Smooth? Better than in September? Comfortable? Sloppy? Chaotic? Needs an adjustment? The picture of perfection? Blew it again! Just makin' it! We'll do better tomorrow! Maybe we'll get it when the children are older. Needs help!!! Maybe we'd all like to magically create a robotic world where every family member systematically follows a prescribed plan, even a "job description!" The reality is that no families I know in Seattle have robotic members! Most parents I talk to tell me they would like to improve the morning schedule at home.
It's an ongoing battle to get everyone ready, leave the house together, and arrive at the intended destination with sanity, no tears and with everything you need. And, then, not feeling defeated at the beginning of the day. Time management experts tell us to follow a reasonable schedule, a routine. Yes, that usually works. What changes the success is when a child has awakened several times during the night with a bad dream and can't wake up on time in the morning. Or, maybe you, the parent, had a deadline to meet, stayed up too late yourself, and now can't drag yourself out of bed. We're behind already!
Other complications are just normal events in the life of a family. Imagine looking fifteen minutes for a missing shoe because it's the "favorite one." Maybe everything was going great, but the cereal accidentally dumped down on a child's shirt. Perhaps the whole milk pitcher slipped out of a child's hand in route to the table from the refrigerator. It could be that, even after the fifth reminder, your four-year-old still hasn't gotten dressed. She just wanted to see the last part of "Curious George." Or, maybe you dressed your 2-1/2 year-old and now he's taken off his shoes and socks because they "felt funny."
How many times have you retraced the steps of your child and yourself to find the special blanket or love toy which is absolutely essential for your child's peace and goodwill during the day?
Our good intentions get crowded out by the unexpected. Parenting expert Rosalind Duffy has written about "morning madness," in which she discusses streamlining the morning by preparing the night before. Such preparation lessens the amount of decisions/reminders which need to be covered in the morning and leaves time for handling the unexpected. This practice is more than a goal just to be considered. In practice, it really works!
One parent I know was such a strong believer in this practice that she allowed her child to select clothes the night before, get dressed, and then sleep in those clothes so they'd save time the next morning. Maybe that's extreme. But, readiness the night before saves a lot of morning hassles. That means bathing the night before, selecting clothes the night before, organizing possessions in a backpack, putting the to-go items by the door, maybe even setting out the breakfast, and generally doing whatever may be complicated ahead of the morning crunch. The final maneuver is trying to organize your child's possessions in such a way that your child can exercise independence skills and gradually not have to depend on you. The important part of this practice is sticking to it! (Hopefully, it also helps with the high-pitched reminders!)
For years, I have watched my husband's practices. He is well organized; some of his organizational abilities stem from his training as a boy in boarding school. Every night, he selects his clothes for the next day. They hang, ready for the next day, on the closet door. His books and office items are stacked together on the kitchen counter or by the door. This night preparation gives him more time in the morning and a calm feeling of readiness. Guess what? I'd like that morning calm and readiness, so I'm trying to follow his example. I'm getting ready the night before, too - it does makes my morning routine go more smoothly! My provisions for the day are stacked by the door. Ready! A mid-year evaluation of how family routines work is a good thing! Focusing on streamlining the morning stresses is also a good thing!
Will you join me in firming up routines, so they truly work well for your family?
The success that you and your child will enjoy is well worth it!
The PAC Newsletter is produced by parents working in the PAC Communication Committee. The aim of the newsletter is to help co-ops communicate among themselves, inform families about important dates, ideas, related classes and seminars, Cooperative Preschool solutions and techniques from other preschools. It also advertises teacher openings, and fundraising activities.
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