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How many of us struggle in the morning to get everyone out the door and it just seems like nothing we do can lessen the chaos around us?
I've been trying to find ways to make the mornings run smoother and I came across some great tips by Joseph Klein who is a father of two young daughters.
Go with what works Weekday mornings go more smoothly when the routine is streamlined. Rule number one, avoid introducing anything that might be new or unexpected. That means don't spring an out-of-the-ordinary breakfast cereal on your finicky eater or expect your husband to take on a new chore. Instead, use the weekend to test drive new processes or tasks you'd like to incorporate. Reichlin also advises calling family meetings on the weekends that include the kids (if they are old enough to contribute). Let them know if there is going to be a change during the morning routine, and get their feedback.
Turn up the tunes A little music can do wonders in bringing order to the morning chaos. Reichlin suggests marching music for those mornings that need a little jolt and some down tempo music when wild moods need to be calmed.
Offer distractions Always have some backup activities on hand for when you need a break. Coloring books, a quality television show or video, or a favorite toy can keep kids occupied while you take a few minutes to get your own morning tasks completed -- choosing the day's clothes, filling your purse and tote bags, and so on.
Take turns If you and your spouse both leave the house in the morning, here's a good rule of thumb: the parent who leaves the house first is the one who showers and dresses first, while the other attends to family needs. Then switch. This increases the chances that at least one of you will get out of the house on time.
Offer limited choices -- the night before As you have probably discovered, giving kids (or even yourself) too many outfit options can leave you in a heap of clothes (both literally and figuratively). Offer your kids two or three choices of outfits the night before. And when you head over to the kitchen, apply that same school of thought to their lunches and snacks.
Rise and shine Alone time is such a scarce commodity when you are the head of a family. Consider setting your clock a little early to get a jump start on the morning before the needs of your little ones take over. Reichlin says that waking about 20 minutes before anyone else can offer precious moments of peace and solitude.
Don't stress over the small stuff Not everyone can, or wants to be, Martha Stewart. Sometimes beds are left unmade and dirty laundry doesn't quite make it down the chute. Gail Reichlin suggests creating a list of housekeeping chores in three categories: Chores that always get done; sometimes get done (depending on the day and time or who might be visiting), or never get done (because it's just not worth your time and effort). Check the always list daily, the sometimes list weekly, and the never list when the kids are out of the house.
Not the time Let's face it, as much as you want to get everything done, the morning is not the right time to sort through your mail or catch up with old friends. Stay focused on your morning routines.
Know your day Is it Tuesdays that your husband has early meetings in the office? Reviewing your schedule the night before can help you manage your morning with plenty of confidence and focus.
Expect the unexpected Allow enough time in the morning for those sudden ailments, and oh-so-untimely tantrums. When faced with a meltdown, Reichlin advises this strategy: kneel down so you are at your child's level, lightly touch his or her shoulder and use short and simple explanations so you can regain control of the situation.
Keep the routine It sure feels good to catch those extra zzz's on weekends, but that change in the routine can really throw your early Mondays out of whack. Reichlin suggest families use weekends for together time. So try waking everyone in your family early and plan activities as a group.