Early morning routines with young kids can often be described as something like visiting a war zone (well that’s what it’s like in our house anyway).
Getting kids up, dressed and organised often requires constant nagging, repeated requests and reminder after reminder. Simple tasks made all the more difficult because either their little ‘wind up key’ hasn’t kicked in yet, or worse yet, they’re already wound up so much they’re bouncing off the walls and struggle to focus on one thing. All the while you’re trying to remember to put a bra on under your shirt and trying not to stab yourself in the eyeball with your mascara brush.
So here’s a couple of tips I thought I’d share that have helped us over the years get ourselves and our boys out the door within a reasonable time frame.
Just a word of warning though, many of these tips a very much on par with the ‘CRAP ethos’ and so won’t be to everyone’s taste, but hey you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t at least a little curious.
So here they are, like them or leave them, 10 CRAP tips for a smooth house exodus in the morning:
1. Pre-dress the kids. Dress them in some (or all) of clothes you want them in the next day. This really only works for youngish kiddies and really only on days when they’re heading to daycare or places where you don’t need them to look like ‘model children’.
Even keeping them in the same singlet or shirt will not only save time on wrestling them into a new outfit, but it will also save on the washing – yay for environmental CRAP.
2. Preparation – Prepare lunches and snacks the night before, have brekkie things ready to go (maybe don’t put the milk in the cereal the night before….), lay out their clothes out ready to dress them in (if they’re not already dressed in them) including shoes and pre-pack school and nappy bags.
Packing lunches during morning ‘rush hour’ leads to a good chance of you smearing one of the kids with Vegemite and packing a spare pair of undies in their lunchbox.
3. Step away from the computer/Smartphone/Ipad. It can be tempting to take a peek at the night’s email/FaceBook/Twitter/DribbleDaily amongst the morning chaos. But be warned, it has the ability to mute the screams and carnage (hmm…..that’s actually not a bad thing…is it?) and slow the momentum towards getting out of the house on time.
4. Teach/let the kids make their own beds if it’s age appropriate. If you’re a clean freak, perfectionist or obsessive compulsive to any degree, the thought of this may leave you in a twitching, writhing heap. But if you need to get out the door within a certain time frame sometimes it’s worth turning a blind eye to lumpy beds and skewiff blankets to save a few minutes.
Eventually the kids will get the hang of it and you never know, they might end up surprising you with their hospital corner prowess. Alternatively you could just learn to close the door without so much as giving the room a sideways glance (practice, practice, practice ;)).
5. Take brekkie with you in the car. Whilst cereal and milk probably isn’t the best mobile brekkie idea, toast, crumpets, sandwiches, fruit etc are perfectly suitable foods on-the-go. Think of things that are less likely to end up smeared through their hair or throughout the car seats during the trip.
6. Routine Routine Routine. I know it sounds against the grain of CRAP but invariably it’s not. A good morning routine – especially on work/school/daycare days makes for predictability and less chance of those ‘but I don’t want to’s. Anything that gets you out the door in the morning without having to take a double dose of Prozac is always good in my book.
7. Make the TV your friend. This particular point (amongst others) will have some people’s eyeballs rolling back in their heads. However a well-timed kids’ TV program in the morning might be just enough to give you a chance to shave BOTH legs instead of getting out of the shower part smooth, part Yettie.
It really does need to be timed appropriately though. After the kids are dressed and ready to walk out the door is a good time to pop the ‘zombie box’ on to buy you a little time to put your ‘face on’, put some nail polish on that ladder in your stocking or pluck that stray chin hair.
8. Pre-exit nappy inspection/toilet check. There’s nothing more frustrating than buckling all troops into the car only to hear that all familiar whine ‘I need to do a wee’ then having to go through the whole process in reverse.
Worse still is having your un-toilet-trained toddler squeeze out a mammoth morning poo that manages to smoosh up between his shoulder blades soon after you’ve popped him into his car seat. Both can generally be prevented with a snappy pre-load inspection/check.
9. Load the car early – Five or so minutes before you’re ready to leave throw the kids in the car (if it’s parked in a safe spot i.e. the garage) using whatever car-loading strategy that works best for you. Getting them into the car a couple of minutes early gives you a moment to finish the dregs of your cold coffee (if you managed to make yourself one) or to do a snappy tidy up before you head off. Note for those that might take every word literally: only follow this tip if it is safe to do so (duh).
10. Remember to breathe. With our two youngest boys acting much like they’ve been injected with a mixture of red cordial and caffeine first thing in the morning and our eldest needing something similar to a cattle prod to effectively complete the smallest of tasks – it can feel like a losing battle to get everyone moving in the same direction.
Take a small moment in the morning to breathe, calm yourself, lower your blood pressure and psychologically prepare for another wonderous but extraordinarily busy day of being a parent and everything that goes along with that.
I have to say that I often find the early morning routine with the kids (particularly when I have to go to work) a real battle. However if I sort my CRAP out and implement at least a few of these simple little strategies (specifically tip 2, 6 and 10) life is a whole lot easier and transitioning the kids from bed to car is less likely to end in tears (from me or them :)).
Do you follow a morning routine when getting the kids out of the house?
Do you have any other tips for getting the kids out of the house smoothly in the morning?