Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Morning Rescue!

Admit it: getting your kids up and out the door to school each morning is even harder than getting them to bed at night, isn't it? And, if you'd be completely honest, you'd consider just letting them rot in their bed some days rather than face the prospect of the war that usually occurs.

But, there are ways and means to get them critters movin' without water hoses (spraying with, not beating with!) or major deconstruction of the bedroom furniture. Here are seven tips to help you ease your way into the day and help your kids move a little quicker.
  1. Begin early: if your kids are still very young (preschool or kindergarten) NOW is the time to begin a morning routine (see below) to integrate the idea of getting up and at'em before they begin their school daze; if they're already into the hustle, then ...
  2. No thought required: the first order of business is to get rid of as much thinking as possible. Most kids are pretty slow to wake up to full consciousness, so remove the necessity for decisions as much as you can. The key word is ROUTINE! Do the same thing, the same way every day to help them get automated and into a familiar system.
  3. Let there be light! studies agree that we are creatures of light, and light affects us positively. Give your kids a boost by getting lots of light into their room right away. Don't let them wake in a dim room. If the sun's up (it works better than indoor lights), open the shades and let it in! If they're rising in the dark, turn on all their lights. You can get a lot of bright out of some of the newer fluorescent "energy efficient" light bulbs. Use em!
  4. Pre-Package their clothes outfits: Let them help choose their clothes, but do it the night before - or the weekend before! Have each child lay out (with your help) a full outfit for each day: underwear, socks, shirt, pants or skirt, belt, ribbons, etc. Then place each outfit together in a bag. Label the bags with the day's and child's name. They can just grab a bag each morning.
  5. Fast food to go: If you're not using breakfast as a daily family meal, then consider fast food to go. You can pre-make their favorite breakfast sandwich and let them eat it either at the table or in the car on the way. Peanut butter and bananas really is a fairly good breakfast to get a child revved up for first class. Avoid meats and dairy which will tend to slow them down, though.
  6. To reward or not to reward: Some children respond well to rewards, some don't. If yours do, keep a chart of morning successes in the kitchen or other public area and track their weekend rewards.
  7. Last resort: you've heard about it, but do you have the guts to do it? Nothing is more motivational to a child than fear. Just one trip to school in their pajamas is usually enough to get them moving the next mornings. WARNING: don't threaten this if you don't intend to follow through! Also, notify your child's teacher of your possible action so they can assist, not derail your plan.
Of course, no list like this can be fully complete. You may have something that works even better, or you may think of a situation or child type who needs a different type of approach. If so, PLEASE SHARE in the comments. One of the main things to remember in parenting is that we can all work together to make the load lighter!

Happy mornings!

STEPcoach Bob

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