Professional organizer Julie Morgenstern, whose new book, Organizing From the Inside Out, has just been released, helps in that effort.
She says chaotic situations are common in the morning when you're dealing with kids. "People tend to leave things until the last minute. They don't plan ahead," she explains. "And mornings are hectic. There is yelling. It's an unpleasant way to start the day. Everybody's nerves are frayed."
Pam and Robert Joyce, a New York family, have four girls, ages 3, 5, 7, and 9 - which can be chaotic. But Mom is doing some things right, says Morgenstern. "She gets up 45 minutes before the girls, so she has time to herself and goes for a 20-minute run and has had her own breakfast and is dressed before she starts waking the kids."
That's what she is doing right. But Morgenstern adds, she is also doing some things wrong: "Leaving way too much decision-making for the morning. The clothing is an issue. They are picking out their clothes in the morning, which is crazy. Four girls will keep re-deciding and re-deciding."
So, here are some points to keep in mind when trying to get the kids ready in the morning:
- The night before, each child should pick out their clothing, including what they are going to put in their hair and their socks and which shoes and stick to it in the morning. Be firm about the choices being final.
- Make decisions about breakfast and lunch the night before. Everything should be put out in the morning, breakfast, cereals, juices
- Make sure the kids pick out their lunch before they leave the dinner table.
- In the morning, if you want to give them incentive to be out the door on time, they can pick their dessert.
- Ignore the phone in the morning. One phone call could throw you off your schedule completely for 5 or 10 minutes. Let the answering machine pick up, screen your calls. Only answer it if it has to do with issues related to the day.
- A checklist is helpful so the mother doesn't have to remember everything. And the kids can participate. So post a checklist by the door, including everything that needs to be packed.
- Put a schedule up if there are after-school activities that vary on a daily basis It's a good way to teach your kids how to organize their own lives.
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