The other day a friend shared how crazy and stressed out her mornings had been lately trying to get three kids up, fed, dressed and out the door on time. Tears, frustration, and unkind words are not a great way to start the day, not to mention the stress of misplaced items, missed buses or being late because of a chaotic morning.
It wasn't all that long ago I used to have to get 9 kids (my 3 kids plus our 6 foster children (all 6 of which were under 6!) up, dressed, delivered to 2 different schools, one or more to the agency for an appt. or visit--usually before 9 am. I know what crazy mornings are like!
Here are some ideas that helped take some of the craziness out of our mornings (these ideas aren't new or even all that original, but hopefully having them in one spot will inspire you):
Plan the night before (the more you can do the night before, the easier the morning will be, especially if you are not a morning person! If you are a morning person, a lot of this could be done before anyone else is up)
*Get the coffeemaker ready
*Lay out clothes (including socks, underwear, etc...)-including any uniforms, etc.. needed later in the day
*You could also have kids put on some of the next days clothes to wear to bed (if appropriate), Example, t-shirts, sweat pants, etc....
*Plan breakfast and prep as much as possible
-set the table
-if you are serving cereal place the cereal in bowls the night before and cover with a napkin or plastic bowl cover (older kids can grab their own milk and pour over cereal or help the younger kids)
-pour milk into cups the night before and place in fridge
-pre-cook bacon so all it needs is a quick reheat
-bake muffins and wrap in plastic wrap-set on table
-cut up fruit and place in bowl of 7up or Sprite, in fridge, ready to drain and serve
-portion out peanut butter and jelly in small cups or baggies to be squeezed on toast
-make your oatmeal in the crockpot so it is ready to go in the morning
*Pack lunch or set out lunch money the night before
*Make sure homework is checked, bags are packed and set by door
*Write reminders on sticky note and stick to door (IE...don't forget lunch from fridge, etc....) or have a specific place for memos. Our back door was metal so we just used magnets to stick stuff to the door that needed to go out with us.
*Place toothpaste on toothbrushes (this also lets you know who forgot to brush in the morning)
*Don't forget to set out things like shoes, boots, coats, hats, gloves, etc... Have a specific spot for everything by the door so no one forgets. We made bags for each kid that hung in our entry where they placed their stuff--if we were in a hurry we just grabbed the bags and then they could put on hats, gloves, etc.. in the car.
In the morning:
*First things first--pray before your feet even hit the floor for a smooth morning and a good attitude for everyone involved!
*Don't sweat the small stuff--unless you are having company the minute you walk through the door, ask yourself if it really matters if the beds don't get made till afternoon. (I know, I like the beds made in the morning too, but I learned that it was just one more source of stress in the morning)
*Set the mood for the morning--turn on some fun music (or sing a favorite song) to get everyone moving and greet everyone with a kind word and a hug. My kids still remember being woken up to a silly song called "Wake Up, You Sleepyhead!"
*Use a timer to help keep everyone moving. Challenge them to get dressed and to the table before the timer goes off (2-5 minutes depending on age). You can make it into a game or even have stickers or prizes (like choice of seat at table, etc...) for the first person to finish (make sure the winner didn't skip a step (like socks, etc...)). We tried to have each kids get to pick something as they finished (1 st kid--choose seat, 2nd kid--favorite cup, 3rd kids--napkin, etc.... so everyone felt like a winner. Sometimes the last kids simply got a big hug and a "good job".
*Plan to leave 10 minutes early, that way you have a little cushion (just don't tell the kids (or maybe even your husband))
*Assign older kids to help younger (if you can)--it helps them feel important and keeps them focused
*Remember that no matter how well planned you are, things can still go wrong (the baby blows out a diaper, the toddler toss his cookies on his shoes, etc...) just take a deep breath and keep calm--your reaction will help determine the reaction of those around you.
*No matter what--send your kids out the door with a hug and a kind word--even an apology if necessary!
Mornings can be busy and chaotic, hopefully you will find something here that will help you take just a little bit of the "crazy" out of your morning and help you to enjoy those brief moments that you have together!