It’s Thursday morning. Your kids didn’t get out of bed when you woke them up. They didn’t have time for breakfast. Jay lost his socks and Anabelle can’t find her homework, toothbrush, or her glasses. The dog chased a car down the block and while retrieving him, your oldest daughter tripped, fell, and has holes in the knees of her jeans and her arm is bleeding. Your boss called and is insisting you arrive early for work to attend a meeting.
With a quick hug for the kids and frustration building inside of you, you push the kids out the door before the bus takes off without them. You watch them get on the bus and when you turn around, the damn dog looks up at you with his big puppy eyes and you realize you haven’t yet fed him. After pouring some food in his dish, you glance at the clock. You have exactly four minutes and thirteen seconds to get out the door yourself, but you’re in your pajamas, hair is out of sorts, and all you feel like doing is having a good cry.
That’s not possible, though. You have to get to work. You have to pick up Jay early from school so you can get him to the dentist. Then you have to hustle home before the bus drops the girls off and think about what to make for dinner. It’s days like this that has you wishing you weren’t raising your children all on your own. One bad morning every now and then can be tolerated. However, this is a mild morning, considering the previous days this week. It seems like each day that goes by should be getting easier. Instead, they’re getting worse.
The hurried mornings make you feel like a terrible mother. If only you had the time to make life easier for your kids. If only you had someone who could help with the chores or the cooking, or even feeding the dog, it would make you less stressed. Your kids need a change. They deserve to see the good mom that you are more often. What you need is a little discipline and a calendar. Routine. A schedule. Some planning.
But I’m Not Martha Stewart!
Shhh! Just wait. Give us a chance to go over some tips on why it is important to create a routine as well as some ways to go about it. Kids do better when they feel a sense of normalcy. This can be created by putting together a sensible routine that you help manage. We could go on and on about things that work for us or others, but at the end of the day, these are mere suggestions and a guideline for you to tweak, try, and ultimately, figure out what works for you and your kiddos.
Make Mornings Mediocre
Mediocre. It’s better than terrible, and it’s not striving for perfection. You don’t have time for that, right, Martha? First things first. The first part of the day is the best opportunity to get everyone’s mind and mood set in the right direction. Take a few moments right now to think about some things you are willing to let go of. What things could you give up in the mornings so that it doesn’t end up in a wreck? Here are some ideas and maybe a place to start…
Don’t Let The Little Things Cause Stress
* Beds don’t need to be made. Sure, tidy beds may look nice, but is it necessary?
* Let the kids eat lunch at school; you don’t need to pack them a lunch each day.
* Allow your kids to wear what they want.
* Don’t fight about messy hair.
* Cereal is just fine (and a staple) for breakfast.
* Be okay with snacks that are prepackaged.
* No more nagging. It’s easier said than done, but pick your battles. Unnecessary arguments put all moods in the trash and it’s not productive for anyone.
* Let them choose the shoes they want to wear, even if you think they don’t match.
Focus On What Matters
* Wake them up a few minutes earlier than the norm.
* Make sure they are dressed in clean clothes. (You may have to spell it out that this includes clean underwear and socks.)
* Let the dog out and feed him.
* Have the kids eat something for breakfast.
* Assure teeth have been brushed.
* Backpack inspection - homework, snacks, etc. are all accounted for.
* Tell them you love them and give them a hug and kiss before sending them outside to wait for the bus.
* Smile once they’re on the bus and focus on getting yourself out the door for work.
Why A Routine?
* When activities are routine and predictable, kids feel more secure
* Consistency equates to predictability in an ever-changing world
* Kids feel more in control of their environment, thus, safer
* Kids learn what the expectations are and strive to please
* Routines may provide improved mental health and less stress and anxiety
* Helps kids understand the importance of a schedule and sense of time
* Creates a sense of calm in the home
* Kids learn to feel more confident and independent
* Can establish healthy habits
* Helps you remember the important things
* Offers stability during trying or stressful times
Tips To Establish A Routine or Schedule
* Use a calendar (or something similar) as a visual aid
* Set times for baths, bedtime, wake up time, and meals
* Get clothes out the night (or weekend) before
* Plan for meals ahead of time
* Homework should take precedence before free time after school
* Create a chore chart - everyone participates
* Ask children to help with the planning for the week (activities, meals, etc.)
* Schedule play dates
In a world that is constantly changing, it’s absurd to think that even Martha Stewart has it all together all of the time. Don’t have the expectation that every day will be perfect. You can do your best and things may still fall apart before you get the kids on the bus. Expect the unexpected. Don’t fall apart when things around you are falling to pieces. You can adapt. You will adapt. It’s for your kids (and your sanity)!
Whether it’s the middle of the week on a school day, the weekend, or a sunny summer day, it’s important that you use your routines to help guide. Sure, you all deserve some time to relax and have fun, but fit it on the calendar. Plan for it. When opportunity arises, be spontaneous and take the kids to a restaurant or a park. Keep working on being the facilitator of the family routine and bask in the sun shine as it seeps through your windows even on the cloudiest of days.
by Lyric Anders, writer