How many of us are guilty of having to ride our kids with a steady stream of “hurry up!” and “where’s your shoes?” just to get them going in the morning? I don’t know about you, but the weight of the negativity in the morning really got me down as I herded my kids from one needed step to the next just to get our days started.
Then it dawned on me…in the same way that teams in a business setting need proper tools to be successful, so do children. And no one likes to be told what to do all the time right?!? Which led me to a simple system that even the youngest of tykes can pull off with only a bit of help:
- Wake Up Well. Get an It’s OK to Wake Alarm Clock. How it’s used depends on your child’s temperament. For those kids that are the “get up too early” types, you set the clock to light up without an alarm at the time they are supposed to get out of bed. And for the kids that will sleep until you have to wake them, use the alarm function to rouse them instead of having to begin their day with you telling them what to do. My little one is the former and the only reason she was allowed to rise before her It’s OK light was to make a quick trip to the bathroom. For older kids and teens, try a natural light alarm. Isabelle has this one and it’s towards the higher end of these clocks and there’s also models like this that start around $40.
- Have a Routine and Don’t Deviate. There is something so much better about saying things like “seems like you’re forgetting what step you’re on, think through what you should be doing” vs. “go brush your teeth!” In our house it’s: potty, choice of 2 breakfast options offered, get dressed, pj’s in laundry, brush teeth and hair, if there’s time a bit of playing, socks and shoes on, then out of the door. We say things like “do what you need to do before playing” and “you know what you should be doing” to keep Reina on track. We’ve recently added tidy your comforter to our routine now that Reina’s older.
- Use an Outfit Basket or Capsule Wardrobe System (i.e. any bottom they grab goes with any top). The Outfit Basket works better with Reina because she’s the kid that likes clothes so having distinct outfits satisfies the fashionista in her. And I often buy second hand clothes or use hand-me-downs from friends so it’s proven impossible to create a capsule wardrobe out of our random assortment of clothes. The Outfit Basket system works like this: (1) once a week check the weather forecast and lay out a variety of outfits what will work for the weather/activities your child will be doing that week; (2) have your child pick which 7 outfits he/she likes best then (3) make little rolls of the outfit (including underwear and sweaters/light jackets). After breakfast and hand/face washing, your child picks an outfit and gets dressed. PJ’s get turned right side out and put in the laundry basket, then off to the bathroom for tooth and hair brushing. I have a friend with a messy tooth brush-er and their routine is breakfast, hands washed, teeth brushed, face washed then getting dressed.
- Use an Exit System. An Exit System consists of three things: (1) socks in a basket, (2) self-serve shoes and (3) heavy/rain coats or summer gear as needed. The key to success here is only offering items they can manage on their own. This means only buying one kind of sock in one or two colors to eliminate having to match socks and keeping them in a basket by the door. Select shoes kids can put on by themselves and offer shoes that all can work in an average day (put up specialty/off season things like rain boots in summer and fancy shoes). Coats, backpacks and sport bags should be kept on kid height hooks for self-service. Systems may vary from your house to mine but as long as everything is stored such that kids can keep it tidy on their own, you’ll find success. We have a mud room off a side door in our house and this is where the family enters and exits. Our last house had the mudroom at the front door, and for those houses without mud rooms, create an attractive storage area for your kids where ever you enter/exit the house. Lidded baskets or boxes don’t have to be fancy to be attractive and functional. IMPORTANT NOTE: Because I am fairly forgetful, I’m in the habit of staging anything I’m responsible for in the sock/shoe area as well. Meaning, I make lunches or pack beach bags/backpacks and set them by the door. Permission slips get signed and taped to the door as does any errand related item that I need to handle on the way home from school drop off.
Basically, make it hard to do wrong! 🙂
Your household will shift to the positive naturally because it’s a regular routine that promotes independence and alleviates the need to nag and direct. You’ll be happier and so will your kids!
All Photos by Angela Carlyle
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