You’re completely frazzled and rushing around the house. School starts in 30 minutes!
You call up the steps but you’re not even sure your kids are out of bed yet, let alone dressed.
You’re trying to get it all done. Make breakfast, sign all the paperwork/homework, pack lunches, and find that darn missing shoe. You can’t focus on one thing because it’s all coming at you at once.
The kids finally come into the kitchen and you run through your list of questions:
Is your bag packed?
Did you brush your teeth?
Do you have everything you need?
Do I need to sign anything for you?
Then, you find out one of them has a project due today that you didn’t even know about!
“We’re going to be late again!” you say, feeling defeated.
(Then, when you get home from drop-off you find their rooms a mess and the beds not made – things have GOT to change!)
Does this sound familiar to you?
These types of chaotic mornings totally sound familiar to me. When my kids were younger, we’d have to leave the house at 6:45 AM so that I could drop them off at 7 AM to make it into work on time. That morning rush was our normal routine, until one day when I got completely fed up with it.
I knew I had to do something about it.
Structuring a Stress Free Morning Routine
If these chaotic mornings are something that you’re struggling with, it is so possible to flip the script and have really nice mornings. Our mornings aren’t 100% perfect every single day, but most days now, my kids wake up, get dressed, brush their teeth, make their bed, go downstairs, empty the dishwasher, eat breakfast, and even some days, pack their own lunches. They are ready to head out the door on time! This is now their routine and what they are used to doing every morning.
It can be the norm in your house, as well. As long as you set up the routine and create a habit, it is possible.
Now, this shift didn’t happen overnight. We had to work up to this level of independence in each of our kids.
But, it’s wonderful.
Sometimes when I wake up, I come downstairs and it’s all done. All I have to do is double check everything and then we’re out the door.
What Needs to Happen
We’ve used every tool and chart under the sun. Some are really good, but they aren’t going to solve the problem. First, you need to have a solid routine to build on or it won’t work.
What actually worked for us was setting the routine with our kids and helping them stay focused. We did this by starting small-scale and working up to a full routine.
We started with a smaller routine with tasks that were age appropriate and easy for them to handle. It looked like this:
Brush your teeth
Make your bed
As they got that initial routine under control and as they got older and could shoulder more responsibility, we started to add things to the routine until we got to where we are now.
The Key to the New Routine
For our family, the key to this new routine working was empowering our kids to take charge of their wake-up instead of depending on mom to wake them up. We did this by providing them each with an alarm clock. We don’t do screens in their bedrooms, so we went with old school alarm clocks.
Then, we let them determine their wake-up time. We did this by giving them a time that they had to be downstairs and ready to go to school. Then, we worked backwards based on how long each task in the routine would take them.
Get A Head Start on Things
The other change in our morning routine that made the biggest difference in getting out the door on time was setting up as much as we could the night before. We began to discuss and set up lots of things the night before. We’re talking backpack packed up, lunches packed, clothing picked out, and even deciding what we’d have for breakfast. All planned out for the next morning before we even went to bed. That way, we didn’t spend time on the morning being indecisive.
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Are there any moms out there that knows the secret to having the perfect mornings because I can always use as many different tools in my tool belt as possible. As some of you may already know, a strategy of handling a specific situation will not work every single time so it’s helpful to learn multiple ways.
Being able to send my kids off to school in the mornings with everyone in a happy, positive mood is what I strive for and is what sets the tone for the rest of my day.
I love the mornings when my kids are smiling, getting along with each other and not bickering at each other every 5 seconds. When that happens, it usually means I can get them to school on time and we’re not rushing.
It also means this mom is in a much happier mood and allows me to be more mentally ready to tackle all the things on my to do list for the day. I don’t know about you but when I’m in a good mood, my thoughts are clear and I really do feel like I can take on the world.
These are the kind of mornings that I would like to have more of:
My kids get up on their own, brush their teeth and get dressed without a word. I hear them laughing and joking around with each other.
They come downstairs and my daughter pours herself a cup of milk and asks her brother if he would like a cup, and continues on to pour a cup for her brother. They eat breakfast and continue to smile and laugh with one another. They are being so nice to each other. Wait? “Is this really happening,” I think to myself?
Image by Hal Gatewood via Unsplash
I make a comment about how wonderful their behavior is and they both just smile and grin from ear to ear because they know they are being good.
So they hold on to that feeling of proudness and take it even a step further by finishing up their food without being reminded. I don’t hear a peep of snide remarks or bickering at all. I think to myself, “awww, they really do love each other”.
I haven’t had to break up an argument or nag at them or even raise my voice to get them to calm down.
On the way to school, we’re smiling and laughing. Singing along to the songs on the radio. We’re ALL in a happy mood. It’s so amazing. Love those days!
But of course, with kids being kids, most mornings don’t usually look like that. Not even close.
So what does a typical morning look like for me? I’ve heard some experts say that it’s not good to rush your kids in the mornings, but how can you not? They would be piling on the late school slips if there wasn’t some degree of urgency.
Not a morning goes by when I don’t hear my daughter saying to her younger brother, “Stop!!” or “I’m telling mom” or my son having a meltdown because after the 10th time of his sister yelling stop, I had to step in to give him my peace of mind.
Then comes the morning rush hour where I’m pushing to get lunch packed, jackets on, backpacks on, shoes on, so we can get out the door and be dropped off at school on time. This typically goes with me saying all of these statements at some point:
“ok you got 10 minutes before we have to leave”.
“Preston, you haven’t even eaten anything on your plate yet!”.
“Put your lunches in your bag and lets get ready to go”.
“What do you mean you don’t know where your jacket is?”
“Why did you not give me this paper to sign yesterday?”
“Let’s go, it’s time to go!”
“If you don’t get your shoes on this minute, we are going to be late”
“Come on, let’s go, inside the car”
Days like this, I just want to pull my hair out and in my head, have thoughts of all these different plans that needs to be put into place the very next day because dealing with this every morning is getting oh so tiring.
Image by composite via Pixaba
Then there are those days where everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. You drop your kids off at school only to find out they forgot their lunches and even worse, their shoes! So you have to drive all the way back home and back to school, and now you’re frustrated because you’re going to be late for work.
Most, if not all moms will agree with me that mornings in their homes are pretty hectic. People who know me know that I am always trying to find new or different ways to make the daily struggles easier or run more smoothly.
When I learn about a new process and try it out and it doesn’t work as well, I move on to the next thing. Which is why I constantly love to hear from other moms who are doing something different that works because there’s a good chance it will work for our family as well.
Over the years, these are some of the processes I have found that helps to move things along in the mornings:
⚪️ I have my kids lay out their clothes the night before so they know exactly what to wear.
⚪️ Instead of wasting time in the morning trying to figure out what they want to eat for breakfast, I have them decide the night before so that I can wake up and just make it.
⚪️ I have them pack their bags and leave them near the door so it’s all ready to go.
⚪️ I’ve used a white board to list out things that needs to be done to help remind them what they should be doing and in what order. It helps to put them back on track when they deviate. (Although, as long as I can see that they are getting things done, I really don’t care what order it gets done. But it helps them to be able to refer to something if they need a little reminder).
⚪️ To minimize the sibling quarrels, my daughter wakes up to her alarm 15 minutes earlier than my son so that she can use the restroom first.
⚪️ I buy them their own mouthwash and toothpaste. This alone has stopped so many silly arguments from occurring.
⚪️ Once in awhile, they know that if they are fully ready for school ahead of schedule, I’ll pass by the Starbucks and treat them to a hot chocolate at Starbucks. Yep, sometimes, I do resort to a little bribing and I’m okay with that.
Image by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay
It’s not perfect and it doesn’t always go as planned every morning. But many times, having these routines in place does make the morning run more smoothly, which means I have a better chance at setting a more positive tone for the rest of my day.
What does your mornings look like? Share in the comments any tips you have that has worked well for you. We’d all love to learn about it.