The Morning Battle

I have resolved to putting a paper plate under my coffee cup every morning.

Because I’m not going to stop filling my cup up to the top, and the kids aren’t going to stop shaking the table.

Some battles aren’t worth choosing.

One battle I do choose, however for the sake of all of our sanities, is the battle of the morning routine. We all have to do our parts, or I’m convinced we will all die.

We are several weeks back from school break and into the grind, but I have had to regress back to the previous techniques I used to get my boy in gear to want to get ready for school.

I had a newborn back when he started school, so it was very helpful for him to get himself ready. I put a system in place when he was 5, and it really helped get things going.

I made a list for him titled “Timothy’s Job.”

Timothy's Job

He is responsible for doing the following on his own:

  • Clear breakfast dishes.
  • Get dressed.
  • Put dirty clothes in laundry.
  • Head to the bathroom (to find next list before resuming this one)

Bathroom List

In the bathroom, he will:

  • Brush teeth.
  • Use mouthwash.
  • Wash hands and face.
  • Comb hair

He then runs back to the kitchen to finish off the rest of the first list:

  • Get backpack and lunch box
  • Check folder.
  • Check library books.

These things might seem like a piece of cake for a kid to do, but I really had to keep on him to stay on task without stopping to play every 30 seconds. (And we now have the distraction of a toddler brother.)

I followed the advice given to me by another mom, and made it a game by investing five bucks in a kitchen timer with a loud bell.

Kitchen Timer

I don’t know why, but with boys sometimes the louder, the better, and bigger the party when it goes off.

If you don’t have a timer (or can’t find it because you have boys or other children), you can also use the timer on the stove.

As extra incentive, I told him if he can get all of that done in under 10 minutes, it counts toward his chore list, and he will earn money for doing it (right now we’re at .50 per chore).

Yes, he should just do these things on his own and behave magnificently simply because his mother has told him to, but until that day I will use the tools I have.

He only ever didn’t earn the money once. And it was a scene. Tears and frustration. But I stuck to my guns and rules and told him to try harder next time.

On days when he needs an extra oomph, I sometimes clap and cheer and recruit the little one into helping so it’s game on. I also like to remind him that little brother is watching to learn how to get ready in the mornings.

I’d much rather have the laughs and squeals than the grumbles we used to have. On both sides. So this really helped us.

I also hold myself accountable. He is a slow eater, and we like to sit at the table and talk while we eat. Or sit in comfortable silence while we eat. But either way, he is a slow eater.

I build in some extra time for that. I typically wolf meals and go go go on to the next thing but he is different from me and needs time.

I get up earlier. I’m not talking 3 hours earlier, but 15-20 min earlier than he gets up makes a big difference. Or a half hour earlier if I need to get myself ready first.

I don’t like to stand over him and bark commands and rush him. Some mornings will call for that, but I don’t want it to be the norm.

No electronics. No tv, no radio, and especially no phone. I use the time I get up earlier to check emails, fb notifications, etc. Or I just sit and enjoy the silence.

Seriously, try it. You will be amazed at how much extra time you feel like you have if everything is off while getting ready. You can catch up on news in the car or on your phone after everyone is ready.

The timer was great. He would race around trying to see how fast he could get things done (and done well, is important to point out to them)

So we had smiles and laughter which made me feel a lot better, and got him into good habits.

Every morning will not be perfect, but doing this helped us so much.

New line

I even felt led to add in an extra line to the top of his list. Got him laughing, anyway 🙂

Push on through, parents! They will love us for it one day.

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