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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Our Morning Routine (And How I Shifted Responsibility for my Kids to my Kids)

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the way it has relaxed our mornings. I never have to wake the baby up to take the kids to school and there is no hurried packing of lunches or frantic searches for matching shoes. (I remember those mornings well from last year when we went to a traditional school 2 days a week...yes even 2 days a week stressed me out. I have a very low threshold for being stressed out by parenthood.)

Nowadays we don't actually HAVE to go anywhere in the morning, which is great, but early on in the year I discovered that by the time breakfast was over, I already felt behind on the day. The kids would run off to play and I was left staring at the kitchen mess. After straightening the kitchen I would go in search of the kids and pass three messy unmade beds along the way before finally locating the PJ clad  crew by the scent of either their not-so-fresh morning breath or not-so-fresh diaper. Yikes.

By the time I was done supervising basic hygiene I was worn out and irritated and not exactly the inspired teacher I had planned to be when I got out of bed that morning.

Y'all know I am all about the kids' taking responsibility for themselves, so I went on a mission to impose order on our morning routine. I wanted to distribute more responsibility onto the kids' shoulders and also free myself up to get ready for the day. (If I am still in PJs by 10am, I have been known to declare it "PJ DAY!" and turn on Magic School bus for two or three episodes hours. Fun for a day but supposedly not a great "long-term educational plan" for my four budding scholars.)

Over the past year we have finally fallen into a somewhat predictable morning routine that looks like this:
  • Mom wakes up, works out and/or has quiet time. 
    • This is paramount to my day. I do the Kayla Itsines BBG program 3 mornings a week and on those days, I have an abbreviated quiet time afterwards. On my off days, I still get up before the kids and stumble to my sacred space for Bible reading/prayer and some meditative time. I am not one who can wake up pleasantly to tiny humans demanding my attention. I wake up pleasantly to coffee and Jesus. If I slack off on the early wake-up call, I regret it by 8am. Not optional for me. 

  • The kids arrive in the kitchen for breakfast. 
    • Most mornings I offer them eggs or oatmeal, they counter with a demand for cereal and/or pancakes and we compromise on Eggos slathered with peanut butter. 

  • After breakfast the kids (and I) do our "High Five" tasks. 
    • This was a genius little idea I got from fellow blogger and friend, Sally. The kids have five tasks they have to complete before getting a high five from Mom. This combined with our chore chart have truly changed our mornings. What's on the list? 
      • Make your bed
      • Eat breakfast
      • Brush your teeth
      • Get dressed
      • Do your chore 
    • The kids actually LOVE this and it saves me from having to go over the same list of to-dos again and again. Once they get their high five, the kitchen has (somewhat) recovered from breakfast and we are all (mostly) ready to tackle the day. 
Our chore chart still looks like the one from this post. I simply looked around in the morning and picked 3 things I was tired of doing that I knew the kids could handle. For us, those are Feeding the Dog, Sweeping Under the Table and Emptying/Loading the Dishwasher. Once they tackle those things and I put up the breakfast fixings, the kitchen looks semi-clean. At least clean enough that I am not stressed out every time I pass by it until lunch.

I love that I am not hounding them with a list of things that need to be done and they are not making a new mess while I'm trying to clean up the one from breakfast. 

Now it's your turn: what does your morning routine look like? Have you found any little tricks that make it run more smoothly? (If so, share please. #thankssomuch) Would you say you dread the morning routine or do you embrace it?!

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