Weekday mornings are not something we look forward to. Most of us will be familiar with the perennial problems of rousing dawdling kids who can test the patience of a saint! The morning rush of showering, making breakfast, fixing lunch boxes, squeezing in your own morning cup of coffee, making sure homework is done and bags are packed, getting them on the school bus in time and ensuring you are ready as well, can leave anyone drained by 8 am! No wonder that by the time you get to office, you feel like you have been put through the wringer.
Some simple strategies to turn your morning mayhem into a relaxed morning raga may just have you humming to work with a spring in your step!
Make waking-up pleasant
Nobody likes to wake up to a nagging or irritable voice, kids included. Try and play some pleasant instrumental music as soon as you wake up, so that children wake up to a soothing sound in the background. Music does wonders to ease the atmosphere and is likely to put everyone in a good mood.
Organize to maximize efficiency
Encourage your children to lay out their clothes or uniforms, socks, shoes, ties, fill their water bottles etc. the night before. While they are doing this, you could be a role model and get your clothes ironed and ready as well. Supervise their homework while you are cooking dinner, keeping up an easy conversation with them so that they enjoy the process. Maybe younger children have diaries to be signed and bags packed that also could be done the day before.
A place for everything
Designate a specific place for school related items like socks, ties, belts, badges and uniform so that the morning is not spent in running around and searching for things. You could organize your children's cupboards into two sections - one for school related items and the other for daily wear. Maybe placing colorful boxes in the cupboard to hold smaller things like badges, ribbons, scrunchies, ties and socks might be a good idea so that children need not rummage through their cupboards during the morning rush.
Plan your weekly menu
Use your weekends to stock up on healthy dry snacks like chikki, dry fruits, fruit bars, whole grain cookies etc to supplement your child's snack box. The prep work for lunch boxes could be done the previous night - for instance, keeping chopped vegetables, batters, sandwich fillers and ground masalas ready so that you can just toss them together the next morning. Consulting your children on the weekly menu may not be a bad idea to please picky eaters.
Get a head start
Try and wake up at least half an hour in advance to catch your cup of coffee in peace, to do your morning exercise or just spend a few minutes with yourself before waking up the rest of the household. This will help you get those precious moments before the morning rush and put you in the right frame of mind for a good start.
Get a good quota of sleep
Make sure everyone in the family gets their full quota of sleep. The requirements of sleep are different for various age groups. While infants and toddlers need around 12 to 15 hours of sleep, pre-teens need about 10 hours and teens, 8 hours or so. Your own 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye is very important as well to keep you energetic through the week.
Make some issues non-negotiable
Make an agreement with your children about negotiable and non-negotiable morning responsibilities, preferably when everyone is in an agreeable mood! Things like going to bed and getting up at a particular time, making their beds, having breakfast, making sure that assignments are done well on time and other specifics that work for your family. While punishment is not the ideal way of dealing with defiance, giving consequences for it is definitely on! Like withdrawing TV time or play time or any other activity that would make your child fall in line. And do remember to reward compliance, preferably with non-monetary gifts.
Keep distractions to the minimum
Keep video games, game boys, favorite books and toys out of sight. Discourage TV watching while having breakfast and refrain from using it to motivate them.
Cut some slack
Don't be too rigid about bath times or morning chores. Maybe having a bath the previous night may work better for some or sometimes an unmade bed can be overlooked. Be easy on yourself too. Your house does not have to be spick and span all the time. Sometimes it is alright to leave your cleaning up for later if you are too rushed on a particular day.
Involve your children in making the mornings pleasant for the family as co-operation is better than coercion. Be relentless with your efforts and watch your mornings panning out the way you want it to. And be generous with your hugs and affection to set your child up for a good day so that they can carry it with them to face whatever challenge the day throws up. Nobody likes to leave the house in tears or in a crabby mood, so make a few effective changes in your morning routine to enable the family to start the day with a smile on their face and a song in their heart!