I don’t know about you, but mornings with my children can be HARD.
It would typically start with a race between my insomniac four-year-old daughter, who can’t seem to fall asleep until she’s played with every single toy in the room but still somehow gets up a lot earlier than necessary, and my two-year-old son who would probably sleep longer but is awakened by his sister and rushes to keep up with her quick descent down the stairs. I’d wake up to their loud arrival in my room then my son would greet me with a squinty plea for milk, my daughter would race to the iPad, and I’d pull myself out of bed to get myself ready then wake my two oldest for school.
The morning would catch speed as I’d find every way possible to communicate to my school-age daughters the need to hurry. it. along. I’d clap my hands really fast, I’d snap repetitively to accent each word, “GET (snap) YOUR (snap) SHOES (snap snap) ON (snap snap, snappity snap snap!). I gave up packing their lunches. I used to do the cutest things like write notes on their napkins. But that had to go and I found myself shouting through the closing van door, “Just get school lunch again!”
I didn’t like the rushed, forced, frustrated feelings we were all having each morning and I knew something had to change. So we have adopted and adapted and adjusted a system that really helps make our mornings run more smoothly. It’s called THE MORNING ORDER ROUTINE.
It grounds us. It calms me and saves me from losing it (snap clap!), and creates HABITS that kick in without my sing-songy (so I don’t swear) reminders, over and over again, to please do this and that. I love morning order and keep reading because I’m pretty sure you will too.
The key is to start young, make expectations clear, and give your kids ownership in their own morning routine. And most importantly, give them a way to track their progress.
The source of this Morning Order routine is Joy School, a co-op preschool where moms trade off teaching their collective children in their homes. I’ve done Joy School with all of my kids. This is where I first heard of Morning Order and several other tools that have helped us keep things going more smoothly in our house.
First, I printed the pictures for the kids and had them color them while we talked about each task. This is my four- year-old’s, but she was way more interested in having a snack than in coloring, so I finished them for her (in case you’re impressed).
All credit for this file folder idea goes to Amy at My Name is Snickerdoodle.I cut off the top half of the file folder so you have the nice crease at the bottom and glued the pictures along that crease. Then I made the cuts in between the pictures so they each have a little “door” that can close when the task is done. I didn’t have double-sided velcro handy, so I ended up cutting up a few Command Strips which work beautifully to make the doors stay closed. Then you get to write DONE! on the back.
I think it’s very important to remember to let your child choose the order in which he or she does the tasks so they feels like they have choices, but I’ve found that once they understand what needs to be done, the order doesn’t matter so much.
Mornings can still have a rough start. But I love having a starting point to refer to. When I call out,”Okay, time for Morning Order!” the kids know exactly what I mean. And they get excited about closing each “door” on their chart and being ready for the day.
In our family, I help my school-aged kids complete their Morning Order, we eat breakfast together, then once they’re off and I’ve recovered, I start again with the younger kids. I let them see me make my bed and put my pajamas away. EVERYONE needs some morning order!
It works well for us. I hope it helps you.
Question: What are your best tips and tricks for helping mornings go well in your home?
Challenge: Create your own morning order charts and see how it goes!
This post was originally published on the author’s personal blog, Where are my Mary Janes? and is used here by permission of the author.