How would you best describe your weekday mornings: smooth sailing or stress city? I would venture to guess that many parents identify more with the latter. So what can be done to minimize challenges and frustrations in the mornings and get the day off to a good start? Learning and practicing the three R’s of morning readiness, Responsibility, Routine, and Respect, would be a good way to begin.
While it may seem easier to take charge in the mornings, your involvement where it may not necessarily be needed only teaches your child to be dependent upon you to complete the tasks he is capable of completing himself. And, while it may cause some pain and discomfort in the short term, you need to find ways to shift the responsibility for getting ready in the morning to your child.
Your job is to set the expectations and teach your child to complete her morning routine as independently as possible. How can you accomplish this? By setting a consistent routine.
First, make a list of all the things that need to be taken care of before you leave for school each day. Identify the items that your child is able to accomplish and create a checklist for your child. This not only serves as a visual reminder of the tasks that need to be completed each day, but offers your child a sense of ownership in the process.
Keep in mind that a school day morning actually begins the night before. Determining items on the list that can be accomplished before bedtime, such as picking out clothes or making lunch can save time and reduce stress in the morning.
Stay organized. Designate a spot near the door to store backpacks and other items needed for the next school day, such as gym clothes or school projects. Identify a location for “action items” (e.g. permission slips) and train your child to put those items in that location for your review.
Whatever methods you choose to employ, consistency is the key to the success of any routine.
Instilling a sense of trust instead of fear can go a long way in minimizing struggles and creating an environment of respect. While each family member has the same end goal, getting out the door on time, understand there are different ways to reach that goal. Rather than trying to get your child to do things your way, be respectful of his or her choices, as long as those choices do not impede upon achieving the goal. For example, if your child is having difficulty completing all her morning tasks on time, offer her the choice to either get up earlier to allow more time complete the tasks or to choose additional tasks to take care of the night before.
Once you’ve set the expectations and established a morning routine, don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well. By modeling the behavior you are looking for, not only will you set the example, you are more likely to steer clear of stress city and be on your way to smooth sailing each and every day!