Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook about “How do I get my kid out of home in the morning so I am not late for work”. I have to admit there have been great amount of advice and a lot of it really wise.
In this article I just want to express my experience as a Children-life coach and a dad of 2 (10 and 8) who have gone through the same.
Let’s start with the basics. Getting out of bed and out of home is annoying for a lot of us. It doesn’t matter if we are kids or adults. My wife moans every day that she doesn’t want to go to the office.
Another important bit to consider is that the morning routine, especially when we have very young children/toddlers, is our routine not theirs. In all fairness, they can’t be bothered if we are late for work or if they are 5 minutes late for nursery.
A third point to consider is that children want to spend time with their parents. If it is a good time they have, even better, but if the choice is between not having mum/dad or having them grumpy they will always chose to have their parents even if they are grumpy.
Finally, I will like to bring your attention to what I said in 3 paragraphs above; children will mirror a lot of our behaviour and emotions. That’s probably why my youngest daughter says “I don’t feel like going to school today some days”.
Summarising so far as if I was a 2-3 years old kid; They asking me to get ready quickly for something I don’t care much and that means I won’t see them today, also mum doesn’t like it…. why should I do it?
Result: We get stressed, probably raise our voice or tension (don’t think for a second that those “honey” “sweet heart” or “champion” said under duress trick them) and the rest, well you know about it enough.
The solution: Change the game by starting to enjoy yourself that time and the process. Make it interesting and fun for yourself first and foremost. If you are having fun, chances are they will have fun as well and play along.
I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah right, easily said that done”. The fact is that it all starts with you, your moods and emotions. The tips below apply to you as much as to your children.
1. Give yourself time: Sacrificing 15minutes of sleep can make a massive difference when looking for the other shoe under the bed.
2. Plan it in advance and with them: Pack the bags, prepare the clothes, and let them make small decisions (“which socks to you want?”). Let them be part of it (“can you please bring that bag so it’s ready for tomorrow?”). Let them figure out what’s missing in a playful way.
3. In the morning, make preparation playful and relaxed: Competitions work well but only for a limited amount of times.
4. Ensure you reward (with words and gestures) good behaviours and ignore (or do your best to ignore) bad behaviours.
5. Add some novelty to the day, maybe stop in a shop or get them an unrequested treat. Let them make decisions (“do we go right or wrong”). Enjoy the journey and make a mini adventure of it (“have you seen those daffodils?”), where did we see the yellow car yesterday? Can we find it again?
I personally loved the car journeys to school; my daughter has a great talent for dj’ing with Spotify She would even choose the happy songs if she knew she was in a bad mood.
As you can imagine, there will be better days than others. Just stay with it, mainly because you enjoy it, secondly because you will be passing your mood and abilities to them.
Going forward: Think on what parts of the routine can they start doing on their own. Can they pack their own bags? Prepare their snacks? When do you think they are ready to make their own beds? They will accept responsibilities and thrive with them if they are handed down properly and constructively.
And if you were to remember only 3 things from this article here are my suggestions: 1) Make it fun and enjoy it yourself 2) Reward positive behaviours 3) They can and want to do a lot more than we think.
Have a lovely day
Javier Orti is an International Life Coach specialised in working with Parents and Children.