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Challenge: Raising kids is stressful. Let’s share ways to make it less so.

Move Those Mornings

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Almost everyone that I know HATES mornings. Who wants to get up? We want and need sleep. That being said, we also HATE fighting with our kids. When kids are rushed, they get frustrated, angry, defiant. The more you rush and push, the slower they seem to go.

Wake Up Earlier.

Waking up earlier will make your mornings go so much smoother. You know your kid. 20 minutes earlier may be fine, but for more meticulous friends (didn’t want to say SLOW), go 35 or more. Stop the rushing and start earlier. Kids take longer than you think to get things done. Why? Because they are kids and it is what they do. I could go into a whole shpiel about cognitive and motor development stuff, but I wont. They are kids and kids can be SLOW. End the yelling and fighting and get up earlier.

Get things ready the night before.

And I mean EVERYTHING. Clothes, all the way down to socks, shoes, barrettes, etc. Pack lunches and put them in the fridge. Put book bags by the door. Even make sure that you put out hats, scarfs, and gloves. You do not want to have to look for ANYTHING in the A.M. You can even set the table for breakfast if the mood strikes you. Leave as little to do in the morning as possible. Kids can help with this. They can pick out their clothes, get their coats and hats and gloves and put them by the door.

Put the carrot at the end.

Sometimes we think that if we let kids play or watch TV, we can get some things done in the morning and they will be happier and more cooperative. NOPE. Sure, this may work for some kids, but for many, it is a fight to pull them away from all of that fun to eat, brush teeth, get dressed – so put the fun at the end. After your child is dressed, teeth brushed, fed, and anything else that needs to be done in the morning, then she can play, if there is time.

If she fought you the whole way, there may not be any time for fun before you leave the house. I like to be honest: your kids will probably be HIGHLY mad at you in the beginning. They are used to watching TV or playing and if they miss out because they ran out of time there WILL be an explosion. That is fine. At a calmer time, talk about why they did not get a chance to play in the morning, and the next day review it again. Bet they speed up for you.

Kids are also not great with the “I let you watch TV, so you have to listen now.” That does not really register as something that corresponds, and much of the time we get angry, hurt and upset about this. Put the carrot or thanks or fun thing at the end. It works the same for us – we have to get things done before we can have fun.

Have your kids dress themselves.

The idea is to be more efficient in the mornings. Even some of our youngest friends can put pants (and some, shirts) on, or at least get OUT of PJs. For those kids who need some help, think coach – not a valet (Downton fans, you know what this is). Show him how to pick up the shirt, where to put his head, and so on. The goal is to teach them so that they can dress themselves and buy you about 15 minutes or MORE in the morning.

Give Choices.

“Do you want to wear the blue shoes or your green shoes?” “Do you want to leave now or in two minutes?” When you give kids some choices they feel heard and respected and will be more willing to hear and respect you.

Ask them why they won’t put shoes on, coat on, pants on…

Instead of yelling or fighting with your kids, ask why they don’t want to put their pants on. They may not have a reason or their reason may seem silly to you, but just asking them may help you move along. See above about respect and being heard. You also actually may get an answer. Maybe they want to wear other pants, maybe they don’t like those shoes today, and so on and so on.

End conversations.

I am the first person to say that kids need to feel heard and respected (see above again), BUT so do you. If you have been clear, end the discussion. “I need you to put your coat on. It is cold and we are leaving. I will not discuss the jacket. You can do it or I can do it.” “You can play with your trains when you have finished getting dressed and not before. I am being clear and will not talk about this any more. It is up to you when you play.”

Your kids can keep talking, but you don’t have to. You have made it clear that you are finished with the conversation, so you are not ignoring your child. You will talk about other things, but not the topic at hand. Side note: in a kid’s mind, if you are still hanging around to talk (argue) about it, there is a chance that they can wear you down and you will change your mind.

Stick with these few ideas and get out of your home, stress-free and on time.

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