Updated: Jun 21
Re-build your routine chart to fit your family's needs and avoid morning chaos
In 2018, we came back from a year of travelling around the UK in a motorhome (the picture is Lucia, our home for the year!), and I thought that morning routines would be easy - my kids were now 10, 8 and 5, they leave for school at 7.35, how hard can it be to get yourself ready to leave the house?!!
I mean, surely I can simply wake up, get my coffee, help them find a few last minute things, and off they are, out of the door with Dad to catch the bus?
Hmmm... In reality, my mornings were more like this! I was a super grumpy mum, running around after them, nagging them. For the entire 45 minutes between waking up and getting them out the door, all you could hear in my house was
Get out of bed.
Put the book down.
Go eat breakfast.
Put the book down.
Put the book down
Are you getting the picture?!! That was for the two eldest. And for the youngest - well, I'd wake her up, get her dressed, get her downstairs, even carrying her if needed. And then get annoyed with her because she only ate two teaspoons of cereal before declaring she'd had enough...
Here I was, as a parenting coach, not even able to get the basics right..
Wake up to a stress-free morning and a peaceful bedtime with a routine chart
We went back to basics, and re-built our routine chart. To be honest, this was a tool we'd used very early on in our Positive Discipline journey, and I thought we'd moved beyond it now. Obviously, I was wrong! In a family meeting, we talked about what we needed, and came up with the order things needed to be done in. Originally, the routine chart had breakfast first, but that didn't work for my middle child (who would then sit at breakfast for 20 mins while waking up slowly) so we had to adjust when we saw it wasn't working.
Steps to creating a routine chart:
hold a family meeting,
list the tasks in order,
take photos of each task,
make it visible
What to include in a routine chart:
In our routine chart, we've included
clearing up from breakfast
going for a wee
making your bed
putting away clean clothes
brushing your teeth
getting your schoolbag ready
putting on shoes and coat
sitting waiting on the white bench - this is where reading time can happen
Once the routine is agreed, you need to make sure it's in a visible place. That's because just making the routine chart isn't normally enough to ensure it gets followed, every morning. They're going to forget/go back to old habits. When that happens, your job as a parent is to ask the question "What's next on your routine chart?" This is because we want to "let routines be the boss" I often bring my kids in front of the photos, without a word, and that's enough.. The more non-verbal, and question based we can be, the more co-operation we will invite from our kids..
What if that's not enough?
A routine chart is just one tool you can use to help you become a Positive Parent, but it might not be enough. For the mornings, there might be a need for connection, for getting curious instead of using orders, for learning how to listen.