A couple of days ago, my son wound up wearing his breakfast (who can blame him for suspect hand-eye-mouth coordination at 7 a.m.?)
At the beginning of the school year, changing shirts would’ve meant missing the bus. Not anymore. Thanks to some changes in how we manage our mornings, my son had time to finish eating, change shirts, and make the bus without a problem.
After evaluating our morning routine, my wife and I have implemented seven things to give us and our three kids a great start each day.
A Successful Morning Begins on the Previous Night
We learned this lesson when our 12-year old daughter was in first grade. Even as a 6-year-old, Nee was quite opinionated on what she wore. After one too many tearful outbursts over clothes, my wife decided that she would pick out Nee’s outfits for the week on Sunday, then let Nee decide which day she’d wear them. As a result, there were no more tears or delays in the morning over wardrobe. We also make lunches at night so the kids can just grab their lunch boxes and go.
An Alarm Clock Can Promotes Independence
My 10-year-old son is not a morning person (refer to the aforementioned shirt incident). Last year, my wife had to resort to splashing water on his face to get him on his feet in the morning. That changed when we got him an alarm clock. Now he is in charge of getting himself – and his brother – up in the morning. And he doesn’t need water to do it.
A Good Breakfast is the Key to a Great Start
We’ve taught our older kids how to prepare a few simple breakfast meals. They enjoy eating their favorite cereals – Special K, Rice Krispies, and Frosted Flakes – with a bagel and orange juice. They also know how to make frozen waffles and sausage. Breakfast is my children’s favorite meal of the day and they are always eager to do their part to ensure that they have a tasty, nutritious meal each morning.
Feed the Mind and Spirit
Feeding our kids’ bodies in the morning isn’t enough, we also feed their minds and spirits. From the moment our kids walk out of our door, they are bombarded with various influences. To equip them to deal with those influences in wise ways, we start the day with a prayer and a devotion. It’s a five minute investment that resets their moral compass every day.
Use Lists and Calendars to Keep Track of Important Things
With three kids, there is always an assignment due, a permission slip to be signed, or an important date to remember. My wife and I keep three calendars – on our phone, on the wall, and on the desk – to keep track of our schedule. My daughter also has her own planner that helps her to manage her schedule and homework assignments. In addition to the calendars, we encourage the kids to make lists of tasks that need to be completed before they leave for school each day.
Develop an Organization System
When my kids were younger, they missed the bus one morning because one of them couldn’t find a matching shoe. The same scenario has been played out over a jacket and even a backpack. We decided to tackle this problem head on by turning one wall of our kitchen into the kids mudroom. There are hooks for their backpacks and jackets and cubbies for their shoes, hats and gloves. It wasn’t a small undertaking, but it was worth the investment to keep them organized.
Teamwork is the Key to Success
A few years ago, we started referring to our family as Team Goodall. We wanted to cultivate the attitude among the kids that their job isn’t just to take care of themselves, but to help their team achieve as well. If our younger son needs help tying his shoes, his older brother is expected to assist. My daughter takes out the dog if my wife or I forget to do it. We each pitch in to make sure our team achieves its goal in the morning: getting out the door prepared and on time.
Our system may not be perfect, but it works for us. These seven steps have transformed our mornings from a frantic rush to a time we all can enjoy.
Join the Conversation: Share your great starts tips in the comments section or on Twitter using the hashtag #GreatStarts.
Disclosure: I’m a paid member of the K-Champs Team. For more tips, visit Kellogg’s Team USA Great Starts Page