I am bound a determined to make this a good school year. I start every year with good intentions and things fall by the wayside. This year, I have more than good intentions. I have A PLAN!!
It started out because the kids kept colliding with each other and fighting over the bathroom in the mornings. So I started telling them they each have five minutes to go potty. And while they are waiting they should be getting dressed and making their beds. With three kids and three potty breaks I decided that all three of those things could be accomplished within 15 minutes.
That means that 15 minutes after they wake up they should be ready for breakfast, right? So that's the next thing I scheduled. I decided to allow 15 minutes for breakfast because that would get us to 7:30 and it would be time to brush teeth, get backpacks and get ready to go to the bus. I need to leave the house by about 7:45 with Benjamin, but Frances and Henry's bus doesn't come until 8:05ish, so that would leave a little bit of wiggle room and even some free time in the mornings.
The next thing I did was take this schedule in my head and step myself out of it. The kids have been using my iPod for night time music since they've burned through another CD player, so I decided to set up alarms on that device since it would already be in their room.
I set a wake up alarm for 7:00. It plays Reveille. Repeatedly. It turns out that annoys the kids. So I said, "Good! Get dressed and get out of your room!" Then I cackled. Well, not really. Just inside my head.
The next alarm is set to play Mandisa's "Good Morning" at 7:15. That's their clue to get to the table. It's also a subtle reminder to make it a good morning. That song always gets me pumped up and moving when I hear it.
The kids and I have been able to sit at the table and eat breakfast together each day this school year. We have lots of different choices for breakfast, but most of the time we go with cereal or yogurt. Those are quick and easy and don't take up prep time I don't have.
At 7:30 they hear "Get Up and Go Go" from The Fresh Beat Band. I am slightly ashamed to have paid for this song, but it does the trick and I have it on several different play lists for them. This song means it's time to clear the table and get cleaned up and ready for the bus.
After we are all done running around getting last minute stuff together, I have the kids sit on the couch. We pray for our coming day and I stick in some gentle reminders about respect, behavior and being good friends. Then Benjamin and I load up in the van and the older two get a moment to themselves (or with Daddy) before they go to the bus.
The most important part of this whole routine is my attitude about it. I like the alarms because they keep us on track, but they also allow me to stop harping about what they should be doing. They know, based on which song is playing, where they should be headed. Also, it is essential that I am 95% ready for the day before they get up. As much as I would like to stay in bed a few extra minutes, it is not worth the grumpiness that it causes in everyone to do so.
At first I was worried that our morning routine sounded so regimented, but this method has really taken a lot of morning stress out of the equation and I think it has been totally worth it.
Do you have a morning routine? How do you handle getting the kids out of bed and ready for school on a tight schedule?