Let’s be honest here for a minute, talking about what works and doesn’t work with kids can be a touchy subject for a lot of people. Everyone thinks their kid is different, and in some cases this is true but in many cases it’s not. Being thrown into motherhood so quickly it was sink or swim for me from day one. One thing I did know, I didn’t want total chaos in my home. This decision wasn’t just for myself, it was for everyone in my house – including my dog. (past dog, she was 13 when I moved in, old doggies need some structure too!)
Of course this didn’t come right away because I wanted it to. By trial and error I had to figure out coexisting with tiny people in a way that allows everyone a chance to have what they want – including me. Ladies, if you have children let me be the first to tell you that your happiness is so important for them. Motherhood is NOT supposed to be those memes on Facebook where the woman looks old and worn down in front of a laundry basket with a baby on her tit. Social media normalizes being a miserable, used up, overworked mother and this is not reality. If it is for you just know that it doesn’t have to be.
Initially when I moved in, neither child was in school. Basically morning routines didn’t exist to a point because they didn’t need to. And when you have a child that is under a year old, they tend to let you know when they’re ready to get up. (insert sound of crying/babbling baby in crib) When the oldest started preschool everything had to change. Bedtimes had to be set, clothes had to be put out, snack bags had to be made – you know the routine. Carlos worked so I would be conducting this orchestra every morning alone.
In order for this process to be successful it had to be easy and consistent. Currently, our morning routine is a wake up at 0730, bathroom, get dressed (clothes pulled out the night before), brush your teeth, shoes, coats, backpacks and we’re off. It literally goes this way every single morning. And the kicker you may ask? Well the youngest has to be dropped off by 8:00. We don’t live far from the school or the wake up time would have to accommodate drive time, but the thing here is that both boys are dressed and ready to go in 15-20 minutes. Since this routine has been the same since day one, I literally wake them up, set their clothes on their bed and go about my business until it is time to leave. They do everything themselves! Of course there is the occasional need for assistance with buttons or toothpaste but other than that these kids are rocking the morning routine. They are 3 and 5 – we started at 1 and 3.
How does this happen? Much like anything in your life you will deal with the things you are willing to put up with. I’ve heard the stories, “we were late because he didn’t want to get dressed this morning”, “it takes us an hour to get ready because she doesn’t like getting up in the morning”. Ok stop it. This may seem harsh but this is reality honey, your child is a child and you my lovely friend are the adult – case closed. You need to adult! As a parent or parent role, there has to be a level of authority in your home. You are responsible for raising these little people into big people. While everything they do won’t be your fault in the long run, what they do when they are super tiny people is your fault. I’m trying to help you here so take off your sensitive jacket and listen up! If I tell one of the boys to get dressed, there is no other action that will happen other than what I have said. Things with me and Carlos are pretty black and white with the kids. We don’t tolerate tantrums, we don’t tolerate hitting or yelling, and we don’t tolerate the word “no”. Yes I know you’re tired, yes I know they do this every morning – so put a stop to it. Consistency is the key here. If every single morning is the same no matter what then it makes it easy for them to follow through. This is easier when kids are much younger because their fight tolerance is pretty low. If your child is 5 and giving you hell every morning – it’s going to take awhile.
Think of it like this, if your child(ren) were on a consistent routine every single morning where at some point you don’t have to even be in the room think of all the things you could do. First, you could probably sleep in a little later because you don’t have the 30-45 minute tantrum period. Second, maybe you could enjoy a cup of coffee while they get ready or even put a brush through your hair. Just think of the possibilities! I would also like to say that I personally get up about 30-45 minutes before the boys do so I can have some alone morning time. This enables me to pee (yep, I used to hold it all morning too), brush my teeth, get dressed, enjoy some coffee, feed the dog, and most importantly get my mind right. Even with this routine you never know what is going to happen when the kids wake up. Sometimes they have to poop and spend 15 minutes on the toilet – so the last five minutes are pretty crazy before you leave the house. No matter what happens, I’ve found that if I get myself up earlier and tend to myself first, the morning seems to go a lot smoother. There is no need for rushing out the door.
Ladies and gents take back your mornings! Here are some tips that have worked for me over the past 3 years:
Prepare The Night Before
I super enjoy dressing the boys for school and on some occasions I will stand at their closet for 10 minutes picking out a shirt. Kids clothes are so cute, I can’t help it, they’re too many options! Because of this, I pull their clothes out the night before when they go to bed. Problem solved! This goes for snacks and lunches too. Like I said, you don’t know what may pop up in the morning, being able to grab and go is super helpful. This is also helpful for the super busy people who may realize that laundry hasn’t been done or you ran out of juice boxes. This is nice to know the night before rather than 10 minutes after you wake up. I laugh here because this has happened to me and you never know how crucial a juice box is to your morning until you unknowingly run out of them.
Make A Routine And Stick To It
Create an easy system that works at your home. If your child would typically use the bathroom when they wake up then start with that. If your child is super messy, maybe do the brushing of the teeth prior to getting dressed. Another reason I cut the wake up time so close (once the routine was set) is because it leaves no time for silliness. The boys are going from one task to the next with no time to cry, play around, or get distracted by the toys they left out last night. Sometimes the sense of urgency keeps them focused.
Stay Consistent Always.
If you’re in the process of creating a morning routine, Saturdays and Sundays count too. Your wake up times can be later but your routine needs to stay the same. Think of the weekends and summer as practice. There is a little more wiggle room here if things go totally wrong but kids at this age do not get the concept of time or days of the week. They have no idea that Saturday is any different than Wednesday so use that to your advantage.
Don’t Cave In Or Give Up – It May Take Months.
This is the hardest part of all. You’re going to be tired sometimes and some mornings are certainly going to be much worse than others. Do not be defeated by a toddler! Stay strong, stick to your guns, create consistency. Do not let people make you think that total toddler chaos is normal. I am here to tell you from personal experience that it’s not normal and you can have a peaceful smooth morning every morning.
Raising children, whether they’re yours or not, is no easy task. Creating a system of consistency gives you some peace and allows stability for your children. When our kids know what to expect they tend to be a lot more calm and cooperative. Try creating routines in other parts of your day. We have bedtime routines, swimming lesson routines and even dinner routines. This allows you to teach your child good habits and time management – which they’re going to need as they get older. It’s never too late to start something new – happy parenting! ❤