The Morning Rush—Conquer it!
There are plenty of things that can cause this Mommy to stress out and become not so graceful, and the one I’ve recently tackled and held down for a pin (mostly, please let’s be real here), is the morning rush. Being a former collegiate athlete helps sometimes I think—see the adversary: 5 little people, the challenge: all 5 dressed, fed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, beds made, lunch/snack in backpack, socks on, shoes at the door (I mean actually VISIBLE at the door—BOTH of them), homework IN tow, morning devotions done and Scripture verses read over them AND on time to make the bus stop! I’m sorry, did I just say on time? Worst two words for me…I have to be there on time?!?! Do you have any idea what that means?? Serious pressure.
But, I was all done with the chaotic mornings, frustrating rants of little people—and sadly, Mommy too. Nothing like having everyone ready and then we cannot find a shoe….talk about unraveling in a hurry. And, what’s that? You have to poop? Right now, really? Can’t you hold it? Right, you are pressing your hand on your bottom with “the look”, no, Mom it CANNOT wait. Awesome.
Then, try and regroup my attitude to read God’s precious Word over them? Yeah, that goes real well…
I cannot tell you how many times I have had to apologize to all of them for getting so frustrated, when really, they are all under the age of 8, and they need a leader who is organized. So get real Mom, make a plan and do it. Really do it. So I did, we did, and I am happy to say that our mornings are now beautiful, truly. Here’s what we implemented in our home:
1. Pre-Planning Outfits. The Sunday before the week starts get with your kids and get their outfits ready for the week. We bought those closet hanger things from Target or Wal-Mart and put an outfit for each day in there, including socks. Look at your weather and plan accordingly. This may sound obvious, but this lady neglected that a few times and had to adjust outfits due to a cold snap that I was unaware of. Thank you Weather Channel app.
2. Lunches/Snacks/Water bottles being ready the day before. As part of the kids’ afternoon chores, one of them is to make their own lunch. So, have this done the day before, so in the morning all they have to do is grab their lunch, add an ice pack and put it in their backpacks. Beautiful. More on afternoon chores later. (I heart chores).
3. Get up first. I get up before anyone else, (well, not before my husband, but before the little people) and have a huge, no, GIGANTIC cup of coffee, read my devotional, my Bible and journal/pray. More on that later.
4. Get yourself ready, and while you’re doing that, wake the little people. If your kids are like mine, they are not what you’d call speedy, so in order to get everything done without a frantic Mommy constantly asking them how they are doing, wake them an hour+ before you need to leave. So for us, that’s 6 am. If you have extra time, adjust as needed, but we rarely do.
5. Morning Chores. We have actual chore cards that they turn over when completed. There is something magical about getting to turn the card over that works for them. Kind of like how I adore lists, and I will write down a chore/task already completed JUST so I can cross it off. We have 8 morning chores. 1. Go potty/wash hands 2. Get dressed 3. Make bed 4. Brush hair 5. Lunch/snack/water in backpack 6. Backpack by the door 7. Shoes by the door and 8. Brush teeth. They have to do 1-4 before breakfast and coming downstairs. Something about wanting to eat helps motivate. And, I have a “candy treat” card that I put out once in a while, just to keep them into it. We are a low sugar family, so I have no issue rewarding them with a little sweet treat here and there.
6. Create a breakfast schedule. We are implementing this brilliant idea (my husband’s idea, actually) this year. Why I didn’t think of it, I don’t know. After all, we have a dinner schedule…duh!?! No matter, he is the brilliant one around here, let it go woman. Fixing cereal for Hannah, eggs and toast for Bethany, scrambled eggs and a bagel for Samuel and pancakes for Lucy was really not too bad until that wasn’t enough, and they wanted seconds!! And what they wanted changed daily…are you kidding me? Seriously, these kids can eat! And this is why I coupon!
So, every morning we are all having the same thing. Be it oatmeal, pancakes, eggs and toast/bagel, bagel sandwiches, waffles, cereal, whatever! But I make a LOT of ONE thing. Yes! This I can do. Then, they clear their plates and cups and put them in the dishwasher! This is a recent step for us, so I am still quite excited about it. Yes, Hannah has to help reach to turn on the water for the more vertically challenged ones, but she rinses, they load. *Side note* We strongly encourage chivalry in our house, and clearing dishes for the ladies is something Samuel has to do. However, being that he has 4 sisters and a Mommy to clear for–and that I am quite certain that my girls would love nothing more than to have Samuel be their little man slave, he is only required to do this at dinner time. And during breakfast, I read our morning devotion, write down prayer requests, and pray together. Unless of course it is one of *those* mornings. In which case I am usually wearing my slippers to the bus stop, reciting our daily verses as we drive and doing our devotion in the car while waiting for the bus.
7. Finish chores. They are to finish their remaining chores either while I’m finishing up breakfast, or once they are done eating and clearing their dishes.
8. Reward time/read Scripture verses and off we go! IF they do all their chores in a timely manner, limited goofing off—(there will be some, they are kids for crying out loud!), and with a happy heart, they earn 3 special jewels for their treasure chests. This is our reward system.
I read the same Scripture verses over them every morning. I fell in love with this idea as soon as I heard it! One of my favorite Bible teachers is Priscilla Shirer and a few summers ago, my church hosted a simulcast teaching of hers. In it she shared with us the verses she reads over her boys every morning. So I ripped it out of my booklet, laminated it and used Velcro to attach it to my back door. So it stares at us and I love it. Sure, it is the same verses being read every morning, but you know what? We all know them now. I’m reminded of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” And, if I am even tempted to skip it in the morning, the kids quickly grab it and hand it to me to read.
9. Out the door in peace and ON TIME! Check! And, pat yourself on the back. Well done Mom.
*Note: The picture at the top are Hannah’s chore cards. And let me also add that before I made them look like that, I ripped notebook paper into little squares and wrote their chores on those. No sense spending the time on something that I am not sure will work! Well, then I saw how GREAT it worked, so we have afternoon chore cards too. Those do not have pretty stickers. They are hand written, but on different colored cards. Each color for a different child.
*Below is my favorite devotional for this age that I’ve seen. And, I like writing their prayer requests down, so we can go back (when we remember) and write when God answered. We might go to a prayer journal with our devotional because our book pages are running out of room!!