I blissfully remember the days pre-children when my morning routine would consist of getting out of bed at 7 am, having a long shower followed by breakfast whilst watching BBC news. I would spend a good 20 minutes deciding on what to wear (leaving puddles of discarded clothes on the floor), putting on my make-up, and then walking to the station whilst listening to Radio 6.
Our mornings mostly consist of me (unshowered, unkempt, no makeup and wearing 2 day old clothes) shouting like a Sergeant Major as I ask the kids to get ready for the hundredth time. I am confounded as to why it always takes so long. New research suggests that if you do something routinely for 66 days then it becomes a habit. Well, my daughter has been at school for 109 days now and I can’t see any habits forming, apart from bad ones.
To prevent any more grey hairs I have researched the ‘Top 10 tips for getting your kids ready in the morning‘ and this is what I have come up with. And do you know what? It’s working.
1. Get kids into bed on time
Save the late nights for the weekend and get the kids into bed on time on a school night. A good night’s sleep will ensure they are well rested and ready for the day ahead and less prone to any grumpy mornings.
2. Prep the night before
Anything that can be done the night before to relieve the stresses of the morning is well worth the effort. Lay their clothes out on the floor, pack the school bag/PE bag and put coats, bags and shoes by the front door so they can be easily be grabbed on the way out. Better still, if they are old enough ask THEM to get everything ready.
3. Get up 10 minutes before the kids do
This will give you the opportunity to have a quick shower, get dressed, put on a dash of lipstick and maybe even have a cup to tea before throwing yourself into the morning bedlam. I find I am much calmer in the mornings once when I have one less person to worry about getting ready.
4. Morning cuddle and conversation
Children can be particularly needy in the morning. Let’s face it, they haven’t seen Mummy or Daddy for 12 hours so they may need a bit of snuggle when they wake. A cuddle and a conversation will normally put them in the right frame of mind to start the day. Factor this into your schedule and you’ll find there will be less attention-demanding behaviour later on, resulting in a slightly less frazzled parent.
5. Get dressed before breakfast
This is by far the most painful part of the morning in our household. Most people find that getting it out of the way first thing seems to be the way forward. The idea being that the incentive of breakfast propels them into warp-like speed and before you know it they are fully dressed and racing down the stairs heading for the kitchen.
However, whilst this works well for my youngest daughter it does not for my eldest. After waking it can take her about half an hour before she is able to have a conversation, let alone get dressed. She is also a tad messy so I find that putting the school uniform on first results in a porridge and toothpaste stained dress. So I have a different tactic for her. She has breakfast in her pyjamas. With food in her tummy, she is in a much better mood to tackle the palaver of getting dressed.
6. Simple breakfast
Save the pancakes, omelettes and other hot breakfasts for the weekend when mornings are slightly less chaotic. Keep it simple.
7. Empower kids to make their own breakfast
Kids love to do things ‘on their own’ so give them the opportunity to make their own breakfast. Ensure that cereals, bowls, spoons and milk are all within reach.
A friend of mine has three children, two of which are twins. Her morning routine runs like a military operation. Her top tip is to use an alarm on her phone to get the kids moving in the morning. She sets one alarm for ‘Time to clean teeth’ and then another for ‘Time to put shoes on’. The alarm has two benefits. One, the kids know exactly what needs to be done and when. And two, as a mum it’s easy to lose to track of time, so it’s a great way to keep on schedule without constantly having to ‘clock’ watch.
9. Reward Chart
Historically I haven’t been a fan of reward charts but I find them very useful when it comes to motivating the kids to get ready in the morning. If my daughter gets dressed on her own she gets a star. If she cleans her teeth for a full two minutes she also gets a star. We count the stars up over the course of a week and if she gets eight or more stars then I buy her a new book.
And finally, if all else fails, use an incentive to get them ready in record time. In our house, the kids love to read, so if I need them to get a move on, I normally offer the incentive/
bribe of a book with Mummy once they are ready. Works wonders. It doesn’t have to be a book. Whatever works for you and your family.
Over to you
What works in your family? Do you have any tips that you would like to share?