It’s not uncommon for me to glance down at my watch by 10 a.m. and think, "Really?" As in, how is it only 10 a.m.? Even though most parents have the best intentions, it doesn't stop a diaper from leaking all over the crib or the cat from regurgitating food all over the living room floor, all while a full inbox screams for your attention. And all you wanted to do was make it out the front door. It’s marathon mornings like this that make me wonder: How do you create a morning routine with kids?
Don’t be too stringent about it, says Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and the author of The Power of Different, in an email interview with Romper. "Establishing a routine does help the ship to sail more smoothly, but so does allowing for the occasional steering off course," Saltz says. "Having the flexibility to let bumps roll off your back and not truly upset you helps with the overall smoothness."
This can be done, she suggests, by assigning tasks that are age-appropriate to your child. This will also help grow their independence, which pays off in the long run because that means they will eventually organize themselves in the morning. Saltz also recommends pre-packing important stuff the night before, like backpacks, homework, and school lunches.
If you are like me and live for school supplies, then this is also a time to whip out your prized set of highlighters, poster board, and Post-its to create a morning routine chart. This can include a schedule for everyday tasks, like eating breakfast, brushing teeth, and making the bed, according to Parenting.
Attitude is also key, says Dr. Shefali Tsabary, clinical psychologist and author of The Conscious Parent, in an email interview with Romper. "Rituals can be created in a spontaneous and creative manner," she says. "You could wake up with a morning cuddle, followed by a ‘race to get ready,’ and end with a fun family game at the breakfast table."
Tsabary says it is, however, important to vary some of these rituals. For instance, if on Mondays you all cook breakfast together, then maybe on Tuesdays you eat at a local pancake restaurant.
"The actual ‘content’ of the ritual doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you are present with your children, having fun and moving through the day with ease and grace," she says.
Flexibility, highlighters, and pancakes? You can do this, Mom.