Friday, December 5, 2008

Morning Routine

So the picture has absolutely nothing to do with the post. I was looking for an image (without uploading from my own camera) that would go with getting kids up in the morning. For some reason, my search words pulled this image, and I thought it was hilarious, and fit my exhausted mood. So there you go, the link between the post and the picture! ;)

I was telling a friend yesterday about our morning routine. Now, I must warn you that just a few short weeks ago our morning was NOTHING like this. At that time, we were home schoolers. We slept till 8 or so, mornings were leisure like, and it wasn't really until lunch or after that any real work was accomplished, chores/school or otherwise. The combination of choosing to put our kids into school, learning more about how to help RAD kids, and a need to affectively get everyone ready and in the car by 7:25 without spending my morning yelling and nagging, spurred my husband and I to hammer out a routine that works for us in the morning. I'm proud of how well it's gone, and thought I'd share.

First of all, I did some practice sessions with the kids. I talked, explained, posted some rules and chores, and even had the kids literally walk through the "morning" the way we expected. (Remind me to dedicate a whole post to some of the practice sessions we've had. You're sure to die laughing) Then, we started the first morning with a bang. I think one of the main keys to making this work is that we committed to not ask the kids over and over to get their things done. They don't get them done, breakfast is not served to them. I have had kids come to the table, only to be completely ignored as I spooned every one else's breakfast onto their plate. And yes, even my slightly delayed 3 year old knew what needed to be done and completed it without being told again. She screamed for awhile first, certain we'd break and remind her. And I'll even admit I wasn't sold. I wasn't convinced she understood why I was ignoring her and not putting anything on her plate. It was hard not to tell her again that her bed needed made and her shoes needed to be on her feet. You know what? After only a few minutes of ignoring, she went to her room, finished up, and came to the table with her shoes on. SUCCESS!!!! And then a little anger on my part, because that means the little toot has had me repeating myself senselessly when she really knows what she should be doing. ;) They're so much smarter than we give them credit for.

I wake them at 6:30. You'll be happy to know wake up call comes in the form of beautiful, loud singing on my part, "Rise, and Shine, and Give God the Glory, Glory!" Complete with enthusiastic clapping and ripping of covers to expose pajama'd bodies to the cold. Faith, just this morning, said with hands over her ears, "Really? I mean, really... must you? Must you do this EV.ERY. MOR. NING.?" In fact, Blessing is the only one that seems happy to see me and joins in song. I picked the right name for that one, huh?

I serve breakfast at 7. But only to children who are at the table, fully dressed with shoes on, whose beds have been made and rooms are clean. They also must have already brushed the hair and teeth. I realize the teeth thing is slightly out of order, but, I assure you there is NO WAY anyone's teeth would be brushed at all if we waited until after breakfast. Can you imagine? 5 girls gathered around one sink right about the time we should be walking out the door? Besides, nothing can be held over them as incentive if breakfast has already been served. The oldest 2 do have a couple of extra morning chores. They make sure the bathroom is back in shape, including kitty litter and sweeping around her litter box. Often, the kids are actually done before I'm done with breakfast. In that case, they each go to their "Think within yourself" spot, and do a brain gym we call strong sitting till I'm ready. I'll try to remember to explain that one a little later, too, but for now just know they are still, quiet, in one spot practicing some self control while thinking or praying. Blessing, because of the drugs she's been exposed to, has the most trouble with this part, but is getting better all the time, and poor impulse control just runs strong in her veins. I usually have her sit close to Faith, who just reminds her to sit back down every time she gets up, and that's usually enough to keep her on her spot.

Now, sounds great, doesn't it? And most mornings it really does go that well. Don't get some picture perfect idea in your head, though. This morning was one of those that just didn't go right. We still have those. I'm not even sure exactly how it went wrong this morning, but no one was strong sitting. In fact, 2 kids had oranges on the way out the door, 1 will eat at school, and I told the others we'd eat when we returned home. Blessing left with NO shoes on her feet, Charity was crying because she couldn't find her jacket, I was still in house shoes, and Hope was desperately trying to find a book she was suppose to return today. So, every morning is not that smooth... But most have been, and I'm proud of how every one is doing. Charity even helped Blessing put on her socks yesterday morning. For those of you who can't appreciate that, you should know that Charity has shown very little interest in helping anyone but herself unless she has a 2nd agenda. Blessing is neurologically challenged and socks give her the worst fits! Those seams, the feel on her feet, I'm not sure exactly what goes through her mind... but putting on socks is usually an ordeal and they must be pulled back of and put on again several times and there are often tears and throwing the socks across the room and kicking involved! ;) Which, by the way, is the beauty of the morning routine. I'm not fighting with her anymore. No socks and shoes? No breakfast. No emotion. No pleading. Just ignoring. And eventually, she gets them on herself and appears at her place to be served! And I congratulate, tell her how nice it is to see her this morning, and all is well! How 'bout them apples?


The Brown's said...

Can I have some of your apples? I let my emotions kick in when it comes to discipline. Still working on that one.

Lisa said...

I LOVE your routine. This is the same as our's except that J is being homeschooled so at least we don't have to leave the house. Strong sitting has been a lifesaver around here and has really helped J with her concentration.

With Blessings sock issue has the school tried the brushing technique with her? The OT (when J was in public school) did the brushing on J every hour and I would do it home too. Now we don't have trouble with tags, seams, etc. There were a lot of meltdowns due to itchy clothes before.

hsmomma5 said...

If you woke me up like that, I'd have to hit 'ya.... :)

Annie said...

We're trying out the "whisper hour" imposed directly after my blood pressure hits 200/150. I only talk and only listen to whispers. No exceptions. Everyone gets calmed back down, myself included - even I need practice in self control.

Maury said...

Will you come to my house and put me on a schedule?? (but please don't wake me up singing...I have to agree with Angie on that one! LOL)

Shelley said...

I agree with K___ A____, my socks gotta be just right too, lol!

40winkzzz said...

(1) I second your first commenter's remarks! I am really working on the don't-nag-just-let-the-consequences-play-out thing-- and have been for years! It would help if my Hubz would "commit" with me, but he's terrible with that.

(2) I didn't know you had put your kids in school. Well, as a HS mom who has put kids in school when they get to a certain age, all I can say is, "You do what you have to do, and congratulations on recognizing your limitations." I hope you will blog a bit about how you came to that decision and how the transition has been -- both for the kids AND for you. I was an emotional wreck the first time I put a kid in school.

(3) I have "sung" my kids awake in the past, too. They protested immensely, to which I would simply reply that I'd stop singing as soon as they got up.

(4) I have been too, um, lazy to look into that whole brain gym thing for my KWAD, but you know what? What you described sounds *really* good and beneficial.