No matter how much we love our kids, being a family is a lot of work. To help, I’m always looking for ways to make our routines run a little smoother. Here are four simple practices that have worked for us.
Play transition music. For me, the hardest part of going anywhere with kids is getting out the door. Two-minute warnings, setting timers, countdowns — they’re not always enough. So I took a trick from my kids’ teachers: I play different music to indicate different tasks. Now I turn on our “We’re leaving” song whenever we need to get out the door. I don’t even have to say anything, and it works!
Fix your “sticky” spot. Figure out which part of your family’s day is most difficult and then brainstorm solutions with your kids. One of my children struggled to get dressed for school. No matter how early he got up, he dawdled putting on his clothes. When we asked him how he could fix the problem, he suggested sleeping in his clothes. It’s not the solution that I would have picked, but hey, it works!
Go slow to go fast. With kids, everything typically takes longer than it should. But instead of rushing, try to build buffers of extra time into your routines. Rushing causes stress and makes everyone feel flustered.
Breathe, breathe, breathe. Often when we ask kids to breathe to relieve stress, they take short, shallow breaths. So, instead, we need to explain calming breathing techniques in more descriptive terms. Say “Blow out the candles on your birthday cake three times” or “Blow like you’re cooling down your soup.” Even better: Practice this before things spin out of control. If you try to implement these techniques mid-tantrum, you’re less likely to get positive results.