My mornings are a whirlwind. Are yours? (Chances are, if you are a parent, you laughed out loud at that question.) A successful start to the morning means everyone is fed, clean, clothed, and nobody has forgotten anything. Simple, right? Well, it’s easier than you might think to forget things! It’s important to get off to a great start – and you can check out more tips like mine today at the Team Kellogg’s site! Now, in our house, we share parenting duties, and a lot of the time I’m heading out the door to get to the office when the kids are only halfway through the morning routine. So when I pass the baton to my husband, he has to take over and make sure everyone still gets what they need for a great start to the day. Preparing for the day the night before has also helped us to stay organized and make sure everyone gets what they need!
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If you read here often, you know we don't have the traditional roles going on in our family. Kevin bartends in the evenings and I work days. He's the one home with the kids for most of the day, but I get up with them early to let him get as much sleep as possible after a late night. It works great for keeping our kids out of day care - but it also means that parenting is kind of a relay race. When one of us takes up the next leg to get ready for the day, we've got to be quick about conveying the essentials. If you are a stay-at-home parent, you already know that keeping the kids on-routine can be a challenge - but sharing the job presents some unique hurdles too. It's easy to think that the other parent has already handled a task, or to unknowingly do it twice.
It's not that the morning routine is difficult. Raya needs to brush her teeth and hair, and wash up. She loves her Kellogg's Froot Loops for breakfast, but she's got to have it in the princess bowl. (Hey, whatever keeps the meltdowns at bay before the sun comes up, right?) Roman just needs to be fed, changed, and entertained. I need a cup of coffee and I need to pack a lunch. Kevin just needs to get up. It sounds simple, but when you have kids... there is always a variable.
Well, there goes THAT toothbrush - and set of dry clothes...
Kids get up early. Or late. They make messes. A normal, everyday occurrence can derail the best-laid plans for the morning routine. It's impossible to say day to day what we have accomplished by the 7am parental hand-off. So not only do I have a routine each evening for preparing for the next day, but we have made our routine visual to send messages to the other parent - so at a glance, you can tell what's been done, and what has not.
So after the kids go to bed, and while my husband is at work, these are the things I do to get us ready for a new day:
- Pick up any toys, blankets, etc. left out from the day. Because starting in the morning with a semblance of organization makes it feel less like a tornado hit. You know, for the first 5 minutes of the day.
- Run the dishwasher and wash bottles. Make sure the "favorites" are clean, like the aforementioned princess bowl.
- Clean and set the table. With the princess bowl.
- Make sure there are still plenty of cereal baggies in the pantry. Raya likes to get them out herself, but will help herself to a whole BOX if there aren't single servings prepared.
- Set out the stool, toothbrush, and toothpaste for Raya to be well within her reach. (While I'm at it, make sure other interesting bathroom items are well out of reach.)
- Lay out clean clothes for everyone for tomorrow. This helps me remember if I've done enough laundry to get through one more day. If anyone is out of clothes, start a load of laundry. Leave the light on in the laundry closet, until it goes into the dryer.
- Restock the diaper bag for any trips out, planned or otherwise. Put it away in Roman's room.
I know this sounds like detail-overload, and if one of us were doing it by ourselves it wouldn't be necessary. But what we were running into in the parenting-hand-off at 7:00 am was that Raya might get two breakfasts, but never brush her teeth. Kevin would pick the diaper bag up off the table and discover too late - no wipes! Or I'd get his uniform into the washer first thing in the morning, but he wouldn't know it hadn't gone into the dryer yet before I needed to leave. So by visually setting up for the day - either of us can spot what's missing before it becomes a problem.
Kevin can see at a glance that if the toothbrush has been put away, Raya's teeth are brushed. If the bowl is still on the table, then she hasn't had breakfast yet. If the diaper bag isn't in its spot in Roman's room - better check to make sure it's been restocked before leaving! And on those days that Raya sleeps past 7 and he has to handle the morning routine on his own, it's easy on him because everything is out, it's ready, and she knows what to do!
Do you have any tips for getting your morning organized? Leave a comment and let me know! Or do you need more ideas for helping the whole family to have the best day they can? You can view more Tips for a Great Start with Team Kellogg’s!
Kellogg’s® believes that From Great Starts Comes Great Things. So we’re helping Moms start every day with a tip from the top athletes of Team Kellogg’s and Team USA dieticians. The thirty days leading up to the Opening Ceremony at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games will each feature a fun piece of advice to help families stay fuel just like the like the athletes of Team Kellogg’s™. To see all 30 tips, visit Kelloggs.com/GreatStartsTips.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Kellogg’s via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Kellogg’s.