Monday, October 20, 2014

day 20: developing a morning routine...

One way I've found to reduce the amount of stress in our days, and more specifically our mornings, is to write out a morning routine.  These are not complex schedules but rather the steps that the boys need to follow to get ready for school.  For example, the boys wrote up the following morning routine;

1. get up
2. get dressed
3. eat breakfast
4. brush teeth and comb hair
5. put on socks and shoes
6. pack school bag
7. play time

I type the lists up and post them in our kitchen on our pantry door.  When my kids were little, I took pictures of them performing each step in our routine and posted them on a piece of poster board.  I also wrote out the steps even though they couldn't read, since I think it's never too early to expose kids to learning letters and words.

I've been having my boys help me write out the steps of their morning routine for three years now and I like this practice for two main reasons, 

1) It helps them learn how to organize and plan their time.  This is something that is intuitive for some people and not for others.  So it is a really valuable skill to teach your children.  Also, as they get older I'm hoping will translate into their school work and other areas of their lives. 

2) I have found that it cuts down on my yelling in the morning and the boys whining if we have written routines of what they are supposed to do. Now all I have to do is say, 'What should you do next?' and they look at the sheet and do it.  They also know what time we need to be in the car to leave for school, so if they want play time they learn not to fool around and just get their tasks done.

I have also found a few other 'rules' helpful towards reducing stress in our mornings.

We also have an absolute rule of no screen time in the morning.  None.  At all.  This is not something they are thrilled with but they accept it.  In fact, we made a rule change this year and only allow screen time on the weekends for our boys.  No exceptions. 

We also have the kids pick out the clothes they want to wear to school the night before.  My boys are pretty easy in terms of clothes.  One cares a great deal and the other doesn't.  So for the one that cares, it helps to have him pick out his outfit so we know his first choice is clean.  I also check the calendar for spirit days and other days when they have to wear special clothing. You only have to miss pj day once to know that this is a mistake kids don't forget.

If you find yourself continually stressed in the morning trying to get yourself or kids out the door, try writing up a morning routine.  I think the discipline of doing this will add more order to your morning and thereby reduce your daily stress.

Even though this picture has nothing to do with this post, I had to show you Grace playing soccer with John.  This picture makes me smile for SO many reasons but mainly because Grace initiated the play and her brother stopped his game of soccer to help her kick the ball.  They played together for about 20 minutes.  He was so happy that she actually participated in something.  I've posted a video of her kicking the ball around our circle on my instagram account.  You can see it here.  

What do you do in the morning to help reduce the stress associated with getting out the door?  Do you have a morning routine?


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