Avoiding Morning Chaos
by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC
I am sure I don't need to describe most households' weekday mornings. Dad is trying to rush out the door by seven to beat the traffic, the dog needs to be let out, the kids have slept in and Mom has probably been up once or twice in the night with the baby and is not in the best of moods. There's a constant chorus of: "Where are my socks?" "I have to take money for a school project today." "I just spilled milk on my homework" "I just missed the school bus." Does this sound familiar to all of us?
So, how can we make weekday mornings run smoothly?
It takes planning, routine, practice, praise, consequences and adjustment.
- Make a list of all the things that need to be done to get the kids fed, out the door with all their stuff in time to catch the school bus or get into the car.
The kind of activities you would include on your list would be things like homework completed, school bag cleared and repacked, bulletins from teachers read, signed and/or responded to, beds made, rooms tidy, breakfast eaten, teeth cleaned, bathroom tidy, rest room visited and out of the house by 7:00 a.m. or whatever time is required.
- Work out what needs to be done by when and then how much can be completed the night or even the week before to save time later.
You can easily see that some of the activities can be done before the next morning e.g. bags cleared, homework done, parents signing forms or organizing money for school activities and clothing ready to wear.
2. Routine: Create a weekly timetable where the same thing happens every weekday at the same time, to the point where no thought has to go into it so it just becomes habit. A routine has the added benefit of each person knowing the expectations and creates a sense of teamwork and responsibility. Each family member's contribution promotes the calm running of the home. When you have routine, kids learn that if they fulfill their responsibilities quickly there is time for fun.
3. Practice: With the timetable up, it is then just a matter of educating everyone on exactly what completes each task, whether it is clearing out their school bags or tidying their rooms. It does take practice to make perfect, so when they do a great job, tell them so. You can even say, "Because you did your homework quickly, you can watch a little extra TV tonight," or, "Because you finished your tasks and then helped your brother with his, there is more time to have fun."
4. Praise: It is vital to praise your kids liberally. They will not get it right the first or maybe the third, but if you criticize the results and not the effort, you will not get willing compliance from your kids. Everyone in the world needs to feel validated and praise is the single most effective way to endorse worth.
5. Consequences: Our kids need to realize that non-compliance will result in negative consequences. You owe it to yourself, as a parent, to train your kids to fulfill tasks promptly and expertly. It makes for a much happier home all round.
6. Evaluation and Adjustments: Routines and timetables sometime need adjustment when they are not working as expected. When kids are slow to get out of bed in the mornings, they may be tired from going to bed late, be over-stimulated by TV viewing or stressed out by disharmony in the home or being bullied. Causes for non-compliance with the timetable may require us to observe and address underlying factors before issuing consequences. These factors may mean we, as parents, have to change.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Also, check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com