People have asked “How do you get out of the house in the morning – with four kids (without loosing your mind)?” I can honestly say it is not always easy, seamless, or calm – and there are certainly days I DO loose my mind. There are a few tricks I learned in the corporate world that seem to help ease the morning madness:
• Prioritize planning
• Honor organization
• Be faithful to routine
• Stay calm and carry on
Each time I get lazy and do not prepare the night before, I am sorely reminded of the importance of prioritizing planning. When we do not prepare the night before, mornings are chaotic often resulting in yelling, tears, and being late. However, when we take the time to make lunches the night before and ensure backpacks are packed with snacks, water, homework etc. – we are well on our way to a smooth morning. Do not underestimate how much your children can help you prioritize planning, even at very young ages. I’ve seen my three year old be very particular about packing his bag and my six-year-old prepare his lunch, lay out his clothes for the next day, and get ready for bed – without being told and completely unassisted!
I have “command stations” that include lockers, wall pockets, and cubby boxes. I expect everyone to put backpacks and gear in their lockers, hang up jackets, and put shoes in their cubby boxes. The pockets are ideal for seasonal items like sun hats, mittens and umbrellas. If the organization is ignored the morning routine breaks down because time is spent looking for a lost article instead of getting out the door.
Be Faithful to Routine
Speaking of routine, this is my personal challenge area and – it’s critical. My tendency is to be reactionary, spontaneous, and go with the flow. Routine bores me. But chaotic mornings are more painful then being bothered by boredom, so I opt for consistency. Everyone is out of bed by 6:30AM.
My high energy/high thinker kids start the morning with protein – not carbs, even if it’s a handful of nuts. It is the difference between a cooperative vs. an obstinate family member. Starting the morning by pouring a bowl of cereal instead of meat or eggs is certain disaster.
I place individual digital timers in front of the kids while they are eating so they know how many minutes they have before 7AM. At 7AM they get dressed and brush teeth. At 7:15AM lunches go in backpacks, shoes and jackets go on. At 7:25AM we are out the door!
Stay Calm and Carry On
There is no doubt; degrees of deviation from our ideal morning frequently happen. I have to remind myself to “keep calm and carry on” knowing everyday will be different, every child will have their moment, and adjustment will have to be made to continuously improve. The mantra “stay calm and carry on” prevents me from loosing me mind and get out the door.