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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Morning Routine

I love lists. They are full of good intentions and order.

I love my kids too ... but the kids will never be mistaken for being orderly. They are, after all, kids. And second to speaking at ear-drum bursting decibels, they specialize in mess making.

A perfectly organized home isn't realistic, but I am determined to fight for basic cleanliness and functionality. My best weapon is our routine.

Our day can start at any hour, thanks to my husband's work responsibilities, so a strict schedule really doesn't work for us. But a routine is different from a schedule. A routine is a list (ahh, feel the order already?) of things that we do in the same order every day regardless of the time that we start.

The kids each have their own morning routine chart. I make new ones every year and I customize them so that the things that tend fall through the cracks will get caught. For a while we had "turn off your bedroom lights" on the list - pathetic I know, but it saved me from having to remind one particular child that this is mandatory.

Right now the odd-ball assignment on the kids' routines is "pick up hangers." We were somehow getting into the habit of leaving empty hangers strewn all over the bedrooms. Not pretty, so it went on the list. It hasn't solved the problem completely, but I do see progress.

The kids' lists are laminated and have velcro dots so that they can "check" off each task as it is done. Some are static, like "brush your teeth," but other tasks change daily. The "Clean Zone" task is one that works really well for us. When the kids are little I assign which zone they are to focus on in their room every morning. One day it will be cleaning the floor of their closet, and another day they will have to change their sheets.

As the kids get older, they are responsible for telling me what one thing they think they should focus on cleaning in their room each day. (Note: They CAN in fact see what needs to be cleaned. This was an eye opening discovery for me.) I am hoping that eventually this training in seeing what needs to be tidied will pay off in eternally clean rooms ... yeah, I'm dreaming, but it is a nice dream.

Even the 2 year old has her own list. She delights in moving the check marks after she completes each task. Granted, she can't reach her own clothes or squirt her own toothpaste, so she requires help, but she knows exactly what to do every morning.

I love the quote, "Don't expect what you won't inspect."
Oh, so convicting and very true.

So, what am I doing while the kids accomplish their morning routine? I am standing in the hallway folding laundry (A good routine for myself. It keeps it to a manageable heap). I am available to reach high objects, remind dawdlers that they have only x amount of time left, and to ensure that the checked tasks are, in fact, completed. When they are done they stick their chart to my dryer using the magnet I attached to the back.

My goal is to add at least one task to our morning routine every year. At the same time, I also plan to drop something each year too. They do not always need to be reminded to wear underwear. Once it is a habit, it is dropped from the list. Eventually they will be proficient in the obvious, and will be doing that laundry for me, so I will be able to pick up another task to do while supervising them.

When I am diligent at making sure we follow our routine I can feel the change in our home. We are dressed, the upstairs is tidied, and the kids are ready for school.

Not a bad way to start the day.

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