Morning Madness Tips for Getting Kids up and Ready

Getting kids up and ready for the day is a sure-fire stress-builder and a typical cause of morning madness. If you find yourself in a battle each morning, it is time to work on streamlining your children's routine. It is important for children and teens to get enough sleep and to be sent off with a healthy breakfast and access to a nutritious lunch. What can parents do to start each day in a positive fashion? Here are seven ideas.

Establish a Morning Routine

Large family in kitchen in morning, daughters (8-9) doing school work
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Parents unwittingly cause morning madness by not establishing that the routine is a family requirement and not an option. A non-negotiable routine must be created, with the consequences discussed and determined (i.e. If you don't get up on the first call, your bedtime is 15 minutes earlier tonight). Any wiggle room can cause meltdowns and tantrums.

Only Do What's Really Important

Some parents unwittingly set their kids up to fail with their morning routines by assigning unexpected chores and duties. This can result in whining and a mad rush to end up on time. Consider creating a checklist of what absolutely must be done each morning, then schedule the rest for later in the day. If you want your child to make his bed every morning, then make that a requirement. However, cleaning the cat box might wait until a child gets home.

Choose and Set Out Clothing the Night Before

Clothing, down to clean socks, underwear, shoes, and even matching hair accessories, should be laid out each night before bed. Youngsters can play a role in choosing the outfit, but no changes are allowed once their head hits the pillow. Then, stick with it in the morning The only exceptions should be an unknown tear or stain, or surprise change in the weather. This keeps getting dressed a simple step in beginning the day vs. a looming battle.

Stagger Wake-Up Times

If you've got more than one kid in the house, and especially if you have a large family, consider staggering wake-up times for greater efficiency. Start with kids who need assistance first or the ones who are real sleepyheads who move at a snail's pace come mornings.

Instill Self Responsibility

Why does a parent have to wake kids up? Kids can learn to use an alarm clock and get themselves up without mom or dad hovering and yelling, "Are you up yet?" Let your child decide what is the best time for the alarm to go off and get ready on time. If this means Erica doesn't get her hair braided or Sam doesn't get second helpings on cereal, encourage them to set their alarm 15 minutes earlier tomorrow. Cause and effect is a good lesson to learn.

Determine Breakfast Choices In Advance

You have many choices for what healthy breakfast to provide your kids, but make those choices in advance. You can have a weekly breakfast menu, provide cereal and fruit, or use the breakfast provided at school. Some daycares offer breakfast for kids while others allow parents to bring in a morning meal. Breakfast is important--some experts argue that it is the most important meal of the day, so your kids need a nutritious start each morning. However, that start shouldn't put parents in a work bind or make kids late for school.

Designate an Essentials Area

Designate an area for all essentials to be when you're trying to leave. Shoes, backpacks, car keys, cell phones, purses, etc., should be placed in this area every day, always, so they are ready for action. Keep a cell phone charger in this area. Not having to hunt down keys or other last-minute essentials saves time and helps keep your blood pressure in check.

Snatch and Go Theory Really Does Work

It's just not enough to get dressed and eat. How many times have kids missed the bus because they couldn't find their homework sheet or didn't have their backpack put together? If you drive your kids, then put their organized backpacks in the car the night before. Lunches should also be prepared just before bed and easily grabbed from the fridge. Jackets should be in a central location. The "snatch and go" theory really does work in the mornings.

Model Morning Behavior

Parents can influence whether their kids become morning risers or morning whiners. If parents moan and groan, are always frantic, grumpy, and running late themselves, then how can they expect anything more of their own kids? Get up earlier yourself, start that coffee, or do 10 minutes of exercise. Show a positive mental attitude and really mean it when you greet your kids with "Good Morning."

Exception Mornings Should Be Planned

One way to make it easier for kids to get up in the mornings is to create the occasional sleep-in day as a reward. If it's a school holiday, lazy weekend opportunity, or just about any reason at all, parents can make a special celebration out of the exception. This serves to reinforce the lesson that normal mornings have a schedule and that occasionally everyone gets a break from the routine.