We needed some structure to our morning really badly, so I've come up with a plan that seems to be working!
You think kids have short attention spans? I used to be the worst one! I have huge tendencies to wake up in the morning and try to do fifty different things at once! Then I get distracted, go back, get distracted again, lose something, start a new project, walk back and forth, find what I was looking for, answer 100 questions from the kids, start breakfast, get distracted, start a cartoon,look for something else, go back, burn the pancakes, start a new project....get the idea? It can be so EXASPERATING to be me.
But, I am so, so much better than I ever was, and I attribute my organizational skills to having 3 children and a husband who demand and need structure from me. When we feel better organized, we all feel happier.
So, look at me now:
I have a special place to keep my cell phone at all times.
I don't start any new projects if I can't foresee them getting finished.
I force myself to follow a morning routine of order, before I allow any other distractions in my life like the Internet, or making phone calls, or new projects.
I don't answer the phone unless I know who's calling and why.
I force myself to let go of things I just can't do or get done.
I force myself to stay focused on the moment instead of getting carried away.
I carefully lead my children through a morning routine, that helps us all stay focused, stay organized, and start the day feeling awesome!
Sometimes it is REALLY hard to stay focused. Structure and organization doesn't come naturally to me. It is one of those skills that I've had to develop out of pure necessity. Everyday is not perfect, but I've seen the wonderful difference it makes in my family when I do.
So, we start by getting all our "important things" done first!
First we eat breakfast. I love sitting at the table with the kids in the morning. I leave the computer and TV off. I focus on them. We pray together. They ask me questions. We talk about our dreams from last night. They tell me jokes that don't make any sense. It's awesome.
Then we do the following things, in whatever order we choose:
do our chores
get dressed for the day
Morning hugs and kisses for Mama (that's me!)
After we finish everything we meet on the living room rug to review. I get out my playful, authoritative Mama voice and shout out, "Raise your hand if you brushed your teeth!"
The boys giggle and fall to the floor, hands raised high in the air.
Then,"Raise your hand if you said your morning prayers!"
And again, they giggle and roll all over, hands raised high.
I do this for all of our important things, until all hands are raised. If a hand isn't raised, the boys hurry and go get it done. It is a fun game for them, I think.
I debated for a long time on how to approach chores in our home. I think it is important for children to learn how to do work around the family house and take personal responsibility for themselves, but I didn't want it to be something they resented or hated.
So, I made these simple, nothing-fancy-charts, that I nonchalantly hung on the wall for them.
Micah and I chose 6 things that they could do easily around the house, like spray the windows, fold laundry, vacuum with the hose, wipe a dirty wall, pick up toys, and take out trash. I drew some little pictures on construction paper, and I give them a sticker when they complete it, just to mark it off.
There is no offer of rewards, and no punishment for not doing it. It has just become part of our morning routine. They are both really proud of their chore charts and look at them often!
So this has been our morning routine, for the past while.
It works for us and we are happy this way! Most importnatly for me, I start my day off feeling like we already accomplished something good, and it's only 8 o'clock.