All people, kids included want to belong to their family and other groups. For kids to feel like they belong and have a place in the family, they need to make a contribution. The first place to start is by having the kids take responsibility for getting themselves ready in the morning. You will be surprised at how well and readily they respond. Young children will be as proud of their contribution as their older siblings even if they need some help. Let your kids know that you know they can be responsible for themselves. But first, you need to teach them what you want them to do, such as setting then getting up with an alarm clock. Then practice the new procedures with them until they can do them by themselves. After that you can expect them to do the new tasks on their own without your help. This means no more nagging or yelling on your part. Your children will show you that they can be responsible if you expect them to act that way.
Three tips for successful, happy and calm mornings. First, homework should be completed and all notes from school should be signed and placed back in the child’s backpack before any leisure activities. The child should also be responsible for putting everything he/she will need for school the next day into their backpack (depending on age). Once the backpack is ready to go, it should be left in a location by the door you exit from in the morning. If your child forgets to pack something he/she needs for school (and they will, we all do), let them take the natural consequences of forgetting. Yes, even if it’s a sweater, jacket or trip slip. Lessons learned the hard way are the ones we remember and learn from.
Second, have the kids choose their clothes and lay them out for the next day the night before. If you have a young child, give the child a choice of two weather and occasion appropriate outfits. When clothes are laid out, make sure that everything is included, (even undergarments, socks & shoes). The child should understand that once an outfit is chosen, it is the one that will be worn the next day with no substitutions unless there is a dramatic weather change (90 degrees to raining and 40 degrees). Giving a choice in the process eliminates arguments and time consuming outfit changes in the morning.
Tip number three is to make lunches the night before also. I learned that kids are more likely to eat something that they have helped make or have made themselves, so get them involved in the process. Once made, put all the lunches into the refrigerator, so the kids always know where their lunches are so they can grab them to put in their backpacks before they dash out the door.
I always loved spending this time in the evening with my kids, and I think they (secretly enjoyed spending the time with me). We were able to get a lot of things done and had quality time that we all knew made everyone’s morning happier and calmer. It was a win for everyone!
By implementing these three tips into your evening routine, you will make your mornings calmer and happier and get everyone’s day off to a great start. Try them out and let us know how it works for your family.