Part of the homeschool life is learning to blend home routines with school routines, and all homeschool moms love when a morning goes right. On those days, the kids snuggle or read until breakfast. They happily clean their plates, stack their dishes by the sink, clean off the table, sweep underneath it. Then, they all march in time to their bedrooms to change clothes, make their beds, and report back to Mom to engage in academic endeavors.
In reality, the morning almost never gets to this point. Some days, I’m removing breakfast plates with one hand and using my other one to rake the school stuff into a pile on the end of the table to clear an eating area for lunch. Some days we are all still wearing pajamas at noon.
Take heart, my friends. Though creating a perfect morning is a myth, in my estimation, finding a morning routine that works is not.
Here are some tips to get started:
Play to Your Strengths
Finding a morning routine helps your home run more smoothly, but it will never change your fundamental personality. I am not a morning person. I can wake up early. I can function, but I am rarely happy about it. Knowing this about myself, I don’t schedule tons of chores or activities in the morning. Instead, I try to set up for the morning at night. I run the dishwasher, look over the breakfast menu and get the coffee ready to go – all before going to bed the night before.
Your family knows the current system as normal – even if there is no system. Providing an entirely new system will have its hiccups. You are creating a new normal, and that takes time. Start with having the dishes cleaned at night. In the morning, get the kids to eat breakfast, brush their teeth, change clothes, and make beds. Work on adding a chore after breakfast after this first routine sticks – something like unloading the dishwasher or starting laundry.
Find a System
If you are a charts and graphs kind of person, you can set up a chore chart for your kids – rewarding them after a week or a month. Personally, I am not a charts and graphs kind of person, and I never follow through with chore charts. However, I like this super simple “morning high five” and these organizational tips. Mainly, I need accountability for myself with a to-do list, and my kids follow suit. (See this post about time management helps.) Therefore, my current system for household chores involves showing my kids the process (see next paragraph).
Encourage Your Kids to Help
Because I’ve involved my kids with daily tasks very early in life, on laundry days, I can say, “Hannah Beth (3), can you move those clothes from the dryer to the couch?” or “Parker (5), I need you to move the wet clothes to the dryer.” Later in the afternoon, I say, “Okay, kids. You sort, and I’ll read.” Kids like to feel important. Sure, they balk my requests on occasion, but most of the time, they know they have a big job to do for Mom. My best advice for getting to that point? Pretend your arms are broken, and talk your kids through a task. It’s fun, a little messy, but effective.
Isn’t this the key to every new habit? My kids know they should change clothes and make beds after breakfast. They know how to clean their plates after eating. They can clear the table and sweep underneath it. But wearing pajamas at noon while clearing the breakfast dishes to make room for lunch is not a scenario I made up in my head. When I’m diligent about modeling routine, they are diligent about following. It all starts with me.