So we have 8 more days until we have to get back into the swing of homework and school drop offs.
Miss Chocolate Ice Cream face
The much neater Slurpee-Sipper
The kids are still relishing their summer schedule (these were taken after I picked them up from their summer camp field trip to the museum & treated them with 7-11 goodies). I am taking comfort in knowing that even with the summer routine, we didn't stray too far from their usual bedtimes and the kids and I do have an iron-clad morning routine in place.
When Danny and I got married late last year and we all moved into our apartment, it was difficult adjusting everyone to a morning school-day routine. Of course Danny's out because he's up and out of the house before daylight, so it's all left up to me. I remember the first morning I woke up The Girl. She squinted open her eyes, hair tangled up like a bird's nest and silently opened up the curtains to look out into the dark morning. She turned her head to look at me and the expression was priceless, very much a "What in the world are you thinking woman? It's still dark outside!".
5:15-Alarm goes off. I hit snooze!
5:24-I get up, put in contact lenses and pee.
5:30-I wake up the kids by opening their room, setting out The Girl's clothes on her bed with a pair of underpants & socks. The Girl gets up and heads to the bathroom. The Boy crawls out of bed and they switch places when The Girl returns. She shuts the bedroom door & gets dressed. In the spare room where The Boy keeps his clothes, I set out his uniform, a pair of underpants & socks (to remind him to change them!)and then head downstairs.
5:35-I prepare breakfast. It's generally frozen waffles (made fresh over the weekend from Bisquick mix), a bowl of cereal or peanut butter toast. The Boy likes canned or fresh fruit, yogurt, scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos and oatmeal but The Girl will only stick with the first three things so it's all kept pretty basic when she's with us. I set it on the table with a glass of milk for each kid along with their vitamins and they start in eating once they come downstairs. If I've not yet packed lunches the night before, I'll do that now too and also pack up my own lunch & snack to take to work.
5:50-I head upstairs. I put paste on the kid's toothbrushes (because they tend to get the paste all over the sink if I leave that for them to do) and then get myself ready. Make-up, clothes, hair. I shout down encouragements to "keep eating" to The Girl, who often moves slow as molasses in the morning & supervise tooth brushing if need be. The Boy turns on the TV (because he's always the first one ready). It's generally Big Cat Diaries on Animal Planet, Family Matters or Full House on Nickelodeon or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Disney Channel.
6:20-I head downstairs. The Girl sits on the ottoman and I brush out her hair and set it for the day. It's nearly waist length and wavy so it has to get set out of her face, so I usually have to secure little elastics near the forehead line and braid or put into ponytails.
6:30-I'll do a quick kitchen check while the kids put their shoes on. Sometimes I'll turn the dishwasher on if it's full. We grab our backpacks/purse/lunch bags/etc and head out the door.
6:40-Drop off The Boy at his school (I keep the car running & he goes into his morning care group).
7:05-Drop off The Girl at her school (I have to actual park on the street, escort her inside and sign her in to her morning care group each day).
7:30-Squeal into work, just on time!
We were able to relax a little on the timeline and pushed this all back about 20 minutes in the summer since they were both attending the same camp and I didn't have to drive to two different places. I have stuck with this morning routine for the past 8 months and the kids know just what to do now without any prompting.
But I can see it now. Come early December, I'm going to be adding a newborn into the morning mix. The kids will still have about 2 weeks left of school before their vacations, I'll be nursing the new kid and still trying to get them all out the door and to their two separate locations on time for school. And then of course, once I have to go back to work (ugh, I cringe to even think...) I'll be getting three kids ready and driven to three different locations and still trying to get myself to work at a decent time! I'm going to be pushing this timeline back probably another 30-45 minutes then so I'll have time to feed/diaper/dress another little body.
So, in anticipation of having another little one to care for in the morning, I think it's time to mix things up a little and streamline just a tad bit more.
#1. A kid's room alarm clock.
I am going to purchase an alarm clock for the older kids that we'll set the night before. This way if I'm in another room, nursing the baby, they'll still be waking on time and getting their morning routine in motion. I hope that they won't figure out how to press snooze...
#2. Getting their own clothes, underpants and socks out.
We already have these fantastic closet organizers so they do know what they are wearing for the week in advance.
I had these exact organizers customized with Monday through Friday so the kid's clothes are already laid out for the week and ready to go in their closet.
It would be really easy for me to make a little bag that hangs over the hanger that would include their underpants and socks for the day (and maybe The Girl's hair bow?) so they don't grab orange polka-dotted socks when they are wearing a striped red dress (when left to her own devices, it's happened!).
A pattern for a clothespin hanger, but this could hold socks, underpants & a bow
#3. Preparing their own breakfast.
I was reading another blogger's idea about making up their own oatmeal packets into individual Ziplock baggies. The Boy would definitely go for this and he's advanced enough to measure out the water or milk and push the correct button on the microwave to warm the liquid before stirring it in the bowl.
I can do the same with cereal in bags for The Girl. This is something we could set up once a week, place all the choices into a basket in the pantry closet and then reuse the bags for the following week.
I can easily set out bowls onto the dining room table the night before, or even get special morning breakfast-ware that could be kept in the pantry when they kids could reach them (because too many times I've found a kid on the counter trying to reach the porcelain bowls by themselves!).
I will have to purchase two new things however. A new Pyrex measuring cup (because I accidentally smashed mine into a billion pieces all over the kitchen counter last night!) and a smallish pitcher/container to hold milk that the kids will be able to pour by themselves. They aren't confident enough to handle the gallon jug alone, in particular when it's full. The smaller one above looks perfectly sized.
#4. Trusting them enough to put on their own toothpaste (or at least cleaning up any messes they make in the sink!).
#5. Allowing The Boy to help prepare his own lunches for the week in advance.
I think if we prepare ahead of time like with the breakfasts, he will be able to just grab a drink, a snack, a premade sandwich, a bag of chips or cookies and be good to go!
The Girl already owns this freezable lunch bag.
So, how does that all sound? I know that I'll have to implement these changes slowly over the course of the next 2-3 months as we get back into the swing of school mornings. The Girl (being Autistic) can be a challenge to motivate but she's such a stickler for the rules that if I make these changes slowly (but mandatory), it shouldn't be an issue.
What changes have you had to make to your morning get-out-the-door-on-time routine?