Getting kids up and ready in the mornings can be a real struggle. Some kids bounce out of bed as happy as clams, others need to be dragged out of bed kicking and screaming, others will then practically sleepwalk through their morning routines, zombie-mode!
If your child fits in the “jumps out of bed, gets ready in a flash, chomps down their breakfast without a complaint” category, then stop reading, you’re got this (but give us your address so we can send our kids to you each morning). If that doesn’t describe your morning scenario, then not to worry, read on, we’ve got you!
It’s important that everyone starts their day off right – calm, happy and preferably, on time. The way we start our mornings can really set the tone for the rest of the day. Grumpy, stressed-out kiddos don’t make for calm, well-behaved students, and we all know that a grumpy, stressed-out parent is one to avoid at all costs.
So, if you’re wanting to inject a bit of calm and serenity in the morning, try to establish a routine.
As boring and restrictive as that may sound, routines are an important way to manage expectations. They help children anticipate what’ll happen next and gives them confidence and a sense of control as they navigate their way through the tasks. It also keeps everyone on track and hopefully will reduce tension and unnecessary delays in the morning.
What’s the key to a good morning routine for kids?
Keeping It Simple
Keep your routine simple and manageable. If your child takes 45 minutes from wake-up to shoes-on-ready-to-leave, then give them (at least) 45 minutes, not 30. If getting everyone up 15 minutes earlier leads to a calmer and more successful start to the morning, then it’s worth it!
Meet Your Child Where They're At
Every kiddo has their strengths and weaknesses – know what your kids struggle with or don’t like doing and set them up for success by helping them navigating through those tasks. It's ok if they haven't mastered their zipper or buttons yet, or are struggling with their shoelaces - practice those things after school or on weekends instead when they won't need to feel pressured to get it done quickly.
Identify Problem Areas - Offer Solutions
Identify the issue and figure out the best way to solve it. If your kid takes forever to select a pair of pants and a top, eliminate that problem by encouraging them to choose it the night before, when they can take their time without the pressure of a ticking clock. If getting out of bed is an issue, trying to wake them up earlier to give them more time to awaken their senses up and get up. Maybe breakfast is a struggle? Perhaps your kiddo eats like a snail or fusses about the menu on offer? With a little planning and creativity, there’s usually a workaround for most issues. A promise that they can play with their toys for 10 minutes before school if they eat their breakfast. A fun race to see who can get dressed fastest. A sticker for every child who packs their backpack.
Make It Clear
Don't assume your child knows what you mean when you say "get ready". Let them know that that means teeth brushed, hair brushed, clothes on, shoes on, etc... They're only little and get distracted easily. Try helping them by working with them to develop a morning routine that they can then easily follow. A morning routine could look something like this:
Most importantly, see what works well for your child – what motivates them and what helps them stay on track or remember what they need to do. We can’t expect little ones to appreciate the inflexibility of time - that an extra 5 minutes here and there adds up and leads to us being stuck in traffic or being late for work, so help them get organized by laying out exactly what needs to be done and when. Set them up with good habits now, and they'll reap the benefits as they get older!