I am in Italy, lying on a black rock beach in Amalfi. Golden sunshine envelops me warmly and a perfectly synchronized sea breeze cools me. Beautiful music floats in and out from a distance. The gorgeous, caramel voices of my fellow Italian beach-goers fill my ears. I am about to take a sip of my Limoncello when an annoying buzzing starts up; it’s incessant, too loud. It’s not a mosquito. It won’t stop. I stir. I open an eye. I am not in Italy, in the Amalfi coast. I am in Chicago and it’s zero degrees outside. That’s my alarm clock buzzing away. I have to start my day. Grrrr. And I have to get myself and my daughter out the door in an hour and a half so we can start our respective days.
Will this morning bring pleading from her for five more minutes in bed? Refusal to eat breakfast? A lazy denial of the need to get dressed? ARGH! I want to snooze too. Now, I could start my morning routine at 3:00am every day and hope to get it all done…but I happen to be one of those people who need sleep. So, I’d rather try to make the morning run better. Here are some things we’ve done in that vein (though we aren’t completely there yet…so I look forward to hearing anything you do at your house).
1) Let your kids be responsible: Sit with your child and explain that he or she is responsible for getting ready on time. Explain that it’s important to get to school and work on time, and it’s not nice to keep people waiting. Attach something your child values to his or her change in behavior. Money? Extra TV time on the weekend? The ability to pick a game you will play with him/her for twenty minutes that evening? We have the Melissa and Doug Responsibility Chart with magnets. Every magnet earned means a dime at the end of the week for my daughter. Her highest week was $3.80 – not coincidentally, it was also one of the best weeks I’ve ever had! (Chart pictured below).
2) Pre-pack everything you can the night before and put it by the door: I can’t say enough about this one. Pack up your laptop, put your wallet or purse near the door. Make sure your child has packed his or her backpack and put it by the door too. We also try to put the next day’s shoes by the door when we’re totally in the groove…but now I’m just bragging.
3) Applaud the successes: Though the magnets work in my house, they are no replacement for pats on the back and verbal praise. Take a few minutes to tell your child how proud you are of them, and point out that it’s so pleasant to have had a morning when you are both out the door on time. Your child will feel better too.
4) Know it’ll never be perfect: Have you noticed how this makes most of my lists? Don’t pressure yourself to be black-and-white on this, parents…some mornings will work and others just won’t. It’s ok. I’ve been known to hug and smooch my little moose even on the days when she’s been a stinky-head :-).
Have a super morning tomorrow!