Harness your child's love of competition with a morning game.
One of the most stressful points in the day for any mom is the morning rush. Despite your best efforts, you find yourself at the door with minutes to go before your job or appointment begins, yelling for your child to get his coat on. But starting the day this way increases stress levels for you and your toddler or preschooler. A morning routine brings calm to the household and develops your child’s organizational skills -- skills he will carry into adulthood. Routine doesn’t have to be boring -- harness your child’s love of competition with a game that will have him excited to get ready.
1Prepare as much as possible the night before. Set the table for breakfast. If your child is old enough, have him set out plastic dishes, cutlery and napkins. Put on a timer and have him race against the clock to see how fast he can finish. Help him choose his clothes for the next day. Pick out your own clothes. Set your alarm to go off 15 minutes earlier. Often, morning chaos is simply a result of too little time. Plan to leave the house 10 minutes early to allow for las-minute issues, like your child suddenly demanding his favorite Teddy bear (which may or may not be hidden under a pillow or blanket).
2Create a colorful chart on paper using a ruler and a marker or colored pen. Cut pictures from magazines or family photos showing each step in your child’s morning preparations. Cut out a picture of a child’s outfit or a photo of your child fully dressed and paste it in the first column for the “getting dressed” task. Tailor this column to your needs. Include chores like making the bed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and combing hair. Create columns for each day of the week, with a check box in each row next to your picture tasks. Your toddler or preschooler will enjoy helping to select the pictures.
3Give the chart to your child in the morning. Have him use the bingo dabber to put a circle in the checkbox for each task he completes without protest that day. Watch as he rushes to get ready just so he can fill those little boxes. If he needs some more motivation as the days go on, create a points total at the bottom of each day’s column. Tell him that, at the end of the week, he will be able to earn different rewards based on his points total, like a game of tic-tac-toe with mom or a visit to the movie theater.
4Write a list of items that he needs to bring with him that day on an index card. Maybe it’s the toy he always carries, a special book he is showing friends at daycare or his backpack. Call it a scavenger hunt and ask your little guy to find as many items as he can as quickly as possible. Create a points total for this task and add it to his weekly points.
- Create your morning chart on the computer if possible, using family photos, stock images and clip art. This way, you can print a new chart easily each week. Be sure to involve your child in the process of creating the chart to build his enthusiasm for the game.
Things You'll Need
- Marker or colored pen
- Magazines or family photos
- Bingo dabber
- Index cards