Book Contest: Help Save My Morning Routine!

I’m the quintessential reformed Tardy Mom, Parenting Magazine’s poster child on the subject, and it’s true–our mornings, while not particularly resembling clockwork in any way, are now calmer, cooler and vastly more timely.  Setting a load time and sticking to it, of refusing to serve breakfast to any child not already dressed, of setting up an actual alarm clock to ring when breakfast is over and tooth-brushing time has arrived–those have worked wonders (thanks, Mary Caroline Walker! I’d link to you, but your blog is busted.)

I have to say, though, that it would all be so much easier if their weren’t so many kids involved. Unpredictable little beasts. They simply refuse to march in lockstep from bedroom to bathroom to breakfast to toothbrushes, and sometimes, as today, their creative ideas for what constitutes appropriate morning fun make me crazy. A fully dressed Wyatt and Rory went upstairs to brush teeth this morning at 7:30. Lock and load time is 7:40–but just as I went to the foot of the stairs to start the gently hollering (Shoes! Shoes! Shoes and COATS!) that foretells departure, Lily arrived with a report that Rory and Wyatt were “playing in the sink.”

I did what I always do, based on such reports. I yelled “Don’t play in the sink!” Then, for good measure, I added “Shoes! SHOES AND COOAAATS!”

Oh, right, like that was going to work. Rob went up to deal, and a few minutes later Rory and Wyatt re-emerged, both wearing entirely different clothes. (Because the one thing I do not have is enough laundry.) Apparently they were giving a balloon a bath.

Unbelievably, we still left the house on time (something of this sort happens every morning–if it’s not a dirty balloon, it’s poopy pants, or spilled cereal, or a missing lid to the very most important marker).  And because of that, no one’s day had to be ruined by the amount of shouting that would once have resulted from this.  It was just one of those things. (Of course, I haven’t gone up to look at the bathroom yet.)

Anyway, it got me thinking about mornings, and the way we get kids out of the house and onto their days. My current secret weapon is vitamins. I keep them in the car, and when it’s time to go, I yell “Gummy bears or lemon drop?! They’re in the car!” and three small figures race for the door.  It works brilliantly, but I worry that the novelty is about to wear off–in fact, I constantly feel like our system is on the verge of collapse. I’m open to suggestions!

Thus: a contest. I feel a little dopey doing this, but you all know I review kids’ books, which means we have more in the house than I can handle, so I thought I’d send a free copy of Oscar and the Bird to the best get out of the house tip. If I add it to our repetoire, the book is yours–comment away!

9 Responses to “Book Contest: Help Save My Morning Routine!”

  1. Lisen says:

    I have no advice, so I can’t win the book. I need all the tips & tricks I can gather, so I am totally going to doll out their vitamins in the car. THANK YOU!

  2. Lisen says:

    Ooops, that was supposed to be dole, not doll. The dolls do not get vitamins. It is hard ebough to break the suckers in half for the two littles. No way could I break them into, what, fourths for the dolls!?

  3. Heather says:

    I have 4 ( soon to be 5 ) kids and we do as much as possible the night before. Lunches are made and backpacks all packed before bed, this doesn’t always work but we aim high. Good luck!

  4. Cindy says:

    OK, this really only works in the cooler months but I was having a hard time getting my boys motivated to get dressed in the morning so I started offering to make their clothes “nice and toasty warm” before they get dressed. I pick out all of their clothes and toss them in the dryer for a few minutes, when they are ready I yell “start getting dressed before your clothes get cold!” Because their clothes will cool quickly they absolutely scramble! It works like a charm for my guys. They love toasty clothes on a cool morning. Then we top it off with a “little last one to get their clothes in the hamper is a rotten egg”. A little friendly competition can be a good thing 🙂 Good luck!

  5. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    Ok, Cindy, that’s a tough one to beat–mine would LOVE that.

  6. What if you had some sort of deal where if all of you get in the car on time for a week there is some sort of awsome prize.
    If they can get to the car (or front door) before YOU, than they get some reward.
    Just some ideas.

  7. Misty says:

    Do you have a reward system in your house? Each token equals so many points and so many points equals a certain coveted privilege?

    We use the one hand method for both morning routine and bedtime routine. 5 things for each. They can easily run through their mental list of each to see if they have completed it. Example…

    Morning routine=
    Thumb: make bed
    Index: get dressed to shoes
    Finger 3: breakfast and breakfast cleanup
    Finger 4: bathroom routine (hair, teeth, face)
    Finger 5: out the door (backpack, coat, lunchbox)

    Not sure if that makes sense but it works for us. If he does these things he earns his morning routine star for the day.

  8. Ruth in NZ says:

    What I would do with the little ones is have them brush there teeth in the kitchen They don’t need to spit out the tooth paste they can swallow it!
    I would also have cubbies or crates near the exit point so that their Backpacks, shoes etc are there and who is last has to pick up the laundry that night!
    I am not into rewarding for behaviour I expect they are part of a family and for a family to function we all have to help.
    Sit them all down with a talking stick and get them to come up with the ideas!

  9. Krista says:

    This is not really a suggestion, but more of a help with setting a better tone in the morning. I’m not a morning person at all either and I used to go to my kids’ door and start with the reminding…”It’s time to get up.” The reminders got louder and louder. I have one son in particular that doesn’t want to wake up and always wakes up with something that immediately puts me on the defensive like “I’m NOT going to school today”…then the battle begins. I discovered that if I start a few minutes earlier and spend some time talking to them on their beds and tickling the one that doesn’t want to get up, everyone begins the day in a better mood. We still haven’t figured out how to get out the door without rushing around like crazy, even with packed lunches and clothes laid out the night before! Oh well. By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog.
    We are waiting on TA from China for our 4th (first from China) and trying to decide if we should take our other three with us.