With the recent changes in rules for arriving on time at Yikes Tikes!, many people have expressed how difficult it is to get out of the house on in the morning. This is an extremely common problem, and if you struggle to get everyone dressed, ready, fed and out the door, you are not alone! Here are some tips to help create smoother morning routines for your family.
- Nail down wakeup time. How long, realistically, does your family need to get out of the house in the morning? It takes my family an hour and a half to get everyone out of the house (including Mom and Dad!). Some families only need half an hour, or even just 15 minutes for those who are truly organized! Get up on time, and be consistent. Consistency with wake-up time will help your kids your child get up on time, too.
- Getting up on time means going to sleep on time. Most preschoolers need between 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. If bedtime is a struggle, try moving lights-out a half-hour earlier in the evening. This will prevent your child from getting a “second wind” that will keep him or her up way late.
- If you have more than one child, staggered wake-up times may help, so that you can get one child ready at a time. Youngest gets up first. On this note, consider waking up an hour before your kids do, so you have a little “me” time to drink your coffee in peace, meditate, exercise, or shower before the crowd rises.
- Promote positive mood and behavior in the morning by starting the day with some cuddle time or physical affection. When people feel loved and cared for, they are more agreeable. It’s much easier to get out the door when kids are following your directives than when they are actively resisting.
- Plan ahead. Spend half an hour the night before taking care of lunches, packing bags, finding shoes, setting up breakfast, and picking out tomorrow’s outfits. Put shoes by the front door. Pack your gym bag. Make sure there’s gas in the car. These seemingly trivial details make the difference between being 15 minutes early and being 15 minutes late in the morning.
- Promote participation and independence. Decide what pieces of the routine children can do themselves (Can they dress? Can they brush teeth by themselves? Hair? ). Talk about the steps of the morning routine the night before, to reinforce it for them. See if they can tell you the steps on their own. This rehearsing makes execution easier.
- Consider using a visual checklist of the steps your child must take to get ready in the morning. Using graphics can be helpful for more visual learners or children with disabilities. Tape it somewhere accessible to your child. Laminating the schedule allows you or your child to make marks next to items as they complete them and then wipe it clean for the next day. Remind your child frequently to refer to their schedule when they don’t know what to do, are finished with the current task, are inattentive, off task, unfocused, distracted, etc
- Turn off the TV! No phones, computers, tablets, or TV in the morning— these electronic distractions will just slow you and your kids down.
- Relax this structure on the weekends. Everyone needs a break now and then!
By Alex Webster Guiney