Making Morning Routines Work | Giftie Etcetera: Making Morning Routines Work

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Making Morning Routines Work

Mornings suck. It's just unfair that the alarm clock goes off right as I am warm and cuddly under the blankets. And then, before I can marathon Scandal or the Duggars on Netflix, I have to get the kids to school, workout, run errands, and work. It's quite the downer.

(Don't judge. One person can like both 19 Kids and a naughty political drama.)

Since I only like mornings that come with a steaming cup of coffee, a blanket, and a sunrise over a lake, and since most mornings do not fulfill that particular fantasy, I needed a way to make them run smoother and suck less. Here are some of the things that help make mornings better for me and my family.

*Have a schedule.

If there is one thing that NEEDS to be scheduled, it's your morning.

(In the picture, today's schedule is at the very top left hand corner. I usually don't duplicate stuff, but the "getting ready" schedule for the kids is on the fridge so they can see that breakfast is served at 6:30 sharp.)

My schedule varies a great deal, but basically it includes 40 minutes to get myself ready and feed the kids, a 30 minute commute, a 45 minute workout, and then the drive from the workout to the office. Fortunately, I work from home (or the library or a coffee shop), so I don't need to shower after the workout or put on make-up.

*Have a routine.

I try to do everything in the mornings in the same exact order, so that I learn it and don't have to think about it. (At first, I post the routine somewhere.)

TIP: Use a dry erase marker to post the routine or a reminder of what to wear on your mirror in your bathroom.

My routine is pretty simple.

Wake kids.
Make breakfast.
Fill water bottles.
Pack snacks/lunches.
Pack everything else (on a list in my planner - see the first blue section in the pic above - and stacked in a designated launch spot).
Lock door on the way out.

*Don't wake up early if you don't have a kid who is tiny or has special needs.

Why should mom or dad always have to wake up first?


*Train other members of the household to follow their own routines.

Note that my morning schedule only lists when I have to do things. At 6:45 this morning, I had to leave for carpool. (Even that varies, depending on whether I am substitute teaching or my husband's work schedule.) How could I do that while getting up at 6:15?

The answer is three-fold. First, I don't work in an office. I do wake 15 minutes earlier when I have to be presentable. Second, I have a "uniform" that I usually wear. On workout days, it's shorts and yoga pants and t-shirt. No work or workout? Jeans or tailored shorts. Third, my kids don't need me to supervise their routines because they are well trained.

The kids, ages 8 and almost 6, get themselves ready. At first, I woke up and got ready early, then oversaw their routine. That lasted about two weeks. I would point out the routine chart (hanging in their bedrooms). It was simple, like my routine.

Get dressed.

After two weeks, I gave incentives if they "beat the clock." For example, they might get to bring Kindle Fires in the car for the commute. Or we'd listen to a book on CD (checked out from the library) on the way to school. Or they could pick their own snack instead of mom picking for them. Finally, on week five, once they were well trained, they faced consequences if they were not timely (such as losing electronics time or telling the principal themselves why they were late for school).

Of course, things happen. Breakfast gets spilled on the uniform and someone has to change. Or somebody runs out of toothpaste. The kids know that as long as they tell me politely and ask for help, they will not be in trouble for a legitimate delay.

*Pack/list the night before.

All of the leading organizing books will tell you to put out your clothing and pack the night before. But that is not always feasible. I added a list to the packing routines, and it has solved the issue of not having room for everything leaving the house with me or forgetting things from the fridge.

Instead, I put my purse in my launch spot (for outgoing stuff that is leaving with me the next time I leave the house) all the time at home. Other stuff, like my work bag, go there only if the stuff is leaving the house with me. But my clothes stay hanging, unwrinkled, in the closet, and simply get moved to a special spot in the closet. Things like lunches, which are difficult to pack early, go on the list in the first blue spot on my daily planner, to leave the house with me. After all, a list works just as well as stacking everything in a pile.

TIP: Simplify your list by writing "Launch Spot" (or "LS) and anything else you need that is NOT in the Launch Spot. For me, that is often my cell (elsewhere on a charger) and my water bottle (needs ice).

TIP: If you bring the same things every single day, make a sticker with the list on it for your planner.

TIP: Don't put clothes on your list unless it is something special, like a raincoat. You'll probably remember not to leave the house naked without writing it down. (Unless you won't remember, in which case, by all means, write down "clothes.")

TIP: Have two launch spots - one for stuff leaving the next time you leave the house, like your purse and cell phone, and one for stuff that will leave eventually, like the toy that needs to be returned to your sister or a gift for Saturday's birthday party.

*Have a time for others in the household to pack the night before, too.

Give your kids a time to prep for the next day as part of their afternoon or evening routine. Set up launch spots for your roommate, spouse, or children.

For my kids, prep is in the afternoon. They do homework, prep for the next day (my husband takes care of clothing, but they put library books and water bottles and such in their schoolbags), chores, then free play. Evening routine is limited to bath, teeth, and prayer.

Their launch spots are in the hall closet. They each have a shelf.

If you incorporate this stuff into your morning routine, it will work. I promise.

Okay, I promise it will make you morning less stressful. I don't promise a Doctor Who marathon on the beach with a mimosa. We have to be realistic, after all.



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