Trying to get kids fed, dressed, and happy in the morning is quite a job! I remember those days well; and unfortunately, they didn't always end well. It was usually me raising my voice for the kids to hurry up and pushing them out the door so I could get to work on time. Then I would feel bad the rest of the day that the first part of their day ended up with me being upset with them. Though I was very organized, it still was difficult to remember everything and get the kids dressed and fed on time; and luckily I was fortunate enough to have caregivers that would dress and feed them if it didn't get done before I left. But with a few suggestions from Parents.com, your mornings can have a much better start:
Is Everyone Getting Enough Sleep? Consider that draggy mornings may mean some of you (or all of you!) aren't getting enough sleep. Sleep needs vary from child to child (and parent to parent). In fact, a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of children under 18 complained of being tired during the day, while 15 percent of children said they actually fell asleep at school. How much sleep does your family need? Check out the National Sleep Foundation. And move up dinner time, bath time, story time and bedtime if needed so everyone feels refreshed in the morning.
Get It Done the Night Before: Re-fill diaper bags, pack toddler snacks, sign permission slips -these are things that can take up precious morning minutes. That's why lots of parents suggest getting ready for the morning the night before. Choose outfits (for the children and yourself), pack diaper bags and backpacks, and make sure homework is finished for older children the night before. You can even set out cereal bowls and vitamins (with safety caps on them) on the table in preparation. I am not a morning person so the more I prepared the night before the better the morning would go.
Post a Hard To Miss Calendar: A centrally located calendar is useful for keeping families on the same page. Teach everyone to check the calendar each evening to avoid stress inducing emergencies in the morning. Colors and stickers can help little ones understand the week's plans; older kids and adults may want to synchronize the calendar with their cell phones.
Parents Get Ready First: Enjoying getting yourself ready while the house is still quiet can help set the tone for the morning. Getting ready before waking the children also allows you to concentrate more fully on the kids as well as any unanticipated issues that may come up.
Everyone Gets An Alarm Clock: Nearly half of parents (44 percent) said that getting kids out of bed was the most stressful part of the morning. Help give kids ownership of their mornings by letting them shop for an age-appropriate clock (digital clocks may be easier for the youngest family members). Show them how to use it and make a point of talking about time and rituals as you set it each night.
Make Mornings Family Time: Busy schedules may make it difficult for families to eat dinner together, so make it a priority to eat breakfast together. Eating breakfast as part of the morning ritual also provides kids with the nourishment and energy they need to start their day off right.
Make It Easier To Be Organized: If kids know where things go when they walk in the house, they'll have an easier time packing up in the morning. Establish places for storing backpacks, homework and other essential items. Then help make organization a habit by walking kids through the process a few days in a row.
Just Say No To TV: Kids can easily be distracted by watching TV in the morning. Keep them moving and focused on the tasks at hand by instituting a no TV rule before school.
With all the families that have parents working outside the home, we need to be sure that we get off on the right foot in the mornings. For the children and adults, those first hours will set the tone for the rest of their day, and especially for little ones, we want them to have a happy start to the beginning of their day. We always want them to feel loved and cared for, we DON'T want them to remember an angry parent rushing them in, setting them down, and hurrying off.
Sue Junge is an Early Childhood Specialist for Marshall County Empowerment and is a Thursday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. For more information, please visit www.marshallempowerment.com.