Morning Routines that Work
Want to have a calmer day? Then work to ace the marathon with a morning routine. Routine can be a safety net for young children. Keeping a steady routine will help every member of the family feel loved and respected. Along with setting up a routine comes speaking to your child when changes inevitably occur so he knows what to expect. Take one young child with speech delays, for example, whose mother said, “It just never occurred to me to talk to him about what was going to happen, until a therapist gently pointed out how I can improve my interactions with my child. She suggested that this might be a direct cause to the meltdown my son was having. He needs to know what to expect, [the therapist] explained. And the more predictable you can make it, the better. I took her words to heart and started working on routines,” said the mother. “The change in my son's behavior was immediately positive. Having routines in place gave him the structure he needed and allowed him to progress.” First Comes Training: Once you have picked a morning routine for kids, go through all of the steps with them in the morning. Give each child a list with his or her morning routine, and let them check off the items, mentally or otherwise, as they get tackled. If you have younger children, use real pictures instead of just words and include all of the tasks that have to get done like: brushing teeth, combing hair, getting dressed, eating breakfast and putting shoes on. Parents who implement a visual schedule notice a huge difference. “It was just a little paper with some simple drawings, but you wouldn’t believe what a difference it made. My children were focused, and following along so happily!” gushed one mother. Throughout the morning routine, encourage your child to take ownership of these tasks and try not to do everything for him. It might be quicker in the short term to put his pants on, but you may just contribute to a power struggle that you will pay for in time and frustration down the road. Also, a five-minute “exercise” session can get everyone awake and moving. Children with low attention span can benefit from hearing a story during breakfast time, when they are anyway seated. Mealtime, in general, can be a great way to focus in on language that you want your child to learn. Then Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: 1.Plan what you will be serving for breakfast the night before and prepare the ingredients. Cereal and milk? You can set the bowls and spoons out. If you do something a little harder, such as eggs, oatmeal, or pancakes: get the ingredients measured and ready, the pan out, so all you have to do in the morning is mix and cook. You can also prepare in bulk and refrigerate on Sunday i.e. french toast, pancakes, tuna/egg salad, then just reheat for the next few days. I’ve even made mini omelets in bulk, just fry one egg in a pan. You can reheat with a slice of American cheese. 2.Pack snacks and lunches the night before - If you have older children, you can delegate and teach them how to do it. I sometimes cut up extra fruit and veggies at suppertime, and put them into a bag for the next day. Keep a snack/lunch section with commonly used food and spreads in your fridge and pantry for easy preparation. Sandwiches? Either make and put in the fridge, or get the plate and ingredients ready on the counter and in the fridge. You can bulk freeze sandwiches that don’t have a mayo based spread - think peanut butter and jelly or cream cheese. 3.Choose and prepare clothes - Either you or your child should pick clothes the night before. Involving your children in this decision-making process is a great way to give them some control. Don’t forget to get your own clothes ready! Assign a place for all of the school essentials so you aren’t searching for backpacks, shoes etc. each morning. Try a box, hooks at your child’s level or a shelf. Assign a place for your pocketbook, wallet or phone as well. 4.Get up before your kids. If you wake up even 15 minutes before your children, you can get yourself oriented and ready. You need all the energy you can get, so set yourself up for success. Which of these tips will you implement? Let’s share ideas for a great morning!