On a scale of 1-10, how stressful is it to get your children out the door in the mornings on a school day? Seven? Eight? Eleven, even?
What if I told you it were possible to get your children up and ready for school in only about a half an hour with NO tears, fighting, arguing or stress? Sound unrealistic? Actually, we do it every morning. And the times it takes a little longer than that (never more than 45 minutes), the extra time is just because we're hanging out as a family, talking, snuggling or playing before we start the day.
Peaceful, efficient mornings ARE possible for any family. Reclaim your mornings with the following essential tips for a stress-free morning routine.
1. Prepare the Night Before
It doesn't matter how early you wake up; if you start preparing for your day in the morning, you're going to be behind. Six or seven a.m. is NOT when you want to discover that your child doesn't have any clean socks left, that you were supposed to pick up a treat for a class party or that your child's library books are missing.
Eliminate these last minute details by getting absolutely as much as you can ready the night before-preferably at least an hour before bedtime. Have your children set their clothes and shoes out, make sure all papers are in backpacks and make lunches in advance. If it can be done early, do it early.
Tip: Organizing a week's worth of clothes into a hanging closet is the perfect way to make sure you always have everything you need in advance (and to stop last minute wardrobe changes).
2. Wake Up a Few Minutes Early
When morning does roll around, you want to be the first one up. Now, this doesn't mean you have to wake up an hour before every one else (though you certainly can if you want to!), but you will want to carve out enough time for you to do whatever you need to to start your day out on the right foot. If you start your day tired and grouchy, your kids will too.
Personally, I usually only wake up about 5 minutes before I get my oldest out of bed. This gives me just enough time to fully wake up, use the restroom and put my contacts in (and sometimes, get a load of laundry started real fast). I'm a morning person, so that's all I need to be awake and happy in the mornings, and I work from home, so I don't really have to get myself ready for work. You may want to start your day with a cup of coffee, some quiet time in the Word or a shower - whatever you need.
Tip: Getting your children their own kids' alarm clocks can help too. This way they can start getting ready independently, saving you time and hassle.
3. Keep Your Mornings as Simple as Possible
Want to get out the door as quickly and easily as possible? Your morning routine has to be simple! Here's what my son does every morning:
6:45 Wake up, use restroom, get dressed
7:00 Eat breakfast
7:15 Put shoes on and we're ready to go
That's it. No chores. No homework. NO TV, toys or games. This way, even when he dawdles (which he does quite regularly), the entire process still doesn't take long at all because there's nothing to it.
4. Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Just because you CAN get out the door in 30 minutes doesn't mean you should. Instead of trying to cut it as close as possible and rush everyone out the door, give yourself 10-20 extra minutes to spare, at least at first. Not only will this help if your kids like to spring things on you at the last minute, but if you end up not needing those minutes, you can spend them hanging out as a family and that's a great way to start the day!
5. Establish Routines and Procedures
Not only does my son only have about four things to do in the morning, but he pretty much ALWAYS does them in the same order and in the same way. This way, I don't have to convince or plead or remind him of what he needs to be doing. He just goes through the routine automatically without a fight.
Tip: A cute star chart can help remind and motivate your little ones as they are still learning the morning routine. My son had a chart when he was first starting kindergarten, and he referred to it every day.
6. Remove Distractions
What is the biggest thing preventing your family from having peaceful mornings? What can you do to remove the distractions and obstacles?
Children can't decide what to wear? Make them pick out their outfits the night before, put them in a hanging closet, and take their piles with them to the bathroom (or another room) to get dressed so they aren't tempted to keep switching things out. (My son gets dressed in the living room so he doesn't get distracted by all the toys in his room.)
Children are too busy watching TV to get ready? Turn it off. Or at the very least, make it a rule that they can ONLY have TV after they are 100% ready and ONLY if they turn it off immediately when it's time to go. (If they don't, all children lose TV privileges the next day.)
Children eating breakfast slowly? Let natural consequences take their course. If your children are hungry one morning, it won't kill them. And the next morning they'll be more likely to eat.
Children can't find things they need in the morning? Assign shoes, coats, backpacks and other items they use every day specific "homes" and make sure everything is in its "home" the night before. We use a hanging shoe organizer to keep everyone's shoes picked up but easy to find.
Just because most people consider stressful mornings "normal," it does not mean that they have to be. Mornings really can be your favorite part of the day, if you follow these six tips!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Equpping Godly Women. It has been republished here with permission.