I am not a morning person. I love the idea of waking up early, before the rest of the house is awake, sitting quietly with a hot cup of coffee and enjoying the morning, then kicking into high gear, knocking out a bunch of things for the day. On days when that has happened, I feel like I’ve done a whole day’s worth of work by noon. But, in actuality, I’m the person who pushes snooze on her alarm clock (probably twice) most mornings. My son is often my alarm as he jumps out of bed as soon as his eyes open around 6:30 a.m. We have to leave the house by 7:35 a.m. to get him to school comfortably by 8:00, so every minute counts. I walk around in a daze in the morning until I’ve had breakfast and started drinking my coffee.
Our mornings are made smoother by a few routines I’ve incorporated into our lives.
1) I lay out my son’s clothes for the week on Sunday night. I check the weather on my iPhone app and try to plan accordingly (long or short sleeves, shorts or pants, etc.) He wears a uniform, so it’s not too difficult to pick out the outfits- I just have to make sure they are clean (along with his nap blanket). Which also means I typically do our laundry for the week on Sunday, finishing right before bed on Sunday night.
2) My son puts his own clothes on in the morning. This is part of his morning “chore chart” and it saves me the hassle and time of doing it myself. He just turned 4 and is capable of getting himself dressed. He sometimes needs assistance putting the shoes on the correct feet or if he gets his socks twisted. I do give him a timer warning, “In 5 minutes, you have to get dressed” and then set the timer. This helps a bunch in our house. Also, he watches cartoons in the morning, so when it’s time to get dressed, the cartoons are turned off so he can focus.
If he doesn’t start getting dressed after the timer goes off, he gets the “1, 2, 3” and time-out on the stairs for one minute. On average, I’d say he goes to time out once a week in the morning, but it’s pretty painless (for me:). (If you’re interested, I read and followed the book 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 and it has worked very well with my son.)
3) I prep my son’s school food on the weekend. He doesn’t eat the school lunch, so I prepare his snack and lunch for the week. Fruit is washed, cut up and portioned out into small plastic containers and kept in the fridge. Dry snacks like goldfish and pretzels are also portioned out and kept in a small kitchen drawer.
I like my son to help where he can and try to think of the ways he can be involved when it comes to family chores. He enjoyed pulling the grapes off the stem and putting them into a container by himself.
4) I pack my son’s snack and lunch and bags before bed.
Having everything prepped ahead of time makes assembling the snack and lunch pretty easy. We have a peanut-free class, so he gets some combination of milk and fruit with yogurt for the morning snack; and juice, cheese, granola bar/goldfish/pretzels for lunch.
I shove the packed bags into the fridge and, in the morning, just have to put the ice-pack in each and load them into his backpack.
5) The backpack lives in the mudroom.
I always know where to find it before heading out the door. Any papers that need to be filled out go into his folder the night before school.
I know that mornings can be really stressful trying to get yourself and everybody else out of the house on time. I may not always feel like doing the prep work, but I always regret it in the morning if I don’t.