So what is a typical morning like at my house? (Or is there a typical morning?)
- 5:15 – Got up and dressed, noticed the dishwasher didn’t look clean so wrote a note to husband
- 5:30 – Left for the Y
- 5:45-6:30 – Worked out, then drove home
- 6:45 – Quick e-mail check, said good morning to husband and made myself a Carnation Instant breakfast, noticed reply from my husband that he HAD run the dishwasher, read the funnies while I drank my breakfast
- 7:00 – Started last night’s laundry tumbling in the dryer, took a shower
- 7:15 – Got dressed and stripped bed
- 7:30 – Started unloading clean dishwasher
- 7:33 – Daughters both came down for breakfast, continued to work at unloading the dishwasher, started making coffee
- 7:45 – Dressed 2 year old, ran downstairs to the computer to check message boards
- 8:00 – Hear lots of screaming from daughters’ room. Younger son is up and bothering them.
- 8:02 – Fix younger son’s breakfast while drinking coffee that I had to reheat.
I’m not going to continue this excruciating play-by-play of my morning. I will add that I finally got my older son up at 8:45 and got school started at 9:30 this morning! Not a very good start to our day.
I have made wonderful plans for our mornings. Some parts of me prefer to have a very structured routine. However, I also want to be more relaxed. I have these two sides at war within me and I’m not sure which one knows best. I can look back to a time when we consistently had everyone up, dressed, fed, with morning chores done and ready to begin school at 8:30. But, it was exhausting to me to rush everybody and nag everybody first thing in the morning. (Not that nagging is good any time of the day!)
However, I think I might have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater in my effort to relax. As I have a tendency to do, I’ve made our morning routine a sort of all or nothing proposition.
So what are some benefits of having a routine?
- Everyone knows what to expect
- Efficient use of time
- Get more accomplished
What are some perceived disadvantages of a routine?
- Too rigid
- Requires nagging to maintain
- No time to relax
Notice that I said "perceived" disadvantages. I did find these were issues when I was following my morning routine, but in reality I didn’t have a routine. I had a strict schedule. A routine is different from a schedule in that exact times are replaced with an order of events. For example, when you get up, first make up your bed, then get dressed, then come to the kitchen for breakfast, is a routine that can be followed no matter what time you get up. If specific times are added, it then becomes a schedule.
What do I want to accomplish every morning (for me and the children)?
- Everyone dressed, fed, with beds made
- Morning chores
- Piano practice
- Everyone’s seat work completed before lunch
- Morning devotions and prayer time (both alone and with the kids)
I would like to start our school day with prayer together. Unfortunately, what has happened is that my daughter and younger son end up waiting around for my older son to finish breakfast and his chores before they can get started with anything. I would prefer to use that morning time for them to get some schoolwork done, but if devotions have to be FIRST, then everyone either has to wait, or I have to make my older son get ready sooner (which gets us back to the fighting and nagging first thing in the morning.)
What am I planning to change?
Instead of focusing on having devotions FIRST, I am planning to schedule a time for devotions. Everyone can work their morning routines around devotion time. I also am going to make sure that my older son begins to set an alarm clock so that he is up by 8. When I have to stop what I’m doing to go wake him up it tends to put us both in a bad mood. He also is old enough to be responsible for getting himself up. Finally, and perhaps most important, I need to set aside time for a short devotion for myself before the kids get up. I don’t mean a full Bible study, but time in the morning to allow the Lord to direct my thoughts. (It’s that all or nothing mentality again!)
I have found that writing about my morning routine has helped me to recognize the problems we’ve been having in our home. I hope that my thought process can be helpful to others as they evaluate their morning routines.