In a perfect world, everyone would be a morning person, up at the crack of dawn, cheery and ready to face the day with their workbags packed and teeth sparkling. But the reality for most families is that mornings are a scramble.
Do you almost lose your mind and voice each morning as you coax, remind and even threaten your kids? The stress can escalate all too quickly and leave a pallor on the rest of the day.
So what can we do to bring more peace and harmony to the mornings? Well, this is going to sound counterintuitive, but you have to give your kids more responsibility and let go of some of your own fears. The fact is, by pestering them, packing their bags and lining up their shoes, you are encouraging them to be dependent on you. So let yourself off the hook (and remember: if they are late, it is not a reflection on you).
An important goal of parenting is to encourage children towards independence. And the younger you start, the better! The more your children can do for themselves and for the family, the more confidence they will have. A good mantra for parents to repeat while making changes is ‘Love, Respect, and Faith’. Love doesn’t mean doing everything for your kids—it means letting go! Respect allows for them to make choices and to experience failure such as forgetting their homework, wearing the wrong shoes or being late. Think of these failures as opportunities to learn. And yes, have faith. They will learn.
Here’s a tried-and-true idea to get you started:
Have a family get-together to discuss the morning routine. Even a child as young as 2 1/2 can participate in creating a routine. When children have a say in creating the routine, they are much more likely to follow it. Make your meeting fun and brief, and remember a special snack can win almost anyone over!
Create a list of the jobs to be done in the morning. For instance, your child’s job is to dress themselves, and organize their pack. Your job is to dress yourself, to prepare breakfast and to call them when it’s ready. (Once only, not every 5 minutes!) With younger children it may be helpful to create a job chart with words and photos of them brushing their teeth, getting dressed and eating their breakfast.
Important tip: include a cuddle with a parent as the first thing they do in the morning. Children that feel cared about are far less likely to act out.
I’m going to go out on a limb, and predict that the first routine you make will not work perfectly. You may even curse the attempt. So agree to try the new routine for a few days only, with a plan to revisit it. Then celebrate what worked and tweak what didn’t! And feel free to comment here on your morning successes, failures and suggestions.