Morning routines still become one of the biggest challenges every day. Out of my six kids, I have raised four of them because two of them are my stepdaughters, so of the four that I’ve raised, morning and evening routines have probably got to be the most stressful that I’ve encountered thus far in parenting. Let me tell you what I did to resolve this. I was able to figure out what it was that they needed. Number one is that I gave into story guidance. I would tell them the night before what tomorrow was going to look like. What are we going to do first? I would ask them, “How do you want me to wake you up?” My daughter likes me to stroke her hair softly and sing to her. I don’t know why she likes that because I definitely don’t have that singing voice, but nevertheless she enjoys it. So that’s how I wake her up; she doesn’t want me to open her curtains right away.
My son wants me to just kind of get in bed, snuggle with him, talk to him, and rub his back, so they both have their own way they like me to wake them up. Then, we have a system where they get up, brush their teeth, get ready, go downstairs, eat breakfast, take their vitamins and stuff, put their lunch box in their bag, and then they’re ready to go. When we create this routine and support it with praise and excitement, our mornings go so much better. I even incorporated that when I make their lunch, I put a note in their lunch box, so they’re always constantly saying, “Mom, did you put my note in?” and I’m like, “Yes, I did,” or “Wait, nope, I didn’t.” I have to run back upstairs to my office and get them a note to put a note in.
Nevertheless, this has always worked, even with my older boys. My two boys are much older; they’re in their 20s now, so waking them up was different. I had my oldest son; he was easy to wake up to; it was just, “Cameron, it’s time to get up,” and he would jump out of bed. My other son, not so much. He would literally fall asleep sitting up when I woke him up in the morning. Again, we had to find different routines for them to get them up and get our morning going. I want my kids to go to school feeling happy. I want their day to start off well. So on the way to school, when I drop them off, I always ask them, “What is your day going to look like?” They’ll say, “Good!” or “Exciting!” or “Great!” When they were little, they would tell me like little characters, like it’s going to be a Ninja Turtle day or whatever. I always say, “Well, what would that look like to you? If you’re going to have a great day, what does a great day look like to you?” They would explain it to me.
So I’m already, again, giving that anticipatory guidance of what they should make their day look like, what their day is going to start out with, how we’re going to make it if they’re not having a great morning, and how we’re going to turn that around. My kids, I would say, are very high-spirited kids. They’re very headstrong; they want to be in charge; they want that certainty. I set them up every morning with a way to win and have that—that they are in control of their emotions and the kind of day that they’re going to have.
Just as an added bonus, now that my kids are getting older, I let them know that if they get done, I could use some help. They love being helpers because when they’re helpers, they feel like they’re part of something; it gives them back that worth and lets them know that they matter. Sometimes they strive for that, and they’re like, “Mom, I took care of the dogs for you!” and then I just praise them, and we celebrate that, and it makes them feel even more empowered. So what happens tomorrow? They’re going to do it again. So again, if you want to have a better morning, create a routine. Give them that interest rate guidance. Sometimes I even challenge them, like, I bet you that by the time I count to 20, you can’t be ready. Watch how fast they get ready; they just make it fun. How can you make it even more fun?
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