Parenting: How to Organise Morning Routines for Your Children
Getting to work on time when you have young children can be a hectic, confusing, and frustrating experience for you as well as for your children. By organising a regular morning routine, you'll be able to start your day at work on time and feel calm and relaxed. Your children will also benefit because they will feel more secure with clearly defined schedules and are much more likely to adapt and behave as expected.
Waking Up Your Child
- The night before, talk about anything new or interesting that is going to happen the next day. If there isn’t anything new, make up a special meaning for each day of the week, such as Wednesday being “Speed Hump Day” for the middle of the week, or Saturday being “Sleep In Day”. When morning comes and it is time to get up, mention the special item again with enthusiasm, for example “today is going to be marvellous because it’s Speed Hump Day and we can pretend to be a car!”
- Buy a children’s alarm clock and set it. Many children will love having a toy alarm clock to wake them up. Show your child how to turn it on and off and explain that the alarm means it is time to get up. Hint: Make sure you double check that the alarm clock is turned on for the correct time the night before.
- Make sure your children are comfortable getting up. If the house is really cold, put on the heater or assist children to put on slippers and a dressing gown when they get out of bed. Follow up with going to the toilet, getting them a drink of water and encouraging them to congregate in the kitchen for breakfast.
- Lavish attention on household members who are already up, loudly saying things like “I have a special breakfast for you and anyone else who’s awake, Daddy!” and “Everyone who is in the kitchen gets a wonderful surprise today!” A stash of bribes, such as stickers, adding chopped fruit to the breakfast or small party trinkets will help children learn that getting up can be easy and fun.
- Encourage children to sit at their regular eating place and wait for breakfast. They should start to feel hungry and therefore be more responsive when it arrives. Try to chat to them if you can while preparing breakfast to keep them seated there. Good things to talk about include anything that is happening today or in the future, or what they dreamed about last night.
- Prepare the children’s and adults drinks first, followed by a choice of breakfast. It might seem like more work to have a choice of breakfast but children who are not given a choice often get bored and can refuse to eat. By choosing their breakfast, children feel more interested and included. Of course, the choice should be limited to quickly-prepared breakfasts, such as having a range of cereal or a range of toast toppings from which to choose. Make your breakfast at the same time and sit with your children to eat it. If you finish your breakfast first, go and do another household chore, while encouraging them to finish and join you. Children will learn that your time is limited and that lingering at the table will not get them more attention.
- Train your child to carry their bowl and cup to the sink and put them in. It’s good to have plastic dishes for this purpose. Ask your child to help with statements like “Mummy would be really pleased if you could help her” and “Well done! You are so organised!” Hang a warm, damp face washer on a tea towel rack and encourage your child to wipe their face and hands on it after the meal.
- Make your child feel comfortable while dressing. If they dread feeling cold, encourage dressing near a heater. If they want to be naked, talk to them about how they will feel when they turn up to day care and everyone else is clothed.
- When selecting clothing for the day, it is often not a good idea to offer your children a choice, simply because they will pick the most inappropriate attire for the occasion and the weather. Simply select the main outfit yourself and encourage them to wear it while suggesting they have a smaller choice of which hair tie to wear or which socks to wear after they are dressed.
- For older toddlers, encourage self-dressing by holding “competitions” or offering a small surprise for children who dress quickly, such as being able to choose a television program to watch or choosing what toy they will play with next.
- Parents can wash and get dressed by having a regular, interesting distraction to keep children in one place for a short period of time. It is important that this particular morning activity is not used at all for the rest of the day, in order to fully engage the child. Putting the television on, encouraging playing with a toy or some other activity works well if it is only available during your shower time.
Parenting Tips for Children
Timing Is Everything!
- If you don’t have enough time for everything, you will need to get the whole family up earlier until the routine runs smoothly.
- Leave the house at the same time each day. Set the time to allow for traffic jams, children being reluctant to be left at day care and so on. It’s better to arrive at work 15 minutes early and have a coffee than to arrive 30 minutes late and stressed out.
- The best way to hurry young children is to talk about and offer immediate gratification each time they complete a chore fast. The best “prizes” are stickers, pocket money (try the smallest denominated coins) or a choice of activity for now (for example, try “If you get dressed quickly, you can choose a toy to play with before we go.”)
- Try to be very enthusiastic with your child about the things that will happen today. Talk them into it and make it seem like they will have a fantastic day, for example “You’re going to have a great day at school today because you’re picking out two new library books. I can’t wait to see what you’ll choose! Would you like to read them tonight before bed?” Make sure to follow up on all promises or your child will get discouraged.
Parenting Tips for Toddlers
Children love knowing what to expect, so a morning routine that doesn’t change much will help them feel safe and secure. Make sure that waking up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, showering and leaving all happen in the same order every day. Dish out huge amounts of enthusiasm and build up their excitement over things that will happen today and in the future. This will help them to enjoy getting up as they will look forward to the day. With a little practise, organising a morning routine with children will get faster and run more smoothly, allowing you the luxury of sleeping a little longer and feeling much calmer.
Thank You for Reading
Thank you for reading my article about organising a morning routine with children. I hope these tips help you to de-stress in the mornings and get things done on time!
© 2010 Suzanne Day