School is about to begin, and so is the morning rush. Kick off the new year with a routine that includes your children.
Begin by planning ahead. Getting things done the night before can save precious time the next day.
Set out tomorrow's clothes before bedtime. Allow your child to help pick her clothes, even if it's just choosing a color for the day.
Next, the backpack. Is there information from the teacher that needs your attention? Take care of it right away.
Make a "place for stuff" in your home, preferably near the door where you can put everything for the next day.
Develop a routine that works for everyone. Does your child need a hug and kiss before he can start his day? Should he be dressed before breakfast? Or does the morning routine begin with breakfast?
Take time to evaluate what helps your child get into the flow of the morning and help her to learn how you can work together. Encourage your children to become self-reliant. It's good for them to build up their self-esteem, and it's a great time-saver for the morning.
Kids love projects, so let them help create a morning routine chart. Let them mark off everything they do to get ready to leave the house.
Use a family chart so they can visually see what to do before they leave for school. Use stickers, crayons or even magnets to check off each one. Use incentives to motivate kids to complete their daily jobs.
A music play list is a great way to keep younger children on task. Help them pick their favorite songs, and use them like a timer. When the ABC song comes on, it's time to brush their teeth. When Itsy Bitsy Spider is playing, it's time to come for breakfast. They will begin to associate the songs with the morning routine.
If it saved you an extra five minutes to sit with him and read a story, then does it really matter whether your son's shirt is buttoned a bit crooked?
The most important thing is to create one-on-one time with your child each morning. A great start to the day can carry you both through until you are reunited at day's end.
Jody Levitt is the executive director of the Children's Center on Hilton Head Island.