Mornings are stressful for most of us parents. Somehow, we have to get the kids out of bed, dressed, fed and out the door in about an hour – maybe two. When my youngest turned four, he refused to do anything in the morning. If he couldn't do it himself, it would turn into a meltdown.
I was late to work more times than I can count.
Through trial and error (again, more times than I can count), we finally found a routine that worked for us. Everyone got where they needed to be on time, and the meltdowns finally stopped.
Here's what happened:
1. Everyone Went to Bed Earlier
It's easier to get up early when everyone gets a full night of sleep. And it's easier to stay calm and patient when you're not exhausted. So, the first thing we did was start bedtime earlier.
This alone helped make the morning routine so much less stressful. When everyone is well-rested, it's easier to transition into the morning routine.
2. I Prepped Everything the Night Before
Preparation can go a long way in making your morning routine less stressful. I prepped everything the night before to make my mornings easier.
I prepped and packed lunches, or I had money on the table ready to go if the kids were buying lunch.
I ground the coffee and set the delay brew time so that I had a full pot of coffee ready and waiting in the morning.
I prepped my breakfast so I could focus on getting the kids fed and out the door.
We all laid our clothes out for the next day.
Backpacks and briefcases were set next to the door and ready to go.
The extra preparation took some time out of my evening routine, but it allowed us all to have a better start to the day. It is worth spending the extra 30-40 minutes preparing for the morning.
I also got the kids involved in this, so they were already mentally preparing themselves for the morning before we even went to bed.
3. I Gave More Transition Time
It's hard for adults to jump out of bed and get on with the day. Everyone needs to transition from sleep to the morning routine.
For kids, the transition can take a little longer. With the little ones, we snuggled for five minutes each morning just to get that transition going. We talked about all of the fun things that will happen that day to get them excited to get out of bed.
Older children can usually go through this transition period on their own, but they'll need more than just 20 minutes to get up and ready for the day. Make sure that everyone has the time they need in the morning to switch their mindsets.
4. I Gave Choices
Some parents may disagree with this one, but it's important to understand the mind of a four-year-old. Kids at this age don't like to be ordered around. Of course, we still bark orders because we're parents and that's our job. But with small things, it's sometimes better to concede control and let the child make the decision.
Does she want to put on her jacket first, or her shoes? Small decisions like these can make the morning routine easier because the child feels like she made the decision on her own.