Recently, someone commented to me “Somehow, I have to instill a sense of urgency in my 2 kids in the mornings. They just drag their feet and getting them out the door for school is draining me.” Since his wife works and her shift begins at 5 am, he is in charge of getting the kids up, ready and off to school.
It brought back memories of when we were in the same boat as he – except we had more kids spaced 1 to 1-1/2 years apart. You might think we had his challenges multiplied many times over, because we had 7.5 times as many kids, but it wasn’t. In fact I think it was easier, because with more kids, we were forced to develop ways to handle it. It all comes down to planning, systems and routines.
Here was our nightly routine: Get pajamas on, brush teeth, get clothes ready for morning, pack your backpack with school books and homework, find boots and mittens, or anything else needed for the next day, even to the point of getting a bowl and spoon ready for their breakfast.
We used to begin to get ready for bed at least 20 minutes (sometimes 30 to 40 minutes) before story time so the school kids could get everything together for the next morning.
Some of our standard questions after they thought they were all ready:
“Is it library day tomorrow? Better find your books.”
“Do you have your socks, shoes (or boots,) gloves and hat?”
“Do you have your lunch ready?” (sometimes it was, “do you have your lunch money?”)
“Do you have your gym shoes, shorts and t-shirt?”
Then, (this was added incentive to instill a sense of urgency) I’d give the change from my pocket to the first one who was ready. They’d make a pile of their stuff, put books and homework in their backpacks, and the first one ready would come running to me with his/her hand out.
The better we followed this procedure, the smoother the day started. There were usually very few surprises and less stress for both us and the children. Systems, routines and planning always helps to reduce chaos and rushing around; and brings on less stress.
Here’s the way I see it: Getting the kids into a nightly routine will start the next day with smooth sailing, so plan and implement nightly habits for your household and you’ll start each day with less stress.