In our house, my husband is gone to work usually before the kids even wake up. On the rare occasions that he is home in the morning, it is usually distracting and throws us off our rhythm. Sorry babe, I love you, but you mess with my flow when you are home in the morning! I have been alone in the mornings with the kids (weekdays of course) since they were babies. Out of necessity, I have developed systems and routines that we try and adhere to and this has been my saving grace. I am a creature of habit and so are my kids. My oldest is a teenager now, and we have been heavily reliant on routines in our household since he was born. Our routines and schedules have definitely evolved over the years, as the kids have grown and become more independent, but the framework always remains the same.
As I talked about in yesterday's post on time management, every morning between 7am-8am it's go time for the kids and myself. They wake up and have a set routine that they follow and this is the key to success for us.
One of the biggest ways that our morning can run off the rails is fighting among the kiddos. This is a tough one and unfortunately sibling rivalry is a HUGE problem in our house. So big in fact, that back in the Spring I hired a parenting coach, to help me strategize some solutions. My girls, in particular, bicker and fight a lot. Sometimes from the time they wake up. I can't stand it, and I find it really hard to keep us on track in the morning when the kids are fighting. Usually because I get called away from what I am doing to manage someone's behavior or referee. One of the most helpful things I learned from Margery, the Compassionate Parenting Coach, is that if they can't stand to be in each other's space, don't have them eating breakfast together or sharing the bathroom. I had always had them completing all of these things at the same time, and it had never occurred to me to change things up and have different kids doing different things at different times. It took a little creative planing, but once we implemented this change, there was a noticeable improvement. So because of this, the timing of each kid's routine is a little different, but they accomplish the same things by 8am.
For example, Stella is always awake first and she is starving in the morning so she eats right at 7am, while the other two are usually still in bed begging for 5 more minutes!
I have come to learn that the bathroom is a "hot zone" meaning it can be like a war zone if I send 2 or 3 kids in there at the same time. Now, we have a rule that only 1 kid can be using the bathroom at a time!
To keep everyone on track, myself included, we have a set list of chores and responsibilities written down and in plain sight so everyone is clear on what they are meant to be doing.
Along with the basics like eating, getting dressed and brushing their teeth, my kids have some additional jobs to do in the morning. Honestly, I started giving them jobs a few years back just so that they had something to do besides fight with each other! I came up with 6 little chores that they could do in the morning, so each kid gets assigned 2 jobs and we rotate them every week. Here is a list of our jobs:
1.Put away breakfast food
3.Walk and Feed the Dog
4.Get out lunch bags and put an ice pack in each one.
5.Take out the recycling.
6.Tidy up the bathroom.
This week, Stella is responsible for putting away the food and watering the plants. Kallum is on lunch bags and dog duty and Sadie is doing the recycling and bathroom tidy. On monday morning we will rotate the jobs so they are doing something different each week. I really like that the kids are learning responsibility and the importance of helping out around the house. I remember a few years ago while the kids were "at work" doing their jobs, Stella says to me "why are you making us do ALL the work and you don't have any jobs at all"! I laughed so hard at this one! Probably because she was saying this to me as I was unloading and loading the dishwasher, and having just made her a hot breakfast. She made it seem like I was running some kind of labor camp!
After the kids have completed all of their chores and responsibilites, they are allowed some free time. It's great having them ready to go at 8, because then I can focus on getting myself ready to tackle my day.
And so completes part 3 of my "Managing the Morning Chaos" series. Over the years, I have really struggled with our morning routine and getting the kids out the door. There were many mornings were I would end up yelling or crying because things were so stressful, and I really hate to send the kids off to school on that note. I am so glad that I have figured out some better systems and routines for us and that we are consistently having better mornings.
I hope this series has given you some ideas if you are struggling with your school mornings!
Thanks for reading!