Innovation in morning routines: It’s the little things

I was thinking a lot over the summer about how I could make the morning routine easier during the school year. Those of you who have been reading forever know that I lost at least four levels of complexity in the move from NYC to Michigan: my kids walk across the street instead of all of us taking the subway together for 45 minutes, I am working from home instead of going to an office so no more commute for me (45 minutes plus another 25 minute leg on days I took the kids to school, 65 minutes when it was just me), because of no subway ride we can leave for school 50 minutes later, that means 45 more minutes of sleep for me.

But still, by the end of the school year last year I was feeling pushed by all the stuff I had to do to get the kids out the door. I am tempermentally unsuited to do everything the night before, and have accepted this about myself. But I did shift duties around in time and reassign responsibility, and it's going so well this year.

Here's what we're doing:

1. Final homework check and signing off on assignments we do at night, so everything's packed except lunches. I appraise the lunch and breakfast and clothes situation.

2. The boys are responsible for getting themselves dressed and making their own breakfasts. Once they're dressed and have eaten, they may play video games, and this carrot means I only have to remind them once and they both hop to it. (They're 10.5 and 7.5.)

3. I pack lunches.

4. We sit around chatting about the upcoming day and week for fifteen minutes before they have to leave the house. Super-chill, and they go off happier, and I'm more ready to sit down and work as soon as they leave.

The whole lynchpin of this system is that the kids are making their own breakfast (toast or oatmeal and fruit), and they come out of their rooms dressed.

I feel like a supergenius. What innovations have you made this year that are making things go more smoothly? What thigns are you struggling with that we could help you troubleshoot?

60 thoughts on “Innovation in morning routines: It’s the little things”

  1. Ugh. I thought the biggest morning problem this year would be my 3 y/o who just started school. He’s the easy one (so far). The problem has been the 6 y/o. Maybe I have ridiculously high standards but I just don’t think it should take him 15-20 minutes to get dressed every morning. I have to tell him 27 times before he does it (the repeating myself is it’s own problem, I know…), and I end up frustrated and angry before we’ve even made it downstairs.Surely I can’t be the only one who’s experienced this?
    Our idea is to make his daily TV/video game time contingent on getting dressed within a reasonable amount of time. (We use a token system for screen time and our boys often have lose our gain tokens based on behavior.) I can’t decide if 3 or 5 minutes is where we’ll start. I don’t expect him to jump out of bed and start getting dressed the instant I wake him so he’ll get a little warm up time before the timer starts. Sounds good in theory but we’ll see.
    No school today so we’re starting this tomorrow.

  2. BethB, my 5yo needs lots of reminders too, but she LOVES school, so I use that as a prod to get her going. Also, it helps if I get her clothes out for her and then walk out of the room. She knows I want her dressed when she comes out for breakfast, and she tries to meet expectations.Our biggest relief this year is that my husband drops the oldest off at K, so I don’t have to get the other 2 up and dressed in time for school they’re too young to attend. Big improvement over last year.

  3. Our 9yo son is an angel in the morning. He usually wakes up (at 6AM) on his own, and he does all his morning work promptly so he can chill with a book until it’s time to leave.Our 6yo daughter, however, routinely drives us all nuts. She requires not only an alarm clock (set to the classical radio station) but also a mommy or daddy to get her out of bed. Then she lollygags through the *entire* morning. She cannot seem to start–or finish–any task without 62 reminders. The reminders get increasingly terse, of course, and then she turns on the sassafrass, which ticks off me and my husband, and eventually at least 1 person is in tears. She holds up the departure most mornings (we drive the kids to school), making her brother late even though he was ready WAY ahead of time.
    Heeelllllpppp mmmeeeeee! Please. :/

  4. The biggest help has been my son’s new alarm clock (which is actually his cell phone – which we got for him after we realized he was really ready to explore WorldCon on his own if he’d had a way to get a hold of us easily.)He enjoys having time to himself before school in the morning, so he gets up and gets dressed before we’re up.
    Other big help has been limiting the amount of time to dither.

  5. It’s not really an innovation, and it’s not really small, as it’s a big change for us, but this year is the first year I’m around to help with the morning routine. I used to be gone by the time everyone else got up! I get up first and start the lunches, and get the girls their breakfast. Then DH takes over the lunch duty. With a fair amount of prodding and stumbling around they get dressed, hair brushed, etc. I leave, and DH does the final send-off. We’re both really liking this tag-team method, and mornings (after some initial bumpiness) have been rolling pretty smoothly.

  6. 6 is KILLING me. I guess the elders were like this too when they were 6, but I have blotted that out of my memory. The elders take care of themselves entirely, but the little one whines, whinges, delays, dawdles, ‘forgets’ how to put on a shirt, ‘can’t’ find shoes, etc.Thanks for the reminder that he is a regular 6, not a child constitutionally unable to care for himself. I was beginning to worry.

  7. School doesn’t start until 9:15, and we leave the house about 8:45, and the kids are usually up at 7. Current innovations: if they are ready to go by 8:15 or so, we have time to read a chapter of our current read-aloud book before we leave. Great carrot for my kids (no video games or TV during the week.)Casper (9) can and loves to make oatmeal on the gas stove (!) for herself and her brother.
    With a little verbal guidance, especially for Dillo (6), both of them can make their own lunches.
    Me not working has actually made a huge difference in their autonomy. When I was working we all left the house at 7:30, which meant I basically hauled them out of bed, picked out the clothes (and often manually dressed Dillo), made their breakfasts, and packed their lunches, and we ran out the door. Now we have time for me to teach (and help as needed) them to do all that.

  8. my girls are allowed to watch a show in the morning, provided they are eating. they stop chewing, the tv goes off. it’s amazing how they will remind each other to keep eating so they don’t loose their tv priveledge! during that time, I pack the lunches and drink my coffee, and then out the door we go. I wear my running clothes and go running after I drop them off, or come home and run on the treadmill.

  9. We have the TV carrot in the mornings. If 5yo leaves the breakfast table to dress himself, brush his teeth and wash his face, there is time for TV. If not, there isn’t. We have homework (!) done and packed away the night before, and we also do our best to make lunches at night, but DH and I still take care of that. Also, he gets two choices for breakfast every morning, since we used to have endless discussions about that.Another thing that helps us is I don’t do clothing or food arguments. Don’t want to wear a jacket? Be cold. (I am in SoCal so this isn’t exactly child abuse.) Want to be mismatched? Fine – as long as it doesn’t break school rules. Done with breakfast even though you only ate two bites? OK – but you won’t get anything else.
    Can’t wait to implement some of the above suggestions as they get older!

  10. Not an innovation and nearly five year old daughter still needs to be liberally coated in eczema emollients all over, so dressing independence is a bit limited( you need to get the clothes on immediately over the cream so no itching and optimum effect. So mega fail on that.But I used to get everything all done the night before. Not make the lunch but get all ready for it etc. etc. Which is very good organisation. Did all that when we went to all day preschool last term before the summer to prepare.
    Except it took a long time.
    And I hit the wall pretty much at 10PM. Whereas I am at my best in the morning and we live within walking distance of the school that starts at nine.
    I do still lay all clothes out etc. but now do the lunch, snack for school as allergic, write the note to teacher, the gym kit etc. in the morning. Who knew. It takes a quarter of the time I used to take in the evening.
    So innovation it’s not but the morning routine now is so much more relaxed. That part success.

  11. I realize by 2 year old is way too young to do most of this stuff on her own, but my Lord, we need a new morning routine! I am NOT a morning person, which doesn’t help, and she is very very strong willed and also NOT a morning person. Hubby has to be at work earlier than me and I’m usually calling him in tears an hour later because Little Bit refused to go potty, refused to get dressed, refused to brush teeth, refused to get in her car seat, etc, etc. I know part of this is feeding off me bc I don’t like mornings, but even if I give her more time to lounge and wake up slowly, it’s still a fight. (even on the weekends, getting dressed is just.no.fun) TELL ME it gets better!!

  12. 1-Our current main improvement is to get up one hour and a half before we actually have to leave for school (this is a big time buffer). So even if our 7 year old son (an only child)is found with his toothbrush in his mouth, reading a book on the floor in his bedroom, I can simply remind him to look up his “routine” (taped to the wall in his bedroom and the bathroom) and then let it go for another 5 minutes. Having this much time to get ready in the morning changes the whole dynamic and atmosphere. This way I nag and repeat a lot less, and he is slowly getting the idea of doing the same things every morning to be ready on time. On the few odd times that we do get ready ahead of time, we leave anyway and he goes to the school daycare (same price if he goes morning and after school or only after school). He gets to play for 10-20 minutes and we get to work earlier (I am a scientist so more time to work is always good).2-Our previous improvement was to ask him to dress before coming for breakfast. I took that from Moxie’s blog a while ago. I also use it on myself (priceless advice).
    3-I stopped taking care of little things in the house in the morning (folding a bit of laundry, cleaning up the living room, writing things on the grocery list). Somehow I always ended up being the last one ready…hum I wonder why…

  13. Dh and I are both self-employed at home. Our 4 year-old son just started pre-k after being home with us his whole life. This means that for the first time since well before my son was born we have someone in the house that has to be somewhere at a certain time most mornings of the week. We also have specific dietary restrictions now (gluten free), so I usually cook some sort of egg breakfast. Not impossible, but sort of time consuming.I found a great grain free pancake recipe (no really). I make a double or triple batch on Sundays and freeze them. I’ll throw a frittata in the oven Wednesday evening and that will get us through the rest of the week. It is heavenly. I thought our days of grab and go breakfasts were gone.
    We lay out my sons clothes the night before and help him get dressed as soon as he wakes up. I finally figured out to get the four year old as ready as soon as possible because rushing him makes us both insane. So on school mornings he is dressed to his shoes as soon as he is vertical. At the moment he still needs a little help dressing. Since I’m driving it, it does get done when I want it done. We’ll see how well my system works when he has a little more autonomy.

  14. My DS, 4.5, started “school” this year (pre-school), and it starts at 8:25am, long before any of us would willingly be out of the house. So it’s an adjustment and he and my husband, who does dropoff, are routinely making it in seconds flat. However, it could be worse. We made his screen time contingent on peeing, being dressed and having teeth brushed, which we made it clear he has to do himself (we pick out the clothes, though). This has helped a great deal though we then often face the near-meltdown over only having time to watch one 3-minute video of model trains on YouTube. But that’s okay. At least he’s dressed and ready to go when the meltdown happens.

  15. We have been through a few adjustments at various times to make things smoother around getting dressed on pre/school mornings. At around 2 or 3 years old, the kids slept in the clothes for the next morning. Then we changed their clothes WHILE they watched 10 mins of TV. TV worked well in the morning for ages, and then we had to stop it because it actually made things harder. Now the kids are 6 and 4, and we have changed to letting them get dressed after breakfast and playtime. We do it downstairs, and there is an adult to help.The main thing we have to change is to add in morning toothbrushing for the kids. (I am sure that this is not a choice that everyone feels comfortable with, but we dropped morning tooth-brushing years ago.)
    Also I shower in the evenings and not in the mornings, and I don’t check email etc. before the kids are at school.
    The only thing that has helped the constant low-blood-sugar-related sibling bickering is reading stories to them as they eat their breakfast. It stops furious yelling from all 3 of us while my husband showers and dresses.
    And when my older son started school, taking the 3 year old in the ergo carried on my back, rather than in a stroller, really helped. I could focus fully on the Kindergartner and the younger one felt snug and secure and wasn’t running around the school or whining.
    I feel that we are so lucky, with two parents home to tag-team in the mornings, short walks to the pre/school, and pretty flexible jobs. We have had to make so many adjustments to ease our ‘easy’ mornings, so huge applause for all families with more difficult circumstances to the morning hours.

  16. @Devin, what about letting her sleep in clothes she can wear the next day? She’s not going to get dirty as she sleeps, and as long as they’re soft, flexible things (like leggings and a cotton shirt), she’ll be comfortable in them. You only need to think of unique solutions for a short period of time–she will hit the next phase soon enough and then everything will be, “I do it!” as she insists on picking out her own clothes and putting them on.Otherwise, limit the battles as you can. Go silly when nothing else works. I have done everything from only singing my requests in the morning, to letting the kids pretend they’re animals, to enlisting the “help” of a favorite puppet or stuffed animal to get my kids dressed. If they’re laughing, they’re not resisting.
    For my household, the biggest difference this year has been the no TV/no computer in the morning rule. We are all much more serene, there seems to be more time suddenly, the kids are in better moods, etc. They’re 6 and 3, and could never decide on what to watch, then wouldn’t eat while they were watching, etc. This morning they pretended they were dogs while they ate breakfast (complete with eating the cereal like a dog would).
    Also, and this only works if you live close to your school, but walking or bike riding to school every morning with one of us has helped my son immensely. The 10 minutes of being outside and doing some physical work puts him in a much better frame of mind than sitting in a car.

  17. It is a little thing, but it was so hard for me to let go and I don’t know why. The 9 yr old used to fight with me about clothes all.the.time. She would make me crazy, purposely choosing things that are not seasonally appropriate and mismatching. I decided for all of our sanity I needed to quit engaging her in the power struggle. Now I only require seasonally appropriate (tell her what the weather forecast is) and do not care if she matches or not.Also, my 6 yr old boy apparently acts like everyone else’s, thank goodness it is not just mine!

  18. Ok, I’m relieved to see everyone else’s 6 y/o is impossible too. I’ve been concerned as our transition to 1st grade has been a bit rough emotionally. We’re at a Montessori school so it’s a new classroom (After 3 years in the same primary room), being the little kid in the room again, and being on the Big Kids Playground at recess. We’ve been getting a lot of “I hate school” with no other explanation and we’ve had some Drama around home with him too. Most of his friends are the same way so I can’t wait for this transition to be older.@Danielle, I don’t fight over clothes either. Unless it’s scary cold (we’re in Wisconsin). What I’ve always found interesting is how much it *bothers* people, especially older women, when my kids aren’t dressed what they deem warm enough. We’ve gotten so many comments when it’s 45 degrees in March and my son is walking around without a coat. Really people? He’s not going to freeze. I’m not an idiot. I’m simply choosing my battles so when I do insist on certain dress he’s more likely to listen.
    So I tell myself.

  19. We made a big switch just 2 weeks ago & so far, it’s working like a charm.Took stock of what the problem areas were in the morning with 6 yo dtr. Old system: get woken up by parent at 6:20, whine/dither about what to eat for breakfast, get reminded a gajillion times to keep eating, then upstairs at 6:50 to get dressed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, so out the door at 7:10. Mom was exhausted by the time the door closed, because it was Mom’s job to get kiddo out the door with Dad to get to the bus on time. Dad made lunch, some breakfast, but Mom had the stress.
    New routine:
    Alarm clock goes off at 6:20. Kiddo is to get herself dressed before she comes downstairs (if we’re really good, we’ve set out clothes together the night before, or Mom gives weather-related suggestions). She comes downstairs at 6:50, ready to eat. Then back upstairs only for toothbrushing & hair. Out the door at 7:10. Mom MUCH less stressed.
    The key was realizing that perhaps insisting she eat as.soon.as.she.got.up was the problem. Eating 30 minutes after getting up has made her more speedy/less whiny/dithering about eating. If she plays for a while in her room while getting dressed, I’m not having to watch so I’m not getting aggravated.
    Today she asked for braids in her hair, but using Love & Logic response, Not today, not enough time. If you get dressed faster tomorrow, perhaps we’ll have time.

  20. This is the first real time we have put some responsibility on one of the kids. Since DS started Kindergarten it seemed like time.We have a before bed checklist and a before school checklist. It’s in a cheep colorful ikea picture frame. I just wrote out the steps with a check box and for the first week we went through it checking it off with a dry erase marker. He liked it. Now we reference it if he’s dragging his feet a bit or struggling.
    He dresses himself, and must be dressed before he comes down stairs. He sets out his clothes the night before. If we had food ready right then it would be great, but we have been struggling with that. In theory we said he had to put his folder (with “homework” and notes) along with snack and water bottle in his backpack himself, but we have been doing it to give him more time to eat before we rush him out.
    An hour should be enough time… but it’s not. I am thinking we need to bump up our awake time so breakfast is ready when he gets downstairs… I hate rushing him to eat.
    I also tend to brush his hair/put on his shoes/jacket while he is eating/watching TV… he’s doesn’t really fight me and it speeds it up… I dream of someday all of that being on his and me sleeping in! HA!

  21. My almost six year old also now comes out his room dressed and with his bed made. He packs his lunch (with my help) the night before. Those two little things have made a big difference.

  22. Our big innovation this year (which I mentioned in the “how much does your kid sleep” thread) is that Mouse now has an alarm clock, one of those rollaway ones where you can snooze once and then you have to chase it. Getting her out of her snug warm bed and getting her blood moving has always been the snag in our morning (none of us are morning people). We also did some fiddling and set it about 10 minutes before I had been waking her (to much drama and conflict). So now, it goes off at 7:50, she gets up and chases it at 7:55, gets herself dressed (she’s allowed to come hang out with me on the couch where I’m doing morning email if she wants) and we all have breakfast at 8:30. Whichever parent has a minute makes breakfast – adults have PB&J toast, Mouse has whatever 2-week kick she’s on, currently a cheese sandwich and fruit. Bus comes between 8:48 and 8:52. Reading is allowed at breakfast, but no video.

  23. One of our five year-old twins is impossible in the morning.Two things have helped—a dinky alarm is the first one. For some reason, she feels more in control of waking up if the alarm does it than if one of us does it.
    The other thing is that we made a check-list and stuck it in one of those presentation-files (it clips in, has clear plastic on the front, opaque plastic on the back, is relatively flat), and then gave her a dry erase marker. She LOVES this.
    She’s really motivated by being in control, and the way we’d been doing things before, with barking orders and rushing her natural pace, was just backfiring.

  24. Two words: Written Checklist.It took about two hours to produce. It lists what the kids are expected to do each day, morning and evening. It’s different for each day of the week and includes things like “check ballet bag” and “feed dogs” and “math practice” and “PE day – sneakers”. If mom says to do it, it’s nagging and annoying and if the list says to do it, it’s just the way it is and look how cool it is that I’m all independent and stuff.
    Other interesting details. My 6 month old wakes up around 5/5:30 to nurse (and goes back to sleep in our bed after a half hour or so on a perfect day). My husband leaves for the office at around 6 am. I work in my PJs (from home, obviously) from 6 to 7:30. The big kids (1st and 3rd grade) usually get up around 7:15 (but can sleep until 8 if that’s what they need) and the baby anytime between 6:30 and 7:30. At 7:30 I put the computer away and change and dress and feed the baby. If there’s time, whoever’s up and wants to can get a little cuddle time on the couch.
    At 8 I start breakfast and we all start our lists. (I unload the dishwasher, make lunches, prep dinner, write checks for deliveries, sign school paperwork, etc.) Breakfast is usually served around 8:15 and lasts 10 or 15 minutes. Usually the kids are dressed by then, and have done some of their other tasks. If they’re totally ready, they can play a little Animal Crossing, although usually they don’t have time. I clean up from breakfast and pack lunches up. At 8:55, they walk out the door to the bus.
    For right now, I put the baby down for a nap at 9, dress and brush my teeth (I almost never shower at home during the week — I do it at the gym, which I go to from work). The nanny arrives around 9 and I walk out the door at 9:15, arrive at the office at 10. The baby starts at daycare in a month or so, though, and once that happens, I’ll need to be ready to leave at 9 so I can drop him at daycare, which is on my way.
    I cook hot breakfast (scrambled eggs or sausage, cereal or toast, fruit and juice) in the morning because I just *do* that’s why (everyone always asks me this, but I’ve done it since the youngest one was eating ground oatmeal in her high chair and we still have oatmeal about 3 mornings a week and we just *do* that’s why!). With soccer and ballet and gymnastics and art and PTA and other evening commitments, breakfast is ussualy our best, biggest, healthiest meal of the day and often the closest we get to eating all together as a family. I’ve done it so long now I don’t even feel like it takes much extra time (though on the mornings we grab a banana and a baggie of shredded wheat, I can tell that we have a little extra time).
    I read this and it all sounds like a little insanity, but it actually is very reasonably-paced and the cuddle time between 7 and 8 sort of sets the mood for the morning and it’s actually sort of my favorite couple of hours of the day sometimes.

  25. Lots of great suggestions here, especially having the next day’s breakfast all teed up, the lunches packed, and the outfits laid out the night before; or if that fails, sleeping in tomorrow’s clothes. Genius.My 4.5 y.o. and 2.5 y.o. need to be at Montessori by 8:10am. Last Spring, when we were doing pretty much all of the above but our 4.5 y.o. still kept being continually late getting out the door for school, we finally decided to enlist the school’s help. We asked for a conference with us, our son, and the teacher, and asked that the school help us hold our child accountable for tardiness – it never came to that because… our son finally realized that since he was the last kid to arrive to school everyday it meant he was missing all the super fun playground time before school starts. That was enough to motivate him to get in the car promptly. Now he’s the first one dressed and waiting for us every morning.
    If we ever experience tardiness like that again, we’ll definitely enlist the school’s “help” again.

  26. Our mornings are going MUCH better this year but I don’t take any credit for it. The main reasons are that my daughter is 9 now (almost), and her new school requires uniforms, so getting dressed is MUCH easier.I admit to feeling inadequate reading about everyone else’s self-sufficient 9 year olds… mine doesn’t make her own breakfast OR lunch or for that matter eat them without prompts and reminders (not as many as last year though), and she also doesn’t do a lot of other things that I suspect she “should”, if I were a better mother.
    However, it’s better to compare her now to herself in the past, and by that measure she’s doing really well. What I’m really curious about is the other end of the day. We have a really hard time fitting everything in: dinner, homework, music practice, bath, relaxation/downtime, and on days with after school activities or appointments, something has to go. My daughter is still quite slow at transitions, but even if she weren’t I’m not sure how to take some of the pressure off and still keep on top of everything. And her school is *very* light on homework (notwithstanding the Great Diorama Disaster of September ’12.

  27. I’m lucky that hubby is not working now and is an early person so he typically takes the morning routine, or at least gets it going. We have a 3yo who is acting very much like a 3yo and she needs to be at preschool exactly at 8:40 so this is somewhat challenging.What works for us is to get her dressed all the way to her shoes as soon as she wakes up, and tell her she can only play once she’s dressed and had breakfast. We may even allow 10-15 min of TV occasionally, which is a great motivator 🙂
    But that means she has to get dressed (she still needs help), drink her soy milk and eat *something* for breakfast before play or TV. She understands that if she’s slow, then she’ll lose out on playtime. (Well, we have to remind her.)
    We have to pack her lunch daily and give her an assortment of small things that are (mostly) ready to go – a handful of olives, some grapes, an applesauce cup, etc. and then the only thing we have to make is half a sandwich so it’s pretty quick.
    She also needs warnings before we need to leave (you have 3 minutes to play, etc) or else we have a meltdown. So we aim to get out the door by 8:30 to allow for a bit of time – her preschool is fortunately right down the street, so we don’t need much travel time.

  28. I’m just trying to figure out how to have a routine with my 3 year old and 7 week old. With the older one, we had a routine and schedule, but with the new baby, I’m finding it hard to juggle and get out of the house earlier in the day. I think the answer is planning some things that force to get to a certain place at a set time (the two days a week my daughter goes to pre-school make that happen; maybe a couple of playdates/library programs would make that happen the rest of the week. I did something out of the house every morning with my daughter; I just have to find the energy to do that again with the two kids. I know it’ll get easier, but I don’t want to shortchange the older one right now.

  29. @Shoshana – I’m about to have #2 in 6 days so will be in the same boat, but our older one goes to preschool 4 mornings a week so that forces the schedule. Our daughter *likes* having more lazy Friday/weekend days, where we’re not running around, at least in the mornings so I’m hoping that continues when the baby is here. 🙂

  30. @shoshana, I found having play dates really helped. I am an extrovert and so is my older one, so we were both motivated to leave the house! I also got my husband to help with packing the diaper bag and loading the stroller and bag into the car before he left for work. This usually meant I was nursing the babe, and asking him to do certain things, (or barking orders – depending on the morning) which he did with the 2.5 year old on his back. One thing he really helping with was making sure there was a drink and snacks for me.(I hadn’t thought about this for so long, but it just came back to me so vividly.)

  31. On mornings: I used the kitchen timer to send the message about finishing breakfast in a reasonable amount of time (10 minutes).I would love to see a discussion on evenings — these just kill me! The rush of pick-up, short playtime, bath time, dinner time, family time, bed time is so hard after an exhausting day.

  32. My kids (5.5, 7.5)start school at 8.55 and there is now a 15+ minute commute, so we must be out of the house by 8.25 to get there in good time.Evenings, bags are packed, waters topped up. Kids have a cooked lunch at school, so no lunches to prepare.
    We are all up by 7.00. I prefer an early rise so nothing is rushed. Breakfasts( which are a combined effort) take at least 20 minutes and then the actual morning routine takes place.
    This is complicated by the fact that my son has to vent energy and fool around in the process. Sure the tv carrot would undoubtedly work, but they already watch enough tv in the evening and sometimes they need to finish up homework if we have an extracurricular activity in the afternoon.
    When they are both in the bathroom or bedroom getting ready, it is pure mayhem. The only thing that works at this point is physically seperating them. This shaves 10 minutes or more off the mornig routine. By 8.00, they are dressed and reaDY TO play or do last minute h’work, which will take a quarter of the time it takes in the afternoon.

  33. When is an appropriate age to implement something like a check list for morning routines? we have a nearly-4-yo and a 1.5 yo and I think the 4-yo is almost ready for something like that. he also has to wear a uniform for nursery school (a proper one too…don’t ask, we live in england.)when is a good age to start?

  34. @bonnie, I am in England and the upside of the uniform is that there’s no arguing about clothes.My daughter has problems with change and transition so to help her the pre-school made her social stories.
    Sounds grand, it’s just a thin folder with printed sheets of simple text and downloaded pictures or photos of the school to set out the new sequence of changed routine. She was just turned 4 then.
    We then read them to her at home and the staff did at school. This worked so well I copied the concept for the annual dreaded allergy blood test visit, and for her night time and morning routines.
    To add more to the routines I add an extra sheet. Like when she does things for herself now, or when we need to do additional things.
    I have one for moving to own room in preparation now. We have swimming class. Also going on holiday one. It works for us.
    I know she’s not typical, but a simple chart with pictures of the steps of the morning routine works very well for several of my friends with children the same age.
    It also helps to speed things up, because it becomes a more automatic sequence. And she can watch Timmy Time on Cbeebies( sheep who goes to school on the BBC) before she goes to school. She turns it on and off herself and puts her shoes on.
    That only works because she expects it to exactly happen like it. At other times if she wants to watch for longer she’ll try to change our mind. Yup picture of Timmy time and photo of her school shoes on that page.
    Sounds a bit strange all of this, sorry.

  35. @bonnie, I started a version of the checklist when my kids were 3 1/2 and 5. I used index cards and wrote the chores on them and there was a pile for each kid. The 5 yo could kinda-sorta read they both essentially memorized the cards. If I’d been a little more on the ball, I would have used something visual (stickers? drawings?) to represent the chores, but by the time I got around to it, they seemed to be doing fine with the chores.If you have more than one using the index cards, it’s helpful to color code them. I just used little baskets (I bought some magnetic ones that hang on the fridge) — one per kid — and put their to-dos in there the night before. They pulled them out as they did them and when the basket was empty, they were all done.

  36. Huh, Wilhelmina, Zoe just loves Timmy Time too, even if I think she is a bit too old for it. Then again, Noah still watches Night Garden and has asked me to buy him a MaccaPacca doll for his 8th birthday!

  37. I have 3 girls, 5, 3.5 and 1.5 plus I am 6 months pregnant. Things that have worked for us:1) the older 2 choose their clothes the night before and I take them down to the kitchen. Getting dressed before breakfast doesn’t work for us as they end up wearing their breakfast and need changing. Clothes on straight after eating. I don’t care what they wear as long as its seasonally appropriate (no uniforms).
    2) I have a picture chart of all the things they have to do in the morning eg go to the toilet, eat breakfast, get dressed, do hair, teeth, shoes on, coats on etc. I drew the pictures, they are lame, but the girls love it and it’s helped so much, I do far less nagging.
    3) no tv in the mornings and I try to tidy away the toys so there are no distractions (usually fail at this).
    4) shoes, clothes and coats always put in the same place the night before so no mad hunts in the morning.
    5) breakfast laid out the night before.
    6) classical music in the car on the way to school – we are all far calmer than with my preferred pop/ rock.
    7) we have to get to the car park for school early to get a place, so I have picture books in the car to read if we have time to kill.
    It’s working pretty well so far, but my brain is fried trying to think of how I’ll manage all this plus a new born in January. I’ll have to wake the poor kid to eat at 6am is all I can think of. Also, the logistics of car park to school 1 bamboozle me, we have to go through very busy car park, cross a busy road and wait at the school gates for the entry bell. At the moment I have youngest daughter in the pushchair, middle daughter on the buggy board and eldest holding the pushchair. Do I use my sling for baby or get a double buggy to get us all safely there and back?? Any ideas gratefully received…

  38. Things we’re doing that are working (kids are 3 and 5.5, both go to daycare/school all day):- making lunch the night before & putting in the fridge in lunch bag
    – checking weather for the next day (!) **important when laying out clothes, finding rain boots, sun hats, etc. ahead of time.
    – laying out clothes the night before. 5-yo gets dressed on his own about half the time… working on that.
    – straw sippy cups of juice + water in fridge the night before (for quick low-sugar remedy to avoid meltdowns)
    – backpacks are checked and reloaded the night before, after kids are in bed
    – monthly calendar printed and placed in a binder on the kitchen counter! Activities, school schedules, etc are added as needed. Calendar is checked after supper – any special things needed (eg, ‘show & tell’) are gathered and placed in backpacks.
    – TV show during breakfast so mommy & daddy can get ready for work
    – Check menu & take items out for supper that night, in the morning. Plan to buy missing ingredients that day as needed.
    Not ideal, still some snags daily (like brushing 3-yo girl’s crazy curly hair… battle), but generally works and if we follow the plan, few things are forgotten…
    @Claire – definitely get a carrier/sling for baby! Love my Moby wrap. Double stroller might be more work than it’s worth.

  39. My 3 year old started preschool this year. Before now, we have both been at home together. This is the first year that we’ve had something regularly scheduled first thing in the morning. He is SUPER independent and loves to do things himself. I get up first and get through the shower and dressed before I wake him at 730. I made him a morning schedule in an excel spreadsheet using clip art pictures and put words next to them. He can’t read, but I figure he can start associating the words with the pictures at some point. This has kept me from nagging because the schedule states what to do next. We eat breakfast together at the table. We brush our teeth together. He gets dressed, puts on shoes, jacket and backpack while I finish getting ready. We both like that we can get ready simultaneously so neither of us has to get up much earlier, and he is so proud of himself for being independent and not needing a lot of help.We also have a magnetic responsibility chart that we fill in before bed. He gets a reward for having it mostly filled in. That’s how I keep him accountable for good behavior, doing his “chores”, following directions, etc. Granted we don’t have homework, a backpack or lunches to pack yet, I’m hopeful this routine will continue to work once he goes to school full time.

  40. I feel like a genius because, out of desperation about reminding my kids 200 times to do things they needed to do, I created a checklist for each kid. Now they race around getting their checklist checked off and all I say is ” Is your checklist complete. My kids are 7 and 8. This has been a HUGE lifesaver for me.

  41. Oh yes. Let’s talk about evenings now. I feel a bit more on top of that one. 🙂 We suffered a lot of evening chaos & stress last year with the then-8yo. This year he’s still busy with homework and extracurriculars, but we have drawn some lines in the sand that help us get everything done and still have playtime.

  42. I’m so late to this conversation but I have to ask, how do you get them to turn OFF their video games in order to talk to you for 15 minutes? I know that would be a hangup in my household. “I.. just… have… to… hangon… get to a Save spot….” ARGH.I’d like to reverse my kids’ current routine so the TV watching is only AFTER they are dressed, but otherwise, our mornings go pretty smoothly.
    can’t wait to read the other comments.

  43. Ohhh yes- the lynchpins! I learned very early on (toddler years) that they had to be fully dressed including socks (but no shoes) before coming downstairs to breakfast. Early on I got containers to hold cold cereal and put them on a low shelf with their plastic bowls etc, and had milk in a kid friendly container, so that they could get their own cereal. I was always there in the kitchen, making lunch etc, but they did it all themselves. I make big breakfasts/brunch on the weekends, but during the week they are on their own!I never wanted to get in the morning TV habit, so I generally woke them up so that we left only enough time to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and go!

  44. Nana – I am thinking that Colt is one of the CUTEST liltte boys around!He could be the next Ralph Lauren Kids .any advertising connections out there; call Nana!

  45. I LOVE THIS GAME!!!!! it gives u alot of gems iuf u win 1st place like 200 gems i play this to win gems so i can save up for stuff i saved up for a treehouse on this

  46. Um, I would really pferer that we not compare ourselves to the corn. No one comes out really well. (Not to slur the corn or anything, Clare it’s beautiful stuff.)Left by on October 6th, 2005

  47. I’m so glad y’all agreed on mya0picks!! I agree Kendall I loved Reese’s dress as well… I need to find a ptriuce ofa0it! And Sara I found a ptriuce of Emily Blunt & she looked reallllllllly washed out & bad, weird b/c on TV she looked beautiful!Emily I totally agree, Penelope is starting to look like Valentino & Donatella Versace-waaaay too orange!And Sara & Emily get excited Worst Dressed is next!

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  50. Your child isnt going to die if you stop breastfeeding ya know. Ive never unodtsroed why parents act like they HAVE to.If hes not getting enough and its causing you and him stress than just stop! Formula is healthy too. Its not like your feeding him mountain dew.Do whatever works for you your baby and if that means formula, theres NOTHING wrong with that.

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