The morning chaos. In a home with 4 children, this is a very real thing for us.
Shouts from bickering siblings. Puddles of sticky, spilled milk. Cereal crunching underfoot. A crying baby. Your own tears of frustration.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Our mornings are not always perfect, but I believe strongly in the methods we’ve established. On the ideal morning (we get these every so often!), our kids are dressed, fed, and prepared for school, without any fighting or tears, and even with a little extra time to play! Here are my top tips for developing a morning routine at home!
6 Ways to Get Rid of the Morning Chaos
1. Eliminate Screens
No screens in the morning, period. Kids are too easily distracted by videos and games to focus on getting ready and being prepared for their day. If you find yourself constantly hollering at your young ones to put away their tablets and get dressed, you might want to consider making this a hard and fast rule. No. Screens. In. The. Morning.
If that’s not your style, let them have screens only when they are completely ready. Honestly it could be a huge motivator. Some mornings my 9-year-old son wakes me up to let me know that he’s completely ready (but we still have the rule, so he gets to play or read). Just reacting positively and praising him for getting himself all ready makes him want to do it again and again.
2. Put Shoes Away
I can’t tell you how many mornings we were frantically searching for a lost shoe when it was time to leave. We still sometimes do. But we have “shoe bins” in the kids’ rooms, and we constantly remind them to put their shoes away. If they have a spot for their shoes, and consistently use it, they’ll always find them!
3. Use a Smart Kids Clock
This is great for kids who get up too early (or too late). We bought this alarm clock for kids (which doubles as a nightlight), when our kids were consistently waking up (and getting up!) before 6am, but couldn’t tell time yet. You can adjust the settings so that it emits a yellow light from bedtime until you want them getting up, at which point the color turns to green. If they awake early, they know to stay in bed until they get the green light.
You can also set the alarm to ring, if you have the opposite problem and need to make sure kids are awake by a certain time.
4. Use catchy sayings
It gets tiring, reminding kids over and over again to do everything they need to do in the morning. If you can condense it to a quick, easy-to-remember phrase, they will be more likely to remember what they need to do, and it’s easy for you to remind them.
In the morning, our kids are expected to get themselves some breakfast (see #5!), get dressed in their school uniforms, brush their hair and teeth, wash their face, put on socks and shoes, and put a snack in their backpack. That’s a lot for little ones!
So when I say “teeth, face, hair,” they know they need to head to the bathroom and take care of those three things. I can say it as a reminder, or to check if they have done it. If I say “socks, shoes, snack?” They might say, “I still need to put my snack in my backpack.”
5. Simplify Breakfast
I’m a lot of things. But I’m not a mom who makes breakfast. Have I ever felt guilty about this? Sure, sometimes. But I’m not going to change.
Sometimes on the weekends we’ll have eggs or biscuits, but during the week, it’s make-your-own! My kids can toast frozen waffles, pour a bowl of cereal, grab a granola bar, open up a yogurt and/or applesauce, etc.
I do help if they need it. I don’t expect my 4-year-old to pour his own milk onto his cereal. But the more independent they can be, the easier our mornings go!
And what about Mom?? Moms need breakfast too.
I skip it too often, but lately I’ve been enjoying Dannon Light & Fit® Yogurt Drinks. They are tasty, full of nutrition, and SO easy to grab, on the way out the door.
I can enjoy my breakfast in the drop-off line (and truth be told, I often enjoy these in the pick-up line, too, to help with that mid-afternoon slump and get in my daily protein)!
Wanna try them out? Here’s an ibotta offer for $1 off the 4-pack of Dannon Light&Fit at Walmart.
6. Always hug and say goodbye
No matter how your morning goes, never forget to hug your kiddos and tell them you love them. I always get in a last hug as they are getting out of the car at school.
One morning my 6-year-old daughter and I were frustrated with each other about something, but I still hugged her and told her I loved her, even if she was mad at me. Well, that stubborn little girl exited the car, without one word to say to me! Stone. Cold.
But I know my hug was important to her anyway. She needs to know that even if we are mad at each other, our family will always love one another.
I hope these tips help your mornings go a little more smoothly this school year. You’re doing a great job, Mom, sticky puddles of milk and all! Keep it up!