FIGHTING THE MORNING ROUTINE
I’ll admit it! I am perpetually late to lots of things! Dropping the kids to school on time proves to be my family's biggest challenge! Though it is often only a 3 to 10 minute delay, it is still not a great example for my children. Their school sends a letter when a child has 6 or more "tardies" in a month. We received three this school year!
Personally, I am not proud of this situation, but it always seems like someone has to use the toilet as soon as we need to leave the house. Every. Single. Morning. That’s not something you can build-in time for, because you know--when you gotta go, you gotta go!
On the way to school, my kids (8, 5, and 2 and a half) and I, often talk about the many details we need to work on, like delays in brushing of teeth, requests for more breakfast as we are walking out the door, not being fully dressed with shoes on in time-- the list goes on and on. Even with two weeks left of school, we are still working on these "little issues"daily. No matter how many children you have, the morning routine is downright hard.
Running on time in the morning requires a mix of many different virtues, like orderliness, helpfulness, and cheerfulness.
Hallmarks of orderliness are doing the things one should do, when and how they should be done. This brings about a sense of harmony. In an organized life, you know where things are when you need them and time is managed thoughtfully and well. Order in our external environment creates order within us. An ordered life fosters peace of mind.
A big step toward orderliness in my home, that greatly affects the morning routine is setting my kids’ clothes out beside their bed and making their lunches the night before. When those two things are in place, the day just starts off on the right foot.
Of course, orderliness is not so easily executed without helpfulness. Helpfulness is being of service to others and doing thoughtful things that make a difference in the lives of others. This includes initiation-- the offering of help without waiting to be asked.
We all need to ask for help at times that may mean accepting a child's best effort though we could do the job better ourselves! When we help each other, we get more done. This collaboration makes life easier and builds lots of other virtues!
In an effort to teach my kids helpfulness and because there is a learning curve when grasping time management, I have created a time chart with a task list for the morning routine. I can refer to it when we are off schedule for example, pointing out at 7:25 we need to be brushing our teeth, not asking for more breakfast. When my kids are on task, I can affirm that they are being helpful with our schedule.
Cheerfulness is one of the hardest virtues for me and I find it challenging to be good natured, courteous and kind with my children when we are running behind yet another time. Yelling isn't constructive, and I am not proud of the fact that I occasionally resort to this behavior. I often find myself reflecting, “this is not a great example of cheerfulness--snap out of it!” It is not surprising that my 8 year old mirrors my attitude, especially if I've been grumpy and sarcastic. I am striving for more peaceful, organized, and cheerful mornings in our home.
Peace of mind is important to me as I drop my kids off at school. I do not like leaving them riled up, anxious, and late for class. I desire that our conversation be light and peaceful--which helps us all look forward to the day. Often I'll ask them to share something they are grateful for or to offer their siblings one kind compliment before we say our goodbyes and they exit the car. This trip to school may provide the only “quality” time that I will have to talk with them for the entire day. I try not to be on my phone so as to give them full attention. I definitely have a no TV rule in our car in the morning. It is important that children learn how to engage with others, and I feel that the morning ride to school is a wonderful time to practice that.
Find what works best for you! Reflect on the dynamics of your situation and identify what will work and what won't. It helps to make incremental changes with kids until habits are instilled. For me I've learned that orderliness in the morning begins the night before by making lunches and avoiding my vice, which is TV and staying up late surfing the Internet. Cheerfulness and peacefulness towards my kids is helped by waking up 20-30 minutes before my kiddos get out of bed to make sure I’ve started breakfast and gathered last minute lunch items before additional unplanned requests begin. Having written expectations so the kids know what to do is helpful for them and if you are lucky enough to have the help of your spouse in the morning, that’s a blessing and can be a great example for your kids as well. By everyone working together, morning can go smoother, and everyone starts the day off on the right foot! As summer quickly approaches, and order brings peace of mind and harmony to your home, the sunshine of cheery disposition will brighten your family's life also!