All people, kids included want to belong. For kids to feel like they belong/have a place in the family, they need to contribute to something to the family. A great place to begin 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 proud of their contribution, like their older siblings (who will never admit it), even if they need some help. Encourage your kids by letting them 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 getting up with an alarm clock. Then have a few practice runs over a three day weekend. Be sure to use encouraging words. After that expect them to get up on their own with the alarm clock. This means no more nagging or yelling to get up! 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. This includes TV, video games, talking on the phone, and anything else the kids can dream up. The child is also 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 you both have chosen 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 or jacket. Lessons learned the hard way are the ones we remember the most.
Second, have the kids choose their clothes and lay them out for the next day. If you have a young child, a toddler, preschooler or kindergartner, give the child a choice of two weather and occasion appropriate outfits only. When clothes are laid out, make sure that everything is included, (even undergarments, socks & shoes). Make sure that the child understands 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 a lot of wasted time in the morning changing outfit after outfit.
The last tip is to move into the kitchen to make lunch for tomorrow together. 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, leave the lunches in the refrigerator, to be grabbed in the morning and put into backpacks before leaving the house.
I always loved spending this evening time 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 in your home, you make it easy for mornings to be calm and happy. Try them out and let us know how it works for you. Your comments are always welcome.