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How to Get the Kids out the Door in the Morning

How to Get the Kids out the Door in the Morning

    Ask most parents about when their family experiences stress and getting out the door in the morning comes in among the top answers. With the right routine and words, mornings can flow and be one of the happiest times in your family’s day.

    As with any major parenting issue I always look at what routines are set up. Without a solid routine, one that is set up discussed and practiced, most parenting issues cannot be solved.

    Children thrive on routines. They feel comforted by them because they love to know what is coming up next. I liken this to an adult’s feelings of knowing that every April and December there will be a holiday. It’s so comforting to know that each and every year these holidays will be there for us. Can you imagine if one year the holidays constantly changed so that you never knew when your next break would be? Translate that feeling to the way a child feels about their day and I think you’ll understand why routine is so important to them.

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    Routine always gives children a sense of being capable. When they are able to take care of themselves or follow their routine they gain a sense of self-worth. This is a main trait that is needed in order to be resilient. The importance of resiliency is a topic for a whole other article, but it’s worth mentioning here. If we want to raise resilient children we must give them self-worth and the feeling that they are capable and one way to do this is through their routine.

    Getting back to the point at hand, what does a solid morning routine look like? Every family will feel comfortable with their own specialized routine, however in general, here are some actions that need to occur at specific times:

    • Waking up
    • Getting dressed
    • Eating breakfast
    • Brushing Teeth
    • Brushing hair
    • Putting Shoes and Coat on
    • Leaving the House

    Create the time schedule that you think will work best for your family and then share it with your children. If you have children 12 and older then ask for their experiences/suggestions after sharing; they’ll appreciate your respect in asking them. With smaller kids it’s helpful to practice the routine so they get a feel for it. (Like role-play).

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    If you need to use a kitchen timer for certain parts of the routine do so, particularly if you’ve been having difficulties with certain things like dressing. Kids love to beat a clock and appreciate having a clock telling them that time is up rather than their parent’s voice. However, if you haves mall children who are just starting school, skip the timer and see how they do on their own without the timer; the discussing and practicing should be enough.

    One key point to remember when creating your routine is to consider the areas in which your child might struggle. If they have shown that they dawdle while eating breakfast then be sure to have them dress and brush their teeth and hair BEFORE they eat their breakfast. If they tend to dawdle and don’t have time to eat that morning, the natural consequence will be that they’ll be hungry and will rethink their choice the following day. (Be sure to inform their teacher in this instance)

    The last three things that are key to making mornings flow are:

    1) Being organized

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    Be sure to have lunches packed the night before and have backpacks sitting at the exit door ready to receive them in the morning.

    The breakfast option should also be thought through. Could you mix up the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon the night before so all you have to do is dip bread in it for French toast the next morning?

    2) Being calm
    Your mood can change the whole morning. Get a good night’s sleep (in bed by 10pm) and wake up just a bit earlier than the children to allow you to take a few deep breaths or do a quick stretching routine.

    Keep your tone of voice matter-of-fact when you speak to your kids and give lots of smiles and hugs.

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    3) Being consistent

    You must stick to your word if your child makes a choice you wish they wouldn’t have. One or two days of going hungry won’t kill them. Just remember: show no emotion and remain matter-of-fact in your tone – no attitude. If your child senses your emotion or tone, the will respond with a similar type of behavior.

    Finding your own family’s routine and consistently following through on it will help you and your children move through the mornings with ease. Try it. You’ll see and feel the difference!

    Image: a4gpa

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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