. The Morning Rush | Manitoba Parentzone | Healthy Child Manitoba
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The Morning Rush

Trying to get out the door on time when you have young children? Just the idea of the morning rush can make even the calmest parent feel a little frazzled. Juggling kids, work or school, and trying to do it all on time is tough. Take heart in knowing that for many families, mornings feel hectic - it happens to almost everyone.

One of the most important things you can do to ease the rush is to give yourself some extra time. Setting your alarm even ten minutes earlier can give you a more comfortable window in the morning. At the same time, recognize what your personal 'time-wasters' are: do you spend a few minutes lingering over your email, or watching the morning news, then find yourself rushing out the door? Try to stay focused in the morning, and if you find yourself drifting, make an effort to get back on track. Similarly, you might also notice your 'to do' list building in the morning, and might feel the urge to try and get the dishes out of the way, or to change that light bulb on the stove that always seems to burn out. But unless it's essential, this is one time when it's worth procrastinating. If the mornings are already hectic, doing more will only slow you down further.

Although it is often suggested that parents get themselves ready for the day first, this might be tricky if your children are early risers - and even trickier if they are hungry as soon as they are out of bed. Many parents feel that if they get themselves ready and presentable first, they can relax more, and really, as long as the kids are clean and comfortable, it might not matter too much what they are wearing. For other families, it is easier for parents to get the kids fed and settled before taking time to get ready. For parents of toddlers and preschoolers, it also might more sense to get dressed last, to ensure you get out of the house in clean clothes ? and are not wearing applesauce or cereal on your sleeve.

If possible, eat breakfast with your children. Not only is it a good time to connect with each other, it is also a great opportunity to role model healthy eating habits. Children are more likely to eat breakfast if they see their parents doing the same, and breakfast doesn't need to be elaborate - it can be as simple as leftover pizza, or something more creative like breakfast burritos. You can find more great breakfast ideas from Dietitians of Canada here.

If you allow your kids to watch television in the morning, you might consider only allowing it after the kids are fully dressed, fed, and ready for the day. Otherwise, you may end up in a power struggle over the last few minutes of a favourite show.

Here are some more tips to help you get your mornings moving smoothly:

  • Do as much as you can the night before. Pack lunches, sign permission forms, get your phone charged, and set the coffee maker. Enlist the kids in this as much as possible - most kids are happy to help when asked. Assign your children developmentally appropriate tasks, and break them down in to smaller steps whenever possible. For example, rather than asking a three year old to, 'Get your stuff ready for tomorrow,' she could be asked put her boots by the door, then her hat, then her mittens.
  • Pick out your own clothes the night before, and the kids' clothes, too.
  • Get your bag organized, and find your keys. Ideally, encourage your kids to put their bags in the same place each day so everything is easier to find in the morning. If your morning routine involves driving, you might even be able to put some of your supplies into the vehicle the night before, providing they won't freeze.
  • Check in to see what tomorrow might hold - look at the weather forecast, and take a peek at your own agenda. Having a large kitchen calendar can really help with planning - this way you won't be surprised when your child suddenly needs a swimsuit for school the next day, or announces that it's 'crazy hair day' in the morning. If your school or daycare has an online calendar, you can check it; and if not, suggest they start one.
  • Don't put extra pressure on yourself by trying to remember everything. Write yourself reminder notes, use your cell phone calendar to set reminders, add notes to your email calendar - do what works best for you. If you allow tools to do some of the organization for you, you might find yourself a little more patient and relaxed.
  • Keep extra socks, diapers and wipes handy in the kitchen or near the back door. If your little one gets a wet sock or somehow loses one before getting their shoes on, you won't have to run back to their room to get a replacement.
  • Organization is especially important if you have small children or someone in the family with attention related difficulties. Having things close by, and easy to find, is essential. Install hooks near your door, and hang those easily forgotten or last minute items where they are easy to get on the way out - things like umbrellas, extra sweaters, or your own lunch bag.
  • Be realistic about your expectations. Allow things to be 'good enough' rather than perfect. Even if the kids socks don't match or their hair isn't just right, it probably won't matter too much in the big picture.

Mornings might still be a little hectic, but hopefully these tips make them feel a little more manageable. Get the whole family to work together to get going on time, and things will start to feel easier. Check out the links below for more great morning tips.

Manitoba Triple P: Getting out the Door on Time - great suggestions from Triple P, Manitoba's Positive Parenting Program.

KidsHealth: Help Your Kids Get Organized! Organization skills are an essential part of getting out the door on time. But, that doesn't mean parents need to do everything. It's never too early or too late to help your child learn to be better organized.