We've all heard how important it is to establish a positive "morning routine" for our families. Right? How study after study proves that kids who have consistently constructive beginnings to their days are more successful in school and on the playground and, ultimately, at life in general, and how we're essentially setting our children up for failure and misery if we can't figure out how to pull it together and feed them a halfway decent breakfast (as they sit on actual chairs at an actual table dressed in actual clean clothes) while still managing to get them to class on time, or at least close enough to the bell that they won't require late passes.
It's not that I don't believe the findings of these studies to be true. It's just that as an over-extended, under-organized mom, I gave up on this particular parenting Holy Grail a long time ago.
Sure, I'd love to follow all the expert recommendations on how to fill my family's mornings with sunshine -- who wouldn't? But the reality resembles something more like a tsunami. And I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about, too. Do any of these 5 scenarios sound familiar to you?
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The Recommendation: Sitting down to a healthy breakfast with the whole family each morning before school significantly improves kids' cognitive function, leading to academic success.
The Reality: Chewing a stick of gum in the car on the way to school significantly improves kids' super-stinky morning breath.
The Recommendation: Figure out what time everyone needs to wake up -- then set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier. This creates a buffer zone to deal with any unexpected issues such as misplaced library books or last-minute field trip permission slips to be signed.
The Reality: Figure out what time everyone needs to wake up -- then set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier. When it goes off, hit "snooze" (because you have 15 extra minutes to sleep!). When it goes off again, hit "snooze" (because zzzzz). When it goes off again, sit up in a cold sweat and run around the house screaming, "Wake up! We overslept!"
The Recommendation: Walk or ride a bicycle to school instead of taking the bus or a car; early morning exercise helps kids to concentrate in class for the rest of the day.
The Reality: Walk or ride a bicycle to school instead of taking the bus or a car -- if you want kids to get there an hour late and/or develop shoulder strain from carrying that crazy-heavy backpack.
The Recommendation: Have children lay out a complete outfit for the next day (including socks, underwear, and accessories) before bedtime to prevent any morning wardrobe malfunctions.
The Reality: Have kids completely forget to tell you it's "Wear a Yellow Shirt Day" (other examples include: Pajama Day, Silly Socks Day, Crazy Hat Day, etc.) until they wake up 30 minutes late (thanks to you and that "snooze" button). Paw through dressers and hampers and closets in a panic until you find some poor excuse for the desired item. Spend the ride to school trying to convince kids that wearing a yellow-striped shirt instead of a solid yellow shirt on "Wear a Yellow Shirt Day" is NOT, in fact, the end of the world.
The Recommendation: Independence is key to a productive morning routine. Give kids a checklist of tasks they will be responsible for accomplishing before leaving the house (examples include making the bed, brushing teeth, washing breakfast dishes).
The Reality: Low expectations are key to getting everyone out the door in one piece most mornings. Make sure kids are wearing shoes and pants (if appropriate) before leaving the house.
What is your family's morning routine (really) like?
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