Getting five kids up and ready each morning is akin to the ironman without all the hydration (I suspect the carb loading is similar). I wanted to share a few of the tricks and tips that help get this busy family moving each day without yelling and screaming and tears*.
*Mostly… there’s still the occasional raised voice, so if you want to count that as yelling… fine.
1. Make like Elsa and Let It Go
Our kids get themselves dressed. Yep, in whatever they want. The ONLY correction I will make is if it’s not seasonally appropriate. And even then… I’ll usually ask them to put a long sleeved shirt UNDER a t-shirt or a pair of leggings/ tights UNDER the skirt/ shorts. Do they match? Nope. Not even a little bit. Here’s my take: When my children are approximately 8 years old, they will begin to *care* what peers think. And this will be a sad, sad day. They will stop being silly. They might stop holding my hand. They will start muttering snarky phrases. They will say things like, “Susie says bla bla bla.” So I try to enjoy this time when they’re reaching for striped pants, a floral hoodie and a tutu.
2. Hire Line Cooks
3 mornings out of 5, my kids will make their own breakfast. I don’t know how it started, but I’d like to think they fundamentally feel empowered and encouraged to solve problems around here so one thing lead to another and boom… cereal. The little ones don’t pour milk into the cereal. That’s a rule. And until recently, they were NOT allowed near appliances. Eleanor has now been given permission to use the toaster oven. I usually come down half way through the meal and make sure they’ve had enough, pour milk, etc. but it helps that they have something to do each morning other than harass me and bother each other.
3. Lunch Bunch
Eleanor has the option of hot lunch at school, but the little ones bring their lunch every day. I hate packing lunches. Getting things ready the night before doesn’t seem to work for me because everything gets all soggy and stale, so earlier this year, I set up a lunch system that’s still in full effect. I take care of the ‘main course’ once I’m downstairs, but they know to grab a snack, and fruit, a drink, etc. One less thing to run around scrambling for.
4. Crap Wrangling
I JUST posted about our new homemade mudroom and it’s a saving grace! All the kids’ shoes are in their proper bins, and coats are hanging above on their hooks. Hats and gloves are there too in a little Ikea shoe caddy on the stairs. All this means that when I look at the clock and, in a slightly increased volume (a subtle difference from yelling… ha!), announce that we need to be walking out the door NOW… everything’s right there.
5. Share the
Despite all these systems, there are mornings when things don’t get done. But… that’s not on me. That’s on the kids. Sound harsh? Sorry… that’s how we roll. If Eleanor doesn’t get her homework folder into her backpack… tough. It’s totally appropriate for an almost 7-year old to be responsible for her own homework folder. In fact, it’s doing her a disservice to swoop in and micromanage that sort of stuff! If she forgets it, then there will be consequences at school, but isn’t that life? Likewise… if Oliver doesn’t pack enough lunch? He will be h’angry FOR SURE, but he won’t starve. And the next day… he’ll pack differently! See where I’m going with this?
6. Routine, Rinse and Repeat
For the most part, we have the same schtick each morning. Rhythm is a dancer, but it’s also important where kids are concerned. They don’t know how to tell time, but they DO know what comes when. After the dry cereal? Wet cereal. Clear your plates. Pack lunch. Say goodbye to Eleanor when she gets on the bus. Put on shoes and socks. Pack backpacks. Coats on. And so on.
Don’t get me wrong. Some mornings are smoother than others, but mornings around here are usually a chance to start the day off right rather than rushing around screaming and anxious about getting everything in order. That is until we run out of Rice Krispies. Now THAT’s a tough morning. God speed, folks.