Top Tips to Take the Stress out of the Morning Rush
I would really appreciate your input. Over the past year I've tried several approaches to engage my almost 6 yr old son in the morning routine, with pretty poor results. Pre school preparation is frantic, stressful and draining for all concerned. He has an 8 yr old & 3 year old brother so as you can imagine, helping him to adopt any concept of time & urgency would be welcomed all round. He is generally a well behaved boy who just wants to play and despite his determination to stay focused on the task in hand (dressing, eating breakfast...) he is repeatedly distracted. For both our sakes - is there any possibility of breaking this cycle?
This was answered during a live Parenting.co.uk forum on 8th April 2011 by www.Parentconfidential.co.uk . Here's their advice:
Mornings and Young Children are a Tricky Combination
There is nothing like a 6 year old strop to bring everything to a crashing halt. And however much you try, it would take patience of saintly proportions to remain calm having asked your little cherub to 'please get your shoes and put them on nicely' for the sixth time! The trouble is if the morning starts off with yelling, shouting, cajoling, threatening and tears all round, the day has gone downhill before it's even started.
It may be tricky to get a routine established at first, you'll probably come up against resistance with one or two of the above, and there may still be days when chaos rules … but if you persevere with calm resolve and let everyone know what's expected of them, mornings in your house can be transformed and everyone can start out with a real chance of having a nice day!
Eight top tips for stress-free mornings:
- . The night before is crucial, get as much done as possible to take the pressure off the morning. So, prepare lunchboxes, check with older ones if they need anything special for the next day, and make sure homework is done. (Nothing worse than a last-minute rush over breakfast!)
- . Get up first, get dressed and start the day as if you mean it. You may have to start earlier and resist the lure of an extra 10 minutes' snooze but the payoff of a stress-free morning is worth it!
- . Decide which order works best in your house. Some households work better having breakfast first then getting dressed, some the other way around. Decide which is best for you and your kids.
- . Switch off the TV. Dragging kids away from CBeebies is a real challenge, one best avoided! Having said that, it could work as an incentive for them to have 10 minutes of TV once they're actually ready.
- . Keep your expectations realistic about how much your child can do on their own to get themselves ready. Some kids love to get dressed, others need help. it could be worth compromising by helping them with some tasks and encouraging them to do other things by themselves. A star chart could work here, perhaps with drawings or cut-out pictures of around five tasks to be achieved. These work best if kept simple!
- . A few minutes positive attention can go a long way. Here's where sitting down to breakfast together can double up as a nice chat about the day ahead giving your child a confidence boost at the same time.
- . Avoid shouting! It may take superhuman powers to avoid getting angry when a small person is playing up but as soon as you've lost it, the situation is likely to escalate into tears, more shouting, and everyone feeling wretched. Meeting them at eye level, listening, then responding in a calm voice can take the heat out of the situation.
- . Build in an extra few minutes for those last minute crises which are sometimes unavoidable. At least, that way you know you have got a bit of slack for those occasions when you need it. And on the days you don't need the extra time, everyone will be a few minutes early!
I think these are great tips. I personally set a rule that everything has to be done before anyone watches TV or goes on the computer. This means they have to have breakfast, get dressed, teeth and face. They sometimes forget but I quietly remind them and normally it doesn't cause a problem. Letting them know what is expected of them is also a great tip and sometimes is overlooked. I am guilty of that a lot, particularly with my partner.
Good luck, let us know if you have any other tips to add.
Juliet at Parenting.co.uk