A typical Thursday Morning in 2018 usually ran like this...
Me awake at 4:30 am, planning for the kids and myself to leave the house by 6:30 am.
I don’t begrudge an early morning, I’m much better at dawn than at dusk. Always have been.
I use half an hour of my morning time for me, usually it’s a gentle yoga session. I call it my ‘calm before the storm’.
Master 8 has swimming, tennis and violin today.
Miss 6 has swimming.
Master 3 is going to kindy, but needs a bag full of toys to keep him entertained while the other two swim. His absolute favourite is matchbox cars.
Normally I don’t quantify it, but when I write it down here for you, this is what I’m preparing:
3 x breakfasts
3 x lunches
2 x swim bags
2 x school bags
1 x toy bag
1 x kindy bag
1 x tennis racquet
1 x violin
I feel like I’ve packed to go camping for a week!
But the kids know the routine and snap into gear after a gentle ‘wakeup nudge’. Ok Master 8 needs more than a nudge and I more often than not load Master 3 into the car half asleep and PJ-clad. Miss 6 goes from passed out to alert in under 1 second.
Once at the pool, we enjoy our time together. We watch the swimmers, we chat, we do homework, we play cars. It’s actually a very special time for us and I liken it to their bedtime routine with their daddy.
And that was Thursdays for the most part of last year. Sounds hectic, but it worked. Then.
Once I’d got the routine down pat and knew what I had to do to be prepared, it was a doddle… but of course, things change. The kindy kid is now a preppie and the older two have completely different schedules and activities. Unfortunately, I came to realise that our (relatively) smooth Thursday morning routine wasn’t sustainable for the long term. I was doing all the thinking, most of the planning and the kids were learning nothing about taking responsibility. We’ve moved around activities and they all pack all their bags.
It was time to move from being my children’s executive assistant, responsible for their every need, to managing director and the master of delegation! I make the kids lunch, they pack their school bags. They check our weekly schedule and work out what they need to pack for their daily activities. Master 4 needs a little more prompting than the older two. I do a verbal check with them as we walk out the door. For me, it’s not about scheduling the kids to the very last millisecond, or about micromanaging them, it’s about smart time-management and it’s also about providing them with stability through a predictable routine. They find safety in the routine. This took a little practice and a lot of patience, however it's now integrated into our mornings.
Coordinating the family’s calendar is very important for a number of reasons:
If the calendar is managed and coordinated as a family unit, you are more likely to work as a team. Children can begin to understand the time investment that goes into their various activities and know when they can look forward to time together as a family, time with their friends and chill out time. They will also begin to respect the time you ask to have as an adult.
Managing your time is a life skill and a skill that many adults are yet to master. Sit down and talk through the various activities available and the time commitment that comes with them to help your children understand calendar clashes at busy times of the year and why they need to choose one activity over another.
Encourage your children to select their activities empowers them to stay committed. If they choose an activity, they’re in for the year or the season and they understand why.
Help the kids understand how long it takes to pack bags and get out the door and ask them to help you. As they get better and faster at this (and you praise them for their efforts) you will soon notice how much time and effort you save yourself whenever you all leave the house together. At the same time the kids are learning how to prepare for a busy day of fun!
Using this approach empowers your children to participate in and feel like valued contributors in family decisions. ,
For me, it’s most definitely dropped my morning stress levels as I no longer feel like I am the only family member holding all the juggling balls. Instead, we work as a team with a common goal - everyone has their part to play and the children are learning some pivotal life skills along the way. It’s still a work in progress, and our mornings are not immune to the odd melt down (Mummy included), but we’re human and we own it!
Time is that one thing that we can’t get back, that we can’t slow down, that we can’t speed up and that we value the most - often a much more valuable commodity that money. Teaching your children and reminding yourself of the value of time can help find you all find the magic in the daily routine.
Do you feel you manage your mornings well, or is this something you want to get better at?
Are you an early riser or do you prep everything the night before so you can roll out of bed, get dressed and go, smoothie in hand?
Did you change from a night owl to an early riser once having children? How did you cope?
I would love to hear from you and how you manage your daily routine! Who knows, you may be able to help another parent out with that little gold nugget that turned your own mornings from hectic to heavenly!
In the meantime, if you’d like to change things up and need a place to start, my tip sheet for this week is full of handy hints to make mornings the most enjoyable part of your day (or at least slightly more tolerable)! Drop me a comment or an email and I'll send it to you within the week!