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Getting five kids ready for school – fed, dressed, brushed, and packed-up – is a task in itself, but keeping them from killing each other (or keeping me from wanting to strangle them!) is a whole other story.
It all comes down to sleep, or the lack of it.
Here’s what I have to deal with: At night, AJ is restless. He is a master of resisting sleep and delights in helping his brother and sister in the same room to do the same. While he is terribly grumpy and tired between the hours of 3:30 and 7:00 pm, once bed time rolls around, he is wide awake.
Reese, on the other hand, would be happy to go right to sleep each night, if it weren’t for the fact that she is so easily distracted. I would probably be “distracted,” too, if I had a little brother jumping on my bed. Plus, she likes to talk.
Twizzler’s vice is books. Not just any books. Percy Jackson books. He is currently reading the entire series of 5 novels each week. Yes, he is reading one book per day, one through five, and then over again. I frequently find him in bed reading well past 11:00 pm.
I offered to wake him up after my 6:30 alarm.
I set five alarms.
- 5:00 – Wake KitKat up. Go back to bed.
- 5:30 – Move downstairs to help/support KitKat and watch out the window for her ride, which comes at 5:50. Go back to bed.
- 6:30 – Wake Necco up. Two days a week, I pick KitKat and her fellow high schoolers up from seminary to drive them to school. On other mornings, I go back to bed.
- 7:00 – Wake myself up. See Necco off to school. Frequently, I admit, I go back to bed.
- 7:30 – Wake the rest of the kids up.
And this is where it gets interesting. I have a learned a few things over the years about keeping the peace in the morning. There’s nothing enjoyable about starting the day off with whining and fighting, so I try to avoid it at all costs.
- Get enough sleep the night before. This is a must, and yet one of those tricks we seem to fail at time and again.
- Remember that old saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?” Well, that goes double in the morning. Kids feed off mom’s mood, and there’s nothing like a critical, yelling mom to start kids off on the wrong foot. Not that I would know about that personally or anything…
- I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure everyone has clean clothes to wear the night before. Nothing says melt down in our house like the words, “Mom, i can’t find any pants!”
- We pack backpacks, complete with finished homework, notes, snacks, etc before bed.
- We try to eliminate as many tasks as possible in the morning so that kids could perseivably crawl out of bed and be out the door to school in less than ten minutes. Sadly, that has happened more than once. And embarrassingly, it is often my doing. Sometimes I keep the kids in bed as long as possible to catch up on their sleep. And sometimes I am the one catching up on sleep.
- Soothing music calms the wild beast in all of us. I have a morning mix on my iPod which includes a mix of relaxing instrumental, Celtic, and Hawaiian music. What’s more smile-inducing than Hawaiian music?
- Even the youngest child can learn how to get themselves ready for school. Yes, there are a few tasks that kids will always need help or supervision doing. But kids are capable of doing many things for themselves, too.
- Finally, sometimes the morning doesn’t go as smoothly as we had hoped and one child is distraught, tired, and completely melted-down. After giving it a good try, I back off. I’m lucky that my own schedule is flexible enough that I can stay home with the fussy, tired child. Typically, within 30 minutes (usually less) the melt down has ended, the child has calmed down, and I can walk them to school a few minutes late. Being late is so much better than sending them to school crying.
What are your tips for a happy morning?
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