In our Nailing your Morning Routine blog, we focused on a few ways parents can streamline their part of the morning routine. Now let’s look at some ways to help your little ones get through their paces a little more easily. Kids are, after all, the make-or-break part of the equation. And while there is no guarantee that things will go smoothly every time, there are many things parents can do to set the stage for success.
Do you have to wake your child up in the morning?
If the answer is yes, then your child is not getting enough sleep. One of the most powerful, transformative things you can do to ensure your child has a great morning is to make sure he/she is getting adequate rest.
Use this handy chart to determine how much sleep your child needs (kids individual sleep needs do vary somewhat, but this provides a good baseline). Then, figure out your child’s ideal bedtime by subtracting the chart’s recommended number of hours from whatever time you need your child to wake up in order to get everyone out the door on time.
For example: if you need your 2-year-old up by 7am, then they need to be down for the night at 7pm. Sounds early because it is. But the importance of adequate rest for your child cannot be overstated!
“Every hour of sleep less than (your child) need sets them back a year in access to brain function, meaning they act a year younger.” Dr. Laura Markham of www.ahaparenting.com
Nighttime is a fairly lengthy period of separation. Young children especially can be needy for mommy/daddy time in the a.m. If you’ve done your due diligence and gotten as much taken care of the night before as you can, you should have five minutes in the morning to spend reconnecting with your child.
Taking time to cuddle and chat with your little one will help ease their transition from “down time” to “go time,” and can do a lot to prevent attention seeking behavior from arising later. You can talk through the plans for the day, ask them about their dreams, or simply snuggle. Re-establishing your connection will help motivate your child to cooperate with, rather than fight you.
Get Dressed First
Getting dressed is one of the most common “snag points” in a morning routine. Battles over outfit selection, missing sock searches, watching the minutes tick away as your 4 year old insists on doing every button themselves. There are a myriad ways this part of the process can get gummed up – and it is only exacerbated when you’ve got five minutes left to get out the door.
Have your child help pick and lay out their clothes the night before (and keep their wardrobe simple: easy-on and easy off). After your five minutes of reconnection time, have them dive right in and get dressed. And remember, there are no rules. It’s even ok for them to sleep in their school clothes if they want or if getting dressed continues to be the major contributor to lateness or stress. Starting the day peacefully, positively, and punctually is more important for your child than looking catalogue-photoshoot ready.
Play it Out
Like so many things, practice makes perfect. And children learn the most through play. Get the best of both worlds with a little morning routine role play.
On a weekend day, when everyone is relaxed, grab two stuffed animals or dolls. One will be the “parent,” the other the “child”. Use the toys to act out the morning routine with your child. Make sure you both take turns being the parent and the child, and make it funny. Have the “child” toy dramatically whine, throw a fit, collapse. The “mom” character can lose it (but keep it comical, not threatening). Play through a number of scenarios, such as the “child” going to school without their shoes, “mom” going to work in her pjs, etc. You might discover something you didn’t know, or come up with a way to make things work better. At the very least you will both understand each other’s position a little better, and blow off a little steam.
A Raleigh Preschool here to help
No matter what sort of struggles you are having with your mornings, the caring staff of Primary Beginnings is there for you! We’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years, and our highly-trained teachers at both our Raleigh locations are always happy to share their wealth of knowledge with parents.