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(Having A) Good Morning!

Some mornings are a breeze in getting my crew out the door and on our way to school and our other activities.  Other mornings, though, are a fight from the second their little eyes open until we all get to our destination.  What makes those great mornings so great?  Here are a few things I’ve observed that help us get off to a great start (even on a Monday!).

1.  Be ready yourself.  If I’m not ready by the time the kids get up, chances are they are going to drag around during our finite time at the house.  By having myself put together, dressed, and otherwise good to walk out the door, I’m not distracted with my own routine while trying to get them through theirs.  All of my attention can be focused on their needs.

2.  Start off the day with a big bite.  My kids are eaters, but my older son needs to eat the.minute.his.feet.hit.the.ground!  My younger son, though, would rather wait about 20 minutes to wake up before chewing on some toast and peanut butter.  No matter when they eat, though, breakfast is important enough to make time for it in the morning.  Running out the door with a pop tart in one hand and a juice box in another may be better than having nothing at all, but it isn’t better by much.  Try to make time to have a bowl of nutritious cereal, a protein-filled meal, or at least something filling with less sugar to start the day off right.

3.  Allow at least 10 minutes for those “other” things that crop up.  How many times have I heard, “I can’t find my shoes!” or “Have you seen my library book?” or even “Don’t leave – I have to go to the bathroom!”  I have long-since learned that cushioning our morning routine with a few extra minutes allows for those last-minute stressors that arise. 

4.  Do some prep work the night before. Have the backpack ready to go at by the door.  Lay out the clothes for in the morning to save time choosing something to wear.  And, make sure everyone is in bed on time.  Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders the next day!

5.  Be a list-maker.  When my older son was in preschool and not able to read yet, we posted a list on the bathroom mirror – a list of pictures of his morning routine.  We drew four or five activities that he needed to do each morning and posted it where he would easily see it.  After practicing for about a week, he was highly proficient at following his list to get ready – everything from dressing to brushing teeth to making his bed.

6.  Take a deep breath.  Even the best-laid plans will fall by the wayside every now and then.  Don’t be so rigorous in your routine that you can’t allow for a day that simply doesn’t go as planned.  The important thing is to not let those little things that get in the way each morning become a part of the routine.  Make those little things the exception, not the rule.

Bedtime Routines

Wash.  Rinse.  Repeat.  It is the same thing just about every night at our house.  Oh sure, every now and then we have company or we’re out of town (or something like that), but for the most part, the boys’ bedtime routine stays the same. 

We realized early on how much our older child thrived on routine.  He was constantly asking us what we would do next, what our agenda was for the day, what we had planned for the week.  He has worn a watch from a very early age, constantly checking times and schedules.  He was (and still is) up at the same time every day, no matter what the day, week or month.

Our younger son is definitely a “freer spirit”.  He is happy to get up at 6:15 or sleep in until 9.  He goes with the flow, excited with each new adventure and surprise and ready for whatever comes around the corner.  But, even with his less rigid personality, he thrives on routine.  Most children do.

Our bedtime routine starts pretty much every evening about an hour before “lights out” time.  Sometimes our schedule makes this impossible, but we try to adhere to the same schedule every night.  We begin with a bath or shower for the boys, then they climb into their pajamas and brush their teeth. 

Most of the remaining time we spend either playing a quiet game or reading a story.  The television isn’t on, and it is time to quiet down as a family and spend some time together.  About fifteen minutes before the lights are turned off, the boys climb into bed and say their prayers.  We spend our last few minutes singing songs and engaging in a few “mommy and daddy kisses”.  Bellies are covered with raspberry smooches and tickle spots are discovered.  Then, with a final hug and kiss, the lights are turned out and a soft, quiet peace fills the house.

Now, I’m definitely not going to say that the boys NEVER get out of bed (because sometimes they do) and they don’t bicker or cut up after the lights are out.  They are boys.  They are brothers.  And they aren’t always perfect.  But, I do feel strongly that keeping a routine at bedtime makes it, well, ROUTINE.  There are no questions asked about what happens next or why bedtime is here already.  Because it is the same thing, night after night, the boys KNOW this is the way it is.

So, what works for you and your family?  Please leave a comment on your bedtime routines (or non-routines) and let us know!

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