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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kids Back To School Morning Routine


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How is back to school time going for you?  It has been smooth sailing so far at our house, thanks to our back to school morning routine chart, so I thought I would repost.  This post has been flying through the web, getting passed on  by all of you!  Thank you.  
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Yesterday, I posted about my Fall Morning Routine.  Today I thought I'd share my girls "Back To School" Morning Routine.  

This chart has turned our mornings from crazy to smooth.  It has turned me from a "nagging" mom, to a "more laid back" mom.  Before our Morning Routine, I was walking around with a bunch of crazy "monkeys"on my back that didn't belong there.  In other words, I used my  brain power and my words for things that my girls were more than old enough to think about, and to be responsible for.  Now the "monkeys" are where they belong, and boy does my back feel better!  

I had to break the "reminder" habit, where I go around asking, did you do your chart?  did you brush your teeth? etc.  All that was doing was confusing my girls.  If mom is going to ask or remind them about their responsibilities, (putting the monkeys back on me), then why would they ever step up to the plate and think or do for themselves??  

The key to my girls taking ownership was incentive and consequence.  If they do their charts CORRECTLY, without ANY prompting from me, they earn points that go toward allowance.  If they mess up AT ALL, NO POINTS!  This is where I had to get tough.  The first few times that they didn't do it right and didn't get their points, oh my, were there tears!!  It was hard to "lay down the law" and "stick to my guns" because they had worked so hard and diligently on their chart those mornings. The first day that we did charts, (after having a family meeting to introduce the charts and explain the rules/expectations in detail last spring,) they were so excited to earn points.  They got up early to do their charts, worked so hard, then... left their cups out.  Cups were considered a "personal" that they didn't pick up, which is on the chart, so NO POINTS!  I have to admit, it is a good thing Todd was home to help me see the importance of being strong, because I wanted to just let that slide and reward them.  But, if I gave in and gave them points even if it was not done completely, then they would never do their best, they would never take it seriously, and the charts would become meaningless. Those first few days of strictness with our charts really paid off, but boy, did I feel like a mean-y!  No more.  Now they know what will happen if they "forget" something, and I feel like a mom at peace who has taught the girls responsibility when it comes to their morning routine.  

Below is a list of their Morning Routine.  I made the chart online at this great site, it was SUPER easy to just follow directions, fill in the blanks, and push print.  Then I had them laminated, and we hang them every morning on our Chore Board with magnets. They use dry erase markers or dry erase crayons (did you know there was such thing? We love them!) to mark off as they go.  

Another very strict rule we have is that there is NO TV, COMPUTER OR PLAYTIME until their Morning Charts are done on a school day.  This is key. This motivates them to start early and finish so they can have playtime before school starts.  Without this rule, I would have to nag them to get going on their charts.  If I find out they disobeyed this rule, they do not get their morning points, but they still have to do their entire chart.

Back To School Morning Routine:
~Make Bed
~5 Minute Room Rescue
~Get Dressed
~Put PJ's & Hangers Away
~Eat
~Take Vitamins
~Clear Breakfast Dish
~Hair
~Backpack
~Lunch bag
~Homework
~Library Book
~Coat/Jacket Ready
~Shoes
~Personals
~Brush Teeth

Make Bed-they do this right when they get out of it.  Great lifetime habit in my opinion!
5 Minute Room Rescue-they do this for their evening routine, too, so their rooms never get out of hand.  I would like to get them timers to keep in their rooms.
Get Dressed-all the way to their socks
Put P.J.'s Away-self explanatory.
Eat-they help themselves to bagels, toast, cereal or pancakes in the freezer. Sometimes they make scrambled eggs in the microwave.  Sometimes I make oatmeal.  They all know they have to have some sort of fruit with the choices above.  If they eat breakfast with no fruit, no points!
Vitamins-they take a multiple vitamin, a calcium + D vitamin, and a chewable vitamin C.  If we miss even a week of this, it seems they start getting sick again.  I am a firm believer in quality vitamins, (especially vitamin D!!!) only because I no long live at the Dr.'s office:)
Clear Dish-this includes rinsing it
Hair-they need help from me for this one
Backpack-they bring it to the living room so they can grab and go
Lunch Bag-I get all the food ready and have it in 3 separate piles, 1 for each girl.  They are responsible to come in and put it in their lunch bag, and grab their water bottle from the refrigerator (which they fill the night before, it is on their evening routine chart).  Then they take it to the living room and put it with their backpack.
Homework-they put it in their backpack if it isn't already.  I always know it is done because it is part of the evening routine.
Library Books- I don't like it when school library books get mixed up with our community library books.  To avoid this, our rule is they keep their school library book in their backpack at all times, putting it back right away after a reading session.  Then I don't have to worry about what day the book is due, because it is always with them.
Coat/Jacket-in the spring/fall, they keep a jacket or sweater in their backpacks at all times, because you never know what the weather will do. I HATE being home worrying about them being cold at recess just because the sun didn't come out that day like expected.  Now I don't have to worry and have mommy guilt! :) In the winter, they put their coats by their backpacks/lunch bags in the living room.
Shoes-they put them by their backpacks/lunch bags/coats in the living room.
Personals-this is one of my favorites!! They go into each room of the house to find anything that they left out and put it away.  The also do this for evening routine, so it takes just minutes in the morning. 
Brush Teeth-they just brush in the morning.  They brush, floss, rinse at night.  We make the 2 younger do it where we can see them because we had the "I say I brushed but really just stuck a brush full of toothpaste in my mouth for 2 seconds" problem. :)

Side note:
For this system to work properly, I have to make sure all things are accessible for them to be able to do their charts without help or hindrance.  For example...

~they need clean clothes to get dressed into
~they need easy/clear breakfast options to feed themselves
~they need to know where to find the vitamins, so I keep their vitamins all in one basket in a cupboard
~they always know where their backpack is because we have designated spots for them
~the water bottles are always ready to grab because they were filled the night before
~homework, library book and jacket always stay in the backpack so there is no last minute searching

...does this make sense?  Because of thought and routine, they are able to do their charts in an easy and carefree manor.  Routines free us all up, and cuts down/eliminates stress, frantic searching for things last minute, and kids asking me a billion questions like "mom, where is my..."  Many people who are not naturally organized (believe it or not, I'm not!) may look at this and feel like it is strict and no fun.  It is actually the opposite.  These things became habit for us all, and eventually done with very little thought and effort.  It brings an easy, light, and fun mood to the home, and teaches wonderful lessons in the process. I realize it is not for everyone, but I can't tell you how much better our home life is with routines in place!!!

So there you have it, our morning routine.  Most days, when I come downstairs, they are well on their way through their chart.  I can always tell where that are at due to the 3 areas on the couches where they put their backpack/lunch bag/shoes as they get them ready to go.  All I have to think about in the morning is making their lunch and helping them with their hair.  So easy!  I love this Morning Chart!  It is one of my favorite parts of our Family System.  I am blessed to have a husband who is very involved and brainstormed what this Family System would look like.  One of these days I'm going to get him on here to explain the rest of the system, as these routine charts are just a piece of it!  

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8 comments:

  1. I think I need to print off this checklist for myself in the morning...

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  2. This is a great idea! I'm up for anything that smoothes out mornings, especially now that I have three kids who need to get out the door!

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  3. So, what do you do when your child isn't interested in following the chart?

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  4. last year we did a point system and rewarded with allowance.
    this year, we have not done that. we have just put some rules in place to "motivate" them to do their charts..here are some examples..

    1. No "screens" (computer, tv, video games) until charts are done.
    2. No friends over to play until charts are done
    3. No playtime until charts are done.
    4. If chart is not done correctly, they get one extra chore for each thing not done correctly the next day.
    5. If chart is not done happily, they must need more sleep, so they go to bed early that night. I add 5 minutes for each grumpy episode.

    I keep track of all this on my "White board for chores" with marks by their name.

    Sounds strict but really it creates such happiness and flow in the home. It is a pain at first while teaching them that we mean business, but after a few days, things become automatic and easy. Habit.

    Thanks for asking!!:)

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  5. This sounds really good! I am a firm believer that some children need more structure. Case in point, my 12 yr old daughter is very.....difficult. While my 6 yr old son is a people pleaser and happily does his chores. If I don't provide absolute structure for my daughter, she gets way out of hand and does absolutely nothing. Then when you let ANYTHING slide she assumes that's how things work moving forward....Thanks for the feedback, I'm so beyond tired of the "reminders" and "fights" with my 12 yr old....Putting this into affect NOW!

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  6. This makes the classroom teacher in me beam. If all households were run like this, imagine the ease at school! No missing homework or lunches or papers.

    Could this be published on the cover of Parents, please???

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  7. OMG... raising kids is a big task and to raise them well is even bigger. You are doing a great job as a mom. We don't have kids but when we think about it, we literally get scared. I understand that life would be beautiful with kids around but it is such a big responsibility.. pheww!!

    Hats off to all you wonderful Mommas!!

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  8. We implemented your system this morning, and I am pleased at how the first day of school went. There were no arguments, everything went extremely smooth, and they got on the bus at their earlier scheduled time.
    Instead of an allowance, our kids are working toward a privilege reward (ie: movie, bowling, extra computer/TV time, etc.).
    Thank you for helping us have a successful start to this school year.

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Thank you so much for your lovely words to me! Due to the number of comments I receive, I cannot respond to all of them - but know that I read and love every word. If you have a question in need of a response, please e-mail sponsornewnostalgia@gmail.com and either Robyn or I will get back to you.