Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tips for Moderating the Morning Mayhem

I am reading The World Needs Your Kid: Raising Children Who Care and Contribute by Craig Kielburger (from Free the Children), Marc Kielburger and Shelley Page.  It's pretty good - I'll be posting a review of it when I'm done.

One thing that caught my eye is that the first of their "100 Tips to Raise Global Citizens" is:

Early to Rise. Set the alarm twenty minutes early to avoid the morning rush.  With luck, you'll spend less time hustling your kids out the door and more time checking in with them about the day ahead.  Connecting leads to caring.

So true!  I have come to the same conclusion - when I rush in the morning, I get impatient.  When I am impatient, I am not the kind of mom I want to be, and it sets me up for a less-than-ideal day.

However, I've taken a different route to achieving harmony in the mornings.  I don't mind getting up early - in fact, I often set my alarm for an hour before I really need to be moving - but I don't like to get the kids up even one minute earlier than I have to.  I find that squeezing every minute of rest out of them that I possibly can is in everyone's best interest.  So, instead, I've decided to do as much preparation for the coming day as I can the night before.

After baths, when the kids are in their pj's and winding down with a book or some other quiet play (or loud, running play!) I try to accomplish the following:

1.  Shower.  I know this doesn't work for everyone - my husband can't start his day without a shower in the morning - but for me it has made all the difference.

2.  Set out my clothes for the next day.  This way, I get out of bed, brush my hair, get dressed, and - voila! - I'm ready to rock and roll in less than five minutes!  I also get Harry's clothes ready the night before.  As for Bess' clothes...

3.  Have Bess set out her clothes for the next day.  We set up a little morning task station in her room with a mirror, a few hooks for her clothes, and a list of things she needs to do (see photo above).  This has eliminated quite a bit of morning conflict since any arguing negotiating about wardrobe has already been done.

4.  Make lunch.  I know a lot of moms like to send their kids to school with a warm lunch, but for me, that's just too much trouble in the morning.  Instead, when I'm putting away dinner, I make the next day's lunch at the same time, which often includes leftovers.  I also often try to set up some snacks for Harry's morning while I'm at it.

5.  Crock pot breakfasts!  This one has been a new addition to the repertoire, and is my favorite tip for making the mornings run more smoothly.  I like to give my kids a hearty, warm breakfast, but even something as simple as instant oatmeal can take more time than I'm willing to spare.  So now, I set up a simple crock pot breakfast the night before and either turn it on last thing before bed or have John turn it on when he's turning in for the night (he works nights so this is convenient for us), but really, even if you set an alarm to get up and flip the switch at 2 am, I think it still saves you sleep and energy in the long run.

What are your tips for making the morning a prelude to a great day?

I am a scholar-turned-mother/activist who is interested in sustainable living and social justice. I have published a number of articles and given presentations internationally on the topics of voluntary simplicity and humane parenting. Learn more at my website

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