I hate the mornings. I always have — even when I was a kid. Now, I hate my kids in the morning — sometimes. Some days I just cannot wait to get them out the door — the screaming, the crying … and that is just me. Yet, there are other mornings which seem to go so smoothly, everyone gets dropped off at school with big smiles on their faces, and I feel like a decent mother.
While I am not always smart enough to manage my mornings correctly, I do have enough brain cells left to be able to identify what works:
1. Get up at least 15 minutes before the kids need to get up.
Pour your coffee, get dressed, maybe even shower. When I am happy, relaxed and awake, the mood is contagious. I am able to give the kids a 10 minute warning with a gentle kiss and shake, as opposed to screaming up the stairs, “If you don’t get up this minute, we are going to be late!”
2. Pack the night before. Homework should be checked, reading logs should be complete. School bags should be packed with everything for the day, including show and tell, library books, and a healthy snack when needed. After school schedules should be checked and kids told what to expect the next day in terms of carpooling, sports and activities. Better yet, help the kids keep their own calendar of activities. It inspires a feeling of control and responsibility.
3. Pack lunch the night before. If you make sandwiches on frozen bread, and put them in the fridge overnight, they will taste perfectly fresh by lunchtime, and you won’t have to contend with stale bread. The same goes for bagels. Buy extra on Sunday and pop them in the freezer for use in a pinch. Always keep cream cheese, nutella, peanut butter and jelly on hand for the days you didn’t get to the store. Out of bread? No problem. There is nothing wrong with a no sandwich lunch — yogurt, fruit, cheese, crackers, pretzels, etc. I let the kids fill their bags with an assortment of snacks, and haven’t heard a complaint yet. The most important thing is not to scramble in the morning.
4. Check the weather and lay out outfits, shoes and outerwear before bed. Nothing can ruin a morning in my house more quickly than tired kids not knowing what to put on and not being able to find a shoe or a mitten.
5. Hair Care — Get out the knots the night before. If you have girls, you know how hair brushing can turn a calm morning into a chaotic, tear-filled one. If your girls shower the night before, make sure they use conditioner, followed by a leave-in conditioning spray, followed by a good brushing. The extra time the night before will save angst in the morning.
6. Finally, be prepared to let some things go. If she doesn’t look perfect, if breakfast didn’t contain all four food groups, if he is wearing shorts and it is 30 degrees outside, they will survive.
The most important thing is they get out the door. In the words of Dr. Seuss’ Marvin K. Mooney:
The time has come.
The time is now.
I don’t care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.
Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now!