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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hectic Mornings Anyone???

Here starts week two of Back To School. Are your mornings hectic? Like "Where's my lunch?" or "Have you seen my permission note?" or maybe "Mom, have you seen my library book????"

Luckily not all of our mornings are like this. I try to avoid this by using a little system I like to call the "15 minute countdown." I try to get my elementary schoolers to bed by 9 p.m. at the latest. The little girls are in bed by 8:30 p.m. So around 7:45 p.m. each night we take a few minutes to gather our stuff for the next day so everyone gets out the door healthy and happy--including Mom and Dad.

1. Have a bath and pick out the clothes you are wearing the next day. There's no way we could bathe in the morning and get out the door on time, so we do it nightly. I let the kids pick out their outfits, but sometimes the weather affects us, so I need to help out. My boy loves to wear his random favorites all together--even though they don't match. Sometimes the outfit is a little too crazy, I give my opinion and let them make the final choice. After all, it's not me in public. When we choose an outfit they include shoes, socks and accessories. This way we aren't wasting time looking for a lost shoe or sock.

You can take this concept to one or two other levels depending on your needs. You could make a Paper Doll and dress him/her the night before in clothing similar to what your child needs to wear. You could also make tags with the days of the week to hang around hangers with the corresponding outfit for the day. You could also put your daily outfit in a stacking, hanging laundry rack labeled with the day of the week.

2. Make Food Preparations the night before. Pack your lunch. You can freeze many types of sandwiches, go-gurts, water bottles and juice pouches. Fresh fruit and pre-packaged items may also come in handy.

Again making lunches can be as complicated or simple as you like. Prepare items on Sunday night if you like to pack your kids lunches. Cut up fruit and veggies, cheese and meat, and pre-package your own crackers, chips or pretzels. This is an easy way to save time and money.

Again, if you want a smooth morning try setting out breakfast choices. Depending on what your kids will eat setting out a few cold cereals, oatmeal or breakfast bars can smoothly start you day. Set out necessary utensils and bowls/plates so you can quickly get them fed before school. Arrange your fridge so there's a section of cold breakfast items like yogurt, fruit and muffins easy to reach and ready to go.

3. Backpack Prep. Load up the stuff they'll need the night before and put it by the door. Make sure to empty it out before you repack it in case something got left over the weekend. Make sure everything is signed, lunch money sent and homework ready. Don't forget a coat, boots, or other weather gear.

4. Five minute pick up. Take five minutes to have your kids pick up their rooms. It will make for a more relaxed night of sleep and better morning because they'll be able to find things.

5. Review the upcoming week. I think kids do better if they know what to expect. So each night we review the upcoming day so they aren't surprised they can't play right after school because I need to take them somewhere, or we have a special event to attend.

6. Expect the Unexpected. Give yourself 10 minutes extra in the morning. If you need to be out the door at 8 a.m. get up 10 minutes earlier than you need to do your morning routine. This leaves some time to change an outfit that gets dirty, sign a forgotten paper, take an unexpected phone call or roll the trash cans out to the curb. If you have a few minutes of free time you can always take a few deep breaths to get the day going.

It takes a minute for each family to find their balance of free time vs. family time vs. everything else. Review your priorities and you'll find your balance. At our house my kids play time is limited Monday through Thursday. There are just too many activities, lessons and homework items. Our rule is "work before play." It's become an incentive to get the work done. Although that too comes with a balance. My kids know if they rush through the work, it really doesn't save time to go play because they get to do it over and sometimes get an extra chore--which pretty much kills playtime. You know what works for your kid. Rules can be rewritten and can be individualized. Don't be afraid to start somewhere.

I promise if you take a few minutes to plan it will save you precious time getting out the door.

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