Now I’m going to start this post with something controversial. I have never got the whole turning up an hour late to things and saying “Oh, sorry I’m late – you know what it’s like leaving the house with a wee one!”
Maybe this is something I’m good at! Actually, I suspect it’s because I have a system that works. Isn’t that the case for any part of the home that runs smoothly? Cleaning / cooking / the mess. If you’ve a system in place that works, that part of life becomes much easier to deal with. I don’t think I’ve nailed much else! And tomorrow when we look at the evening routine that’s maybe where much of the work is, so maybe I’m cheating by doing this first!
So, what is our morning routine?
Well – it includes (most days, most of) the following:
Making the bed. I still am quite sceptical about this. But apparently research shows if you make your bed you’re more likely to achieve other things as it’s a keystone habit – the first of the day and it sets you up well. Hmmm. I don’t know about that. It certainly makes me a little less stressed at the clutter in our room if it’s not looking like all four of us just had a wrestling match in the middle of it.
I shower before Colin leaves for work. Even on early mornings for him, I get up and shower and get dressed before he gets ready so I’m almost 100% done (I normally just need to brush my teeth and put shoes on before we leave.
The children get dressed straight after breakfast. Before breakfast and that’s just inviting a spillage, despite the fact they both still wear bibs for meals! Leave it until just before we leave and it is STRESS CITY. Daniel’s uniform is in a tiny cheap IKEA set of drawers in our downstairs loo so that it’s all to hand when needed.
The children get involved. The boys have to go and get their own shoes and socks before we leave. Once I’m finishing up packing the bags (school bags / change bags etc) then I tell them to go and pick their shoes and socks up. They each have a small drawer in a wee unit at our front door and this has helped build independence and cooperation with leaving as I let them pick their own shoes most days (except Daniel for school uniform) and explains why sometimes Rory has bright red trousers and bright green shoes with a bright blue T shirt. The actual sock putting on requires me but Rory can normally get his shoes on the right feet now and can even fasten some of the simple Velcro ones.
I put a laundry load on to wash. This is then finished when I get in from the school run (or later if we go straight out from school) and can be hung out then. It keeps the washing going. The problem point in laundry for us is the sorting, ironing and putting away….!
Bags are well packed the night before. I try to replace items like nappies or snacks from the change bag as they’re used and put things like homework or library books into the school bag the night before. Then in the morning it’s just fresh snacks that need to go in, or write some info on Daniel’s sleep from the night before for his teaching assistant to be aware of.
I plan to leave ten minutes before I need to. This doesn’t always happen but the intention means that even a dirty nappy (or even two as has happened) doesn’t have to mean we’re late. Just a little tight to make it on time!
I think the key is we’re rarely leaving much to the period immediately before we leave. Normally the boys are playing happily and I pop the bags out onto the buggy or into the bike or car boot while they do that, then everyone gets coats on to leave. The most stressful mornings are Saturdays when the boys laze longer in their pjs and when we decide to go somewhere then nothing’s done. And with the two adults there, often tasks get missed as you assume the other person did it.
There are two things I’d add before the challenge at the bottom
As we mentioned earlier in the series, acknowledge the season you’re in. Leaving the house was torture when Rory was a baby. He was so unsettled and screamed when I set him down to get Daniel ready. So be kind to yourself if you’ve a difficult baby in tow. Actually, it was this that led us to get the boys ready straight after breakfast. As frequently Colin left for work, neither boy was dressed and neither was I and it was torture. Plus I then arrived everywhere (roughly on time still) with half a change bag (e.g. no wipes or no snacks).
Early starters, try and make the crazily early period as quiet and dull as possible. Daniel wakes very early (like 4.30/4.45am early) and if we don’t get into him within a minute the curtains could be pulled off the hooks, his drawers emptied or he’ll have started kicking the radiator (you know the worst noise – because it goes round all the rooms in the house and wakes everyone up!) so that’s always a rude sudden awakening. Sometimes he will settle down beside us, but other days that’s him up. Either way I don’t let him get screen time or to play noisy games when it is still “night-time”, our designation is 6am! The days he comes into us we turn a light on and let him read while Colin dozes and I browse on my phone. It actually makes for a gradual enough wake up but never enough sleep, no matter how early I go to bed. But it’s manageable as it keeps our morning a little shorter. For a few months we just got up when Daniel did and you’d get to 7am and be by yourself as you'd have been up for hours but it was still ages before you had to leave!
Think of the area that causes most stress when you're leaving the house in the morning and work out one way you’ll address it next week.
For me, it is organising my stuff to leave – my phone, purse (or just debit card normally), hair tie and glasses wipe. I normally get the boys strapped in to their buggy or car / bike seats then run around like a headless chicken to get my stuff sorted. Not sure what to do though...!