The most difficult hour of my day are the the one right before the kids get shuffled out the door to their carpool. It’s even more chaotic on the mornings that I drive; while I can wave goodbye to them in my pajamas if necessary, I prefer not to pick up other people’s children while I’m still wearing my pink Minnie Mouse jammie pants. I also have the relative luxury of working from home; I can imagine that it would be that much more hectic if I actually had to put on work clothes, makeup and (gasp!) real shoes.
So, what are some ways to tame the morning chaos monster? I’ve been reading up on it for my own benefit, and I wanted to share some tips with you, because if there’s one thing I know about parenthood, it’s that we’re all in the same boat.
- Prep the Night Before
This one seems like a no-brainer, but I still find it hard to do. By the end of the day, I want to drop, not spend another hour or two picking out clothes, packing lunches and dealing with backpacks, so unfortunately those things often get pushed to the next morning. One suggestion that I found was to prep the afternoon before! When the kids get home from school, put them in charge of giving you any forms that need to be signed, choosing their clothes for the next day and cleaning out their lunchboxes. (My kids are upper elementary age; you may need to do this for your little ones.) Since food is a powerful motivator in my house, I think I’m going to start having them do this before they get their after school snack; my guess is that it will only take them five minutes, instead of the twenty it takes them first thing in the morning!
- Set Your Alarm Earlier
I’ve found this to be very helpful in the past, and it’s not about waking up a half hour earlier to simply start the mad dash that much sooner. When I manage to get myself up a half hour or so before the kids, I can take that time to enjoy a cup of coffee, read the news and just relax before the craziness begins. It can give me the serenity (okay, the caffeine boost) necessary to remain patient with a child who forgot where she put her shoes, or who drops a jar of jam all over the kitchen floor. This also makes me more productive for the rest of the day, because once the kids walk out the door, I’m fully awake and ready to get moving.
- Keep Them Moving With Music
For my music-loving family, this is probably the best suggestion I’ve read: make a CD with everyone’s favorite songs, and play it starting at the same time each morning. They will soon learn that Bobby needs to be in the shower before Livin’ on the Edge starts, and Susie should be putting the finishing touches on her hair by the time Tiny Dancer is ending. (Luckily for me, my kids like classic rock, and don’t torture me with teenybopper music, so your mileage may vary here.)
What are your best get-em-out-the-door-without-going-nuts strategies? We all want to know!