I wrote about the two minute morning warning before. It’s my philosophy that basically states that ten minutes prior to actually leaving the house in the morning is really way LONGER than ten minutes. Just like the two minute warning in football – it isn’t actually two minutes. The side that is winning wants to run out the clock as much as possible to delay the other team from scoring. The team that is behind will try every conceivable thing from calling endless timeouts to constant strategies to pray for a miracle and score. That’s why it takes forever and just like football the mornings before heading out the door are what I like to call the Two Minute Warning Morning. When I was a kid I had to be out the door at 6:50 AM to get to the bus stop in order to make it to school. The school bus was always on time. It seems kids today don’t really ride school buses anymore or schools are cutting school buses out of the budget. If not for the school bus I don’t know how I would make it to school on time and my whole morning routine centered around 6:50 AM. So I dub this Operation Two Minute Morning Warning.
The present reality
My kids are spoiled because we live close enough to the school that they don’t qualify for the bus but far enough from the school that it is too dangerous to walk. Also the younger ones go to pre-K and daycare so mom’s car is the basic mode of transport to and from school. Please also make sure your car is running well. Nothing impacts an entire day like a car that needs repair but that’s another story. Today I’m specifically talking about a routine I’m setting up with my middle daughter, the one that has the hardest time getting up and out of bed. In my head 7:15 is a good compromise I decided on to get out of the house and get to school and work on time (8 and 8:15 to work). Over the past year I have been slacking on “time management” and it’s finally catching up with me in regards to overall health, stress and work performance. I’m in a rebuilding year so to speak but I realize I need to re-energize this routine or we are all going to suffer.
So the morning routine is dependent upon the bedtime routine.
Just like football, the last two minutes of a game comes down to the preparation you as a team had earlier and practice makes perfect. If you are a single or working mom and you are not effectively utilizing time management you are going to get burned out – you will lose – Game Over! You will be like Tony Romo in the 4th quarter of a Cowboys game scrambling around throwing hail mary passes hoping to just survive in the end.
So these are a few things that I’m trying to accomplish in the bedtime and morning time routine for my 4 year old and this was the outcome today. While this is a shortened list, you can access the detail of each routine item at Establishing a morning routine for my 4 year old
- Recognize those things that are out of your control
- Create small goals and add them to the routine
- Get up an hour earlier than the kids
- Bedtime Rundown – What is it exactly?
- Morning Routine – What is is exactly?
- The Two Minute Warning – Now we are ready to make it out the door
- School Drop off – Probably every parents worse nightmare
Things I Learned from Day 1
Don’t try to do too much too soon – baby steps. We’ve been living with bad morning routines for a while now so best to ease the transition into a faster routine. I’m giving myself 40 days to improve this process
Praise and encouragement – You gotta praise the small stuff. I gave her a gold star for taking the initiative to brush and rinse on her own. If we successfully complete this Listerine challenge I promised her a new toothbrush. She has started asking me about floss and all the other Listerine products I used such as breath strips etc. She is too young for breath strips but at least she is interested in her teeth.
There are no such things as cheat days – I don’t believe in cheat days. Going off the routine is necessary in an emergency but a cheat day is a reward not yet earned. The routine is the reward.
I spend way too much time with my smartphone – I’m going to start putting it on airplane mode in the mornings. I have way too many distractions that early in the morning such as phone calls and cat videos. Stick to the plan.
Plan for the weather and your calendar – The weather and accidents you can’t control but there are so many apps on your smartphone as well as the morning news to let you know about this stuff. Plan accordingly. Weather related items such as heavy jackets, rain coats, umbrellas and rain boots should be in the closet by the door. You only need them when the weather is bad. As for the Calendar I have a few dry erase ones all over the house for important appointments, deadlines etc. I also have calendars in my phone that I try to synch all in one place. This can be especially difficult but necessary. Be mindful of your appointments and plan around them.
My daughter is a lot smarter than I realize – She catches on quickly and takes initiative on things. This should be encouraged but at the same time she can also be stubborn. I will be trying to find other ways to motivate her besides resorting to the panic yell. The panic yell will happen and that is inevitable so I’m not beating myself up about it, but understanding that this will cause stress levels to rise that I must deal with later. I remember talking about using a Kaizen process in parenting. I think I can use this on the morning routine. If you are not familiar with Kaizen it’s a process Ive used in the corporate world to address inefficiencies in time and resource management.
What I may add to the routine
I realize there are things that can be done on the car ride to school. That is about 30 minutes of car time. I think I will pack an activity box for the car with a book and toys to occupy her time and stimulate her mind prior to getting to school. I need to add more to my own personal routine such as eating a healthy breakfast or at least starting to eat breakfast. I don’t really eat breakfast and I want to start doing so.
So Day 1 was a success on my part and I think we will celebrate tonight by letting her add her favorite sticker to a chart I made in her bedroom. I don’t believe in lavish rewards as these are small incremental changes to our life but rewards nonetheless breed habits.
This isn’t a formula or a step by step guide but this is a process that works for me and is always a work in progress. I’m actually looking for suggestions and advice to make this better so please feel free to chime in on your thoughts.
Co-parenting or absent parent tips
So the question I will get next is going to be how to manage this routine with a parent you can barely get along with or with a parent that is absent. So if you must co-parent with someone who is less than able to communicate I would suggest a few things. You can talk to the other parent about your routine and their routine and compare notes. What works in their household and what doesn’t work? How does that child respond to actions taken in the morning and bedtime routine. Take notes and make adjustments and then ask for the child’s feedback. You may not go along with what the child wants but you are giving them an opportunity to be part of the process.
Let’s BE REALISTIC – BUT if you are like me and you have either a coparent that outright lies about what goes on in their household or doesn’t even talk to you then the only thing you can do is send an email describing the routine and asking for feedback, don’t take it personal when they don’t respond or respond back with a smart remark, and manage your routine on your own.
Even in blended families you could use some of these tips. I’m not saying their foolproof but it’s a start as you discover your personal style. I have a family member who deals with her stepchild in this manner. All she can do is explain to her stepchild how routines are managed in their house and encourage behavior towards that. It’s a challenge since her girls go along with the process since it’s repetitive and they live with in on a daily basis while her stepchild does not. I think that can be a challenge especially if her spouse’s ex wife (who is a single mom) seems to drop off the child whenever she feels like it and tries to force everyone to adjust to her work schedule. I do not condone that behavior and I believe single or working moms need to adhere to a more fine tuned routine. I support my family member but I do support the spouse’s ex wife because she can’t continue running around ragged and stressing herself out. If both parties would just talk things out and let the egos go it would be so much easier. Easier said than done since I am in the same boat.
If you have an absent parent these tips are essential. You are not expected to pull double duty but you do need to think about reducing your own stress by managing routines.
So are you in the process of changing up daily routines? Why do you feel that routines are necessary for kids? What are your biggest challenges in the daily morning routine?