Not all of us are morning people. In fact, my whole family knows that I’m not. We have a note on our fridge that says, “I love the smell of coffee in the morning—and the sound of no one talking to me while I drink it!” Two of my three children don’t seem to be bright-eyed in the morning, either. But starting off the morning with a crabby momma does not set a good tone for the rest of the day. It usually leads to bickering and squabbling between the rest of the family as well. So we’ve developed a habit of quiet morning routines to ease us all into the day. This way, our chipper morning folks enjoy the start of their day while the sandy-eyed half of the family get themselves together before they have to start interacting with the world. How do we get a busy household up, dressed, all the chores done, and everyone ready with minimal conflict and conversation?
Use Routines and Checklists
Everyone in our household has a morning list they follow from the time they get up until they start school or leave for work. No one has to ask what they’re supposed to do, and there is no nagging about getting things done. It’s all on their list and they just follow it. We started with checklists that the kids had to turn in when they were done. Once it became routine, we stopped using the check-off method. We just post the lists in the kitchen. We assign chores a week ahead of time and post them in the kitchen as well. Daily chores are activities the kids are very capable of doing independently, so they require very little conversation. Since they know their chores a week or more in advance, no one is surprised by what’s expected.
Make Breakfast Self-Serve
Normally, breakfast is something simple, like leftovers that the kids can warm themselves or frozen foods they can toast. They may also choose hot or cold cereals, fruit, yogurt, or other easy options. We've found the Keurig to be a great kid-friendly breakfast tool, using oversized coffee cups and pre-packaged oatmeal or grits. There’s no need for discussion or argument about breakfast because each child is responsible for making their own choices. They enjoy the freedom, and I enjoy not having to plan meals or keep track of taste preferences first thing in the morning.
Use Routines to Designate Shared Spaces
With a shared bathroom, sorting out who got the mirror and who needed the sink was a headache every morning. Especially before a full cup of coffee. We now avoid all of this by staggering their bathroom times via their morning routines. One is doing chores while another is brushing teeth. Someone is making breakfast while someone else is doing their hair. And I was able to figure this routine out in a lucid moment after the sun was up for the day, rather than in the middle of my morning fog.
Make Exercise Part of Morning Routines
Some physical activity is a great way to help wake up your body and your mind in the morning. We added twenty-five push ups, twenty-five sit ups, and a quick jog to everyone’s morning routine to help brighten up tough morning attitudes. None of these exercises are noisy, and they're done outside or in a bedroom, so they're not disruptive. They also don't require oversight or input from anyone else.
Make Reading Part of Morning Routines
We fit at least twenty minutes of reading into our morning routines as well. If you’re not careful, a whole day can easily slip by without you having read anything for pleasure. We want to make sure the kids each get to read things they like as well as curriculum-motivated choices. This is another quiet but useful activity that goes on their routine lists. They can read anything they want, so there’s no fuss about it.
Peaceful Communication Leads to a Peaceful Morning
Two other quick points that make this work for us are physical affection and quiet voices. We don’t actually go all morning long without talking, but we do have a family habit of keeping voices low and using physical affection more than words in the mornings. This may include a good morning hug or a smile. We do things to help one another when we see a need. In general, we communicate with simple actions more than with complicated words. Taking the time to add a few routines has made our busy mornings much more peaceful.
About the Author
Jamie is a wife and a busy momma of 3 in Tidewater, Virginia. Outside of their full-time jobs, you'll find Jamie and her husband Michael (her Mr. Fix-It) chasing chickens, shearing sheep, and teaching their farm-kid-crew all the stuff they won't learn in school.
She writes to remind herself—and to encourage others—to be intentional about family time and let all of life be a school room. She blogs at Walking in High Cotton about redeeming the everyday grind, with boots on!