(The following great advice is useful year round, but especially as we try to re-establish routines at home for the beginning of school. It is provided by the National School Public Relations Association. )
Getting children up and ready for the day, whether it be for school,
daycare, or even a sport or enrichment activity, is a sure-fire stress
builder and typical cause of morning madness. What can parents
do to start each day in a positive fashion?
Make the morning routine a way of life.
Parents unwittingly cause morning madness by not instilling
that the routine is a family requirement and not an option. A
non-negotiable routine must be established, and consequence
discussed and determined.
Stagger wake-up times.
If you’ve got more than one child in the house, and especially if
you have a large family, consider staggering wake-up times for
greater efficiency. Start with children who need assistance first,
or the ones who are real sleepyheads and move at a snail’s pace
Conquer clothing wars with proper planning.
Clothing, down to clean socks, underwear and shoes, and even
matching hair accessories should be laid out each night before
bed. Youngsters can play a role in choosing the outfit, but no
changes are allowed once their head hits the pillow. And, then
stick with it! The only exceptions should be an unknown tear
or stain, or surprise change in the weather. This avoids missing
socks, unmatched shirt and shoes, and keeps getting dressed a
simple step in beginning the day vs. a looming battle.
Determine breakfast choices in advance.
Some parents swear by weekly breakfast menus; others
adhere to cereal and fruit. Yet others have their children eat
the $1 breakfast at school each morning. Some daycares offer
breakfast; others allow parents to bring in a morning meal.
Breakfast is important. Some experts argue that it is the most
important meal of the day. Children need a nutritious start
each morning, but that start shouldn’t put parents in a work
bind or make children late for school.
Only do what’s really important.
Some parents unwittingly set their children up to fail with
their morning routines by taking on unexpected chores and
duties, which causes whines and a mad rush to end up on
time. Consider creating a checklist of what absolutely must be
done each morning, and then forget the rest. If you want your
child to make his or her bed every morning, then make that a
requirement. However, cleaning the cat box can surely wait
until a child gets home after school.
Recognize the snatch and go theory does work.
It’s just not enough to get dressed and eat. How many times
have children missed the bus because they couldn’t find their
homework sheet or didn’t have their backpack put together? If you
drive your children, then put their organized backpacks in the car the
night before. Lunches should also be prepared just before bed and easily
grabbed from the fridge the next morning. Jackets should be in a central
location. The “snatch and go” theory really does work in the mornings.
Designate an area for all essentials that can eliminate the crazed
morning syndrome when you’re trying to leave. Shoes, backpacks, car
keys, cell phones, purses, etc., should be placed in this area every day,
always, so they are always in place and ready for action. Keep a cell
phone charger in this area so your phone is charged for the day. Not
having to hunt down keys or other last-minute essentials is a time and
blood pressure saver, for sure.
Plan an occasional exception morning.
One way to make it easier for children to get up in the mornings is to
create an occasional “kids get up...NOT” day as a reward. If it’s a school
holiday, lazy weekend opportunity, or just about any reason at all,
parents can make a special celebration out of the exception. The “not”
day also serves to reinforce the lesson that normal mornings have a
schedule and expectation; and that occasionally everyone gets a break
from the routine.
Instill self responsibility.
Except for the very youngest, children can learn to awaken by an alarm
clock and get themselves up without mom or dad hovering and yelling,
“Are you up yet?” Let them decide what is the best time for the alarm
to go off and get ready on time. If this means Erica doesn’t get her hair
braided or Sam doesn’t get second helpings on cereal, encourage them
to set their alarms 15 minutes earlier for future days. Cause and effect is
a good lesson to learn.
Model good morning behavior.
And, finally, parents really can help to determine whether their children
become morning risers or morning whiners. If parents moan and groan,
are always frantic, grumpy and running late themselves, then how can
they really expect anything more of their children? Good advice is to
get up earlier yourself, start that coffee or do 10 minutes of exercise, and
then show that Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) and really mean it when
you greet your kids with “Good Morning!”