Over at Midwest Parents today, Heather asked the question: how do you tame the morning chaos? Her kids are six, four, and brand-spankin’ new—so I’m going to roll back the tape a few years and you’ll all know how anal I really am.
Step 1: Buy a big bright posterboard. Pretend this is a fun project, because kids love it and you need it. On a separate piece of paper, make a list of all of the things your kids can do themselves in the morning, before they come down for breakfast. Ideas: put on clothes, brush teeth, make bed, put away books, turn off the light (please!). Get out your parenting magazines and have your child clip away. Find pictures to represent the “Good-Morning Jobs” and paste them onto the posterboard, with the name of each job printed just beneath. Hang this in their room(s) so they can take a look each morning and start the day off right. See how you can breathe a little easier already?
Step 2: Buy plastic containers to store cereal, that kids can pour themselves without having the entire box dumped on the table. Buy a small pitcher for the fridge and fill it about halfway with milk, again, so they can pour it themselves. My kids were 3 ½ and 5 when I started this, and they did just fine. I was desperate—trying to nurse my baby, and get the other two ready for school. This one little change saved our mornings.
Step 3: When you tuck the kids into bed, do not turn on Wife Swap, peek into Twitter, or see what Land’s End has on sale this week. Do whatever you can to prep for the morning: if you can live with it, let your kids choose their own outfit and take this one right off your own plate; pre-set the breakfast dishes; make sure the cereal & milk pitchers are ready to go; backpacks and shoes—can you find them? If so, choose your poison: twitter away, find out who’s swapping this week, or buy that sweater. If not, find them. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Step 4: Please note: I am a total hypocrite to suggest this one, as I have never quite mastered it: get up and take a shower before the kids need to be awake. (If they’re up but don’t need to be, let them play quietly for a few minutes while you jump start your day.) The days I do manage this, things go much more smoothly. I think the hot water melts that mean, grumpy feeling I get the second my alarm goes off. And as for the rest of the days, well, ask my friends Janet and Sharee’; I walked with them this morning–no shower first, still quite grumpy.
And on a final, completely unrelated note, I want to point you to mamabirddiaries, who kindly mentioned me last week, was quoted in an ABC News article about Sarah Palin earlier this week, and is one of the most amusing bloggers around. Enjoy!