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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 August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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