how I started….
Visual printouts – This was the very first step in getting them used to the idea that things we going to change. These were especially great for the younger kids as they could not yet read.I had 5 A4 printouts that I had made up using word on the computer and inserting basic clip art images. They read:
1. Toilet – picture of a toilet
2. Breakfast – picture of a bowl of cereal
3. Get Dressed – Picture of clothes
4. Brush Teeth – Picture of a toothbrush and paste
5. Make your bed – Picture of a made bed
During dinner one night we discussed these new pictures and I asked the children what order they thought they should go in. (Obviously coercing them into a desired order) They felt involved with the new routine and were very excited to try it out the next morning. The visual printouts worked well as I could always tell them to go and look at the charts in the hallway, and they would often remind each other of what task needed doing next. Ahhhh SUCCESS!!
Success lasted a couple of months then enthusiasm began to fade for the picture charts and they began to slip back into their old ways. It was becoming clearer and clearer that they all needed a refresher…
So began phase 2….
The introduction of a TIMER…… 🙂
(These can be purchased quite cheaply at places like Aldi / The Reject Shop, although I have even used the alarm on my mobile phone before and it works just the same.)
Now for this version of the routine, I typed out a list of tasks that I wanted done and put a time limit on how long the children had to complete each task. Oh how little ones just adore games….. BEAT THE BUZZER!!!
So my list went a little something like this:
Eat Breakfast – 15mins
Get dressed – 15mins
Brush Teeth – 5mins
Have hair done – 10mins
Pack Bags & Put in car – 5mins
I was quite generous with times to begin with, knowing that one child in particular is always super slow to get moving of a morning. I then also added a sticker chart. If you completed your task before the buzzer went off you got a sticker. We did this for around a month, until I ran out of stickers. By this stage the children already knew what was expected of them and eventually we were able to eliminate the buzzer all together.
Recently I have reordered our routine and added a couple of tasks and the children have adapted with no problems at all. I now get them to get dressed first, as I found a couple of them ate their breakfast better after being up for a little while. On days where I am worried about them spoiling their uniforms, I ask them to pop on an old art smock or tea towel whilst eating to protect their clothes from spills etc… They are now also asked to fold their pyjamas and put them on their beds, tidy any toys they have left out and collect all their breakfast dishes and bring them to the sink. It takes time, but believe me it can happen!!!
Key points to remember:
1. Discuss any major change with the children the night before. This allows them time to process what you’re saying to them and to think about what’s expected of them.
2. Persevere…. Even if you have a terrible morning where nothing seems to go right, keep at it. Tomorrow is a new day.
3. Eliminate distractions. A child will struggle to complete any given task in a time frame if the TV is switched on – so keep it off until everyone is ready.
4. Don’t be afraid to fiddle with the routine until it works just right for you. 🙂
5. Do give yourself a pat on the back when things go to plan. Wether you are organising 5 little people or 2 little people, getting them out the door on time is a massive achievement!!!
6. Remember, it takes around 3-4 weeks to develop a habit, so don’t expect miracles over night.
So from here I wish you Good Luck. May your mornings be filled with good willed, approachable, compliant and behaved kiddies!
I would really love to hear from anyone out there that has decided to give a ‘Morning Routine’ a try!