Parents, 4 Steps to Easier Mornings with Your Child

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!


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  • ChristineB says:

    Love your posts! Keep them coming!! :) oh, and I hope you get to the Amalfi coast very soon!

  • Gena says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I too wish I was in Italy!

  • Benedicte says:

    Oh, I actually thought you were in Italy all day, until I saw you at pick up. I have been walking around feeling so jelous because you were on the beach. So funny.

  • Swati says:

    LOL Benedicte!! Unfortunately I am here enjoying the mud colored snow with you!

  • Robin Arthur says:

    Oh my gosh. I wish I could forward this to some people I know without offending them! You know what I mean? :-)

  • Theo says:

    Take me with you when you go to “Italy” next time :). We do the same as you in no particular order;

    pre-pack lunches x

    layout clothes x

    sign agendas & respond to letters( if any), x

    look through homework x

    then place all bags by the door x

    Then you should hear the applause & high fives……deafening!

  • Saras says:

    Very useful post, I could sense your love for your kid in every word. God Bless.

  • Swati says:

    Theo – Great add about signing forms/permissions slips (actually that is what messed us up this past Friday…). I also love it that you celebrate with those deafening high fives.

    Saras – Thanks so much for reading between the lines. I’m happy to know it all comes through in my writing.

  • Great ideas…. I need to get my son to be responsible for getting himself ready. Half the time I just help him because it’s quicker… but thinking about responsibility and raising a functioning adult (LOL), I should probably get working on this one! 😉

  • mrsblogalot says:

    Swati-this was a great post for all parents (-:

    I’m going back to Italy now while everyone is still sleeping…my dream ended off in grape peeling (-:

  • Swati says:

    Los Angeles Single Mama: I help my daughter sometimes too because it’s faster…shhh…

    MrsBlogsalot: Grape peeling, Gelato whipping, pasta rolling….ahh, what a life…!


  • Bummer, you were not in Italy! Good tips though, especially preparing the night before. When I don’t do that it adds thirty minutes to my morning routine. How’s your little one?

  • Swati says:

    She’s great Kevin…doing all the things (plus some) that a strong-minded 8 year old likes to do…of late has decided to help make our mornings easier too (I really hope that lasts!) Just read about your teen last night…curious to hear more as my boyfriend has a teen daughter too!

  • Genny says:

    Following from MBC!

  • Susan says:

    love this post! agree completely on letting your kid be responsible. even for my toddler, i put her milk in the fridge, and in the morning she gets up and goes strait there without having to bother me.

    I’m defintely going to buy this chart! too cute!

  • Erin says:

    Swati – I love your post! (found it via Singlemommyhood) A nice piece of creative writing on top of practical suggestions that work. Mornings used to always be the toughest for me and my 8-year-old daughter (me yelling a lot, her ignoring a lot), until I started working a night shift. I sat down with her and told her what I needed her to help with in mornings if I was going to be able to earn more by working nights (from home fortunately). I pack most of her lunch and leave her a love note before I go to bed at 3:30 a.m., and she sets her own alarm, gets dressed, gets her own breakfast, and gets herself out the door to the busstop after hugging me, a groggy mommy, goodbye. Smooth as clockwork. I realized how much I was contributing to our morning struggles, and when she was given the freedom and expectation to do it all on her own, she rose to the occasion.

  • Swati says:

    Hi Erin:
    WOW! I am always impressed by what kids can and will do once we take the time to explain our reasoning to them…your daughter has really stepped up and you are both SO lucky to have each other. What a great team! Thank you so much for sharing this story – it’s so uplifting.

  • Joanna says:

    Great tips! Not sure I can do the responsibility chart yet with my 2 1/2 year old though. Or can I…? It’s hard enough to be a working mom; and I can’t imagine how single moms do it. I have great respect for you. Cheers.

  • HI LADY! Good to see u…..
    I love #4. I am working on that one….ACCEPT IMPERFECTION and not worry about performance…

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