Amanda’s daughter Olivia is four years old and she’s in the first year of preschool. Olivia loves going to school but getting up in the morning and getting ready has been challenging. On most mornings they struggle with waking up on time, getting Olivia’s clothes on, plus making breakfast as well as Amanda getting ready for her day. Both mom and daughter often run around the house like mad to get ready. By the time Amanda drops Olivia off at school, they are both stressed out and annoyed with each other.
This situation plays out in many households every day. So what could make it easier for children and their parents? Routines are a great way to set up families for success. The following video and tips are adapted from Sunny Side of the Street, a program designed for parents and preschool children.
One of the most common challenges for parents is getting out the door in the morning. A morning routine helps organize morning activities so that children can start the day clean, groomed, dressed, and fed. Usually the most difficult part of setting up a morning routine is following the steps on a consistent basis, but morning routines ease stress for parents and teach children self-help skills that will last a lifetime.
The initial stages of learning a routine require planning. Get together with your child and list the steps that need to be done before your leave the house. When you give children some say in planning their morning routine, they will be more interested in maintaining the routine. Figure out with your child what order you will do the steps. Now you have a personalized morning routine.
Watch Carlos and Kyahna’s family work on their morning routine:
Next, think through possible obstacles and ways to overcome them. Some of the challenges and solutions are listed below.
Children don’t want to get out of bed.
• Have a bedtime routine so that children get enough sleep. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, preschool-aged children need at least 12 hours of sleep each night.
• If children have trouble waking up in the morning, give them an alarm clock. Even very young children can learn to set a simple alarm clock and giving children this task contributes to their growing sense of autonomy.
Children are grumpy.
Research shows that certain parent behaviors can help motivate children to look forward to the day. Here’s what parents can do:
• Set the stage. Many parents wait to get out of bed until their children are awake, and then they feel rushed and unorganized. When parents get up before their children, they can give more attention to the morning routine. This can help children feel more relaxed and at ease.
Children dawdle or resist the routine.
As with any new routine, children need practice and repetition before it becomes habit. Here’s what parents can do:
• Be consistent. Follow the same routine every morning. It can take at least two weeks for a new routine to become a habit.
• Give children choices. Find small ways that are acceptable to the parent that children can contribute to the routine or make choices during the routine. For example, children can choose the clothes they wear or pick between two options for breakfast.
What are some other ways to help parents and children get ready for school? Please leave your comments below.