Ritual #1: Establish a time every night for taking care of business
This ritual may be best performed right before bedtime, but it's helpful regardless of when you do it. After dinner, before dinner, when homework is done, or even right when kids get home from school, take twenty minutes to do the following:
- Pick out clothes.
- Pack lunch.
- Sign any homework, forms, or permission slips that need signing.
- Ask your child about his or her school day, and about what's coming up tomorrow.
- Think about breakfast. It may sound strange, but when you consider that breakfast is the most important (and the most skipped, skimped, or rushed) meal of the day, it's worth taking a couple of steps toward putting breakfast together in advance. Set the table, put dry cereal in bowls under a towel or bread box, make a batch of pancakes for warming in the oven or microwave -- anything you can do at night will save you a few precious minutes in the morning.
- Set alarm clocks. Kids who can tell time will enjoy the independence of having their own alarm clock. And for moms and dads who need all the help they can get rousing kids on dark school mornings, an alarm clock can be a big time saver.
Ritual #2: Create a bathroom checklist
Post a list in the bathroom that lays out the basic guidelines for getting ready. (This is your chance to make it clear that all the teeth should be brushed.) It may not be the loveliest décor in your bathroom, but consider mounting a small dry-erase board on the back of the door or under the light switch where you can write a list tailored to daily to-do list while you brush your own teeth in the morning.
Ritual #3: Eat breakfast
The simplest routines are often the best, and breakfast needn't be a big deal. Pancakes, waffles, and most breakfast meats can be pre-cooked to save time, and cereals and fruits are quick and easy. Try to sit down with your children and get ten or fifteen minutes of face-to-face, unhurried re-fueling¾you'll be amazed at the difference it makes for you and your kids.