I love a good makeover show. A couple buys a run-down house with good “bones.” They gawk at the paneling and turn up their noses at the overgrown yard. The keys to the house go to a capable team of contractors and designers. By the end of the show, the couple stands slack-jawed during the big reveal of their new, old house. Changes that might take a do-it-yourself couple years to undertake are complete in sixty minutes. A family receives a head-start in a beautiful home.
We can gift our kids with a head-start to an effective, productive life by helping them create a solid morning routine. By the time our children are ready to enter school they are old enough to establish patterns for life. With the start of school right around the corner, it is an ideal time to give your kids a morning makeover.
A good morning starts the night before. What adjectives would your kids use to describe mornings at your house? My children used chaotic and sleepy. Perhaps you can relate. Discuss three or four things your family can do at night to address the morning chaos and fatigue. Preparatory tasks such as taking a bath, picking out clothes, and packing lunches and backpacks the night before can set your family up for a peaceful morning.
This is also an excellent time to educate your children on the amount of sleep their growing bodies need each night. According to Dr. Archibald Hard, author of Sleep It Does a Family Good, school-aged children need ten to eleven hours of sleep each night (and, parents, you need eight to nine). Count back from their usual wake-up time to determine an ideal bedtime.
Put the Big Rocks in First
In order to illustrate the importance of putting first things first, Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, uses the illustration of putting the big rocks in the jar first so you can fit in smaller stones, sand, and water. Consider reconstructing this object lesson with your children to help them understand the importance of getting their “big rocks” completed first each morning (find an example here).
Kids are easily distracted by screens, books, and toys. By establishing the “big rocks,” parents can minimize the amount of redirection needed in the mornings. Clearly communicate your expectations for chores, family Bible time, and any other morning time musts. My kids know they must put in the big rocks of getting dressed, feeding their pets, and eating breakfast before doing any of the small rock things like reading or playing a game.
Goal Setting for Kids
The beginning of a new school year is an ideal time for students to set goals for the academic year. If you have a returning student, review areas from the previous year that may need improvement such as turning in homework on time. Look ahead at scholastic milestones they are expected to hit such as learning multiplication facts.
Break each goal into smaller action steps like putting homework in the appropriate folder each afternoon and reviewing flashcards three times a week. Set aside a special place in your home to post their goals. Writing and reviewing goals regularly is crucial to reaching goals. Monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments throughout the year.
It’s Never Too Early to Start
Even during the lazy days of summer, your family can begin to follow a bedtime and morning routine to make the start of school a little easier. Ease into an earlier bedtime by backing it up fifteen minutes every few nights. Remind your kids to pick out clothes and prepare supplies the night before. Celebrate when your kids start their days with the big rocks, even on those stay-home days. If they can take a step toward reaching a goal, encourage them to get a head start.
My favorite part of any makeover show is the possibility. The contractors and designers show us anything is possible with a little planning and hard work. The same is true for a morning makeover. We open up possibilities for our children to succeed with a solid start in the morning. A new school year gives us something to look forward to–a big reveal of an impressive morning makeover!