Any parent will tell you that a busy school year usually means “morning madness”. Instead of letting chaos reign, take control of your morning by getting your entire family organized. It’s simpler than you may think. Calm mornings await you, with just a little advice.
1. Establish a Routine. Before you organize things, organize behaviors. This sounds simple enough, right? Do the same thing over and over again. But there’s more to it than lather, rinse, repeat. In fact, there’s scientific evidence that supports creating regularity for your children helps them develop time management skills.
Researchers at the University at Albany looked at the impact of daily routines on childhood development. They surveyed 292 young adults and found that those who grew up with predictable, daily routines were less likely to have time management or attention issues as adults. Jennifer Weil Malatras, the lead author of the research, said, “Our study contributes to the understanding that regularity in daily routines may help to promote time management skills and, in turn, reduce the experience of attention difficulties in adulthood.”
When establishing a routine in your home, think about what works best for you, your kids, and your partner. Start with these suggestions:
● Cook breakfast together
● Eat breakfast together
● Discuss what you’re looking forward to that day
● Discuss what you’re not looking forward to that day
● Chat about plans for after school or in the evening
2. Get Your Kids Organized. Most children are not known for their tidiness. How many times have you asked your child to go clean their room? If your kid can’t find their favorite pair of socks or homework beneath the clutter, it’s adding to morning stress. The reality is, organization really matters.
Author Leanne Page made this suggestion, “One strategy, backed by behavior analytic research, is to decrease response effort for the tasks your child must do in the morning. This means to arrange things in the environment to make daily routines easier.” Build a place to house your child’s things and help them create a habit of putting away their clothes, shoes, and accessories. It’s a lot easier than you think. These days it’s easy and affordable to design convenient, professional closet and organizational systems for your children to call their own. Each night before your child goes to sleep, you can remind them to put things away in their proper place. Then, you can create a new habit together: picking out clothes for the next day.
3. Organize Other Parts of Your Home. Don’t stop in their bedroom. Build each child (and parent!) a cubby in your mudroom or foyer with hooks for backpacks, purses, and briefcases. Think about shelving for shoes and drawers for keys.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens, a Licensed Psychologist and Board Certified Nutrition Specialist offered a creative tip. “One game-changer for families, especially with elementary age kids or younger, is to keep everyone’s socks by the door with the shoes instead of in the bedroom.” Once you have the physical objects in place, it’s time to initiate the routine. Before your child goes to sleep or after they finish their homework, remind them to put his or her backpack on its hook with the schoolwork inside.
4. Combine Routine and Organization. Help kids get themselves ready by writing them a to-do list. Hang it in the bathroom or inside the door of their closet. These are some items you can include:
● Brush teeth
● Wash face
● Comb hair
● Get dressed
● Eat breakfast
Eventually, these things will become a habit, and you can ditch the list.
5. Think about Morning Minutia. Kids and parents alike need lunches or snacks for school. Hats and scarves are a must for certain times of the year. These things don’t need to take you by surprise. Mastering your morning starts the night before. Pack lunches (enlist your kids’ help!). Check an app and figure out what’s in store for tomorrow’s weather. Pro Tip: Make sure you keep umbrellas and other weather accessories in your newly organized mudroom.
Finally, read your work calendar to see what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. Consider creating a family calendar (we’ll talk about that more in a bit). Do not welcome surprises into the morning crush of activity. Know what’s ahead.
6. Communicate with Your Family. Remember the suggested routine elements? One idea is to initiate conversations about what lies ahead for your day. But sometimes children forget what’s on tap. Remind them by creating a family calendar.
This part of the new family routine will encourage dialogue and, again, reduce surprises. You will know the date of the science fair. Soccer practice and your book club will get a spot on the calendar, too. This routine will also encourage and promote family discussions about what is happening in each other’s lives.
7. Don’t Forget about ‘Me-Time’. Managing a household is not easy. Maintaining a calm morning challenges even the most organized parents. So once you have all of these new levers in place, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
An organized home will cut time out of your morning and evening chores. Instead of hunting for clothing or accessories, you’ll know where to find your things. And your kids will, too. Imagine the time everyone will save. Put the additional hours toward something you love doing —and give your family members the same opportunity.
Regardless of how you get your kids out the door make sure they leave with a loving and encouraging message, says University of Maine instructor Emily Morrison, “Tell them you love them before they leave. No matter how fast or slow you get this process, the worst way to start a day is feeling like you’ve left “I love you” left unsaid.”