After doing some reading, both books and blogs, I have been paying a lot of attention to the daily rhythm in our home. Having the opportunity to stay home, I have found an appreciation for the natural rhythm that has developed over time- quiet times, active times, creative play times, outside time. Different than a "schedule" a rhythm is a natural flow hour to hour, day to day, season to season. This blog provides some great insight regarding rhythms. The one part of our day that seemed to not really flow, to not really have a direction, was morning. Up until lately, mornings were never very much the same. Sometimes my daughters would want to eat right away, sometimes they would ask for tv, sometimes they just wanted to play first. It felt there wasn't a direction or flow to this time of day. After a little planning and a little daily preparation I have found that changing a few things has really helped us find a bit of consistency and flow to our early mornings.
The first thing I started was laying out my daughters' clothes the night before. They sometimes help pick out their outfits and we set them near their bedroom door so in the morning the first thing they naturally want to do (seeing their clothes all ready) is to get dressed.
In the evening before bed, I set the table for breakfast. Sometimes my daughters will also help set it too. When they walk into the room in the morning they notice the table set in an inviting way and naturally take an interest in breakfast instead of the t.v. This little act has really made a big impact. Taking the few minutes before bed to set it up helps our mornings flow smoothly.
The other preparation I make the night before is to set out the breakfast cereals on a small table. I also try to provide a fruit and bread for toast or a picture (cut from the waffle box if waffles are an options that morning) of waffles. This has also really worked well and they are immediately interested in breakfast when they see everything available. Lastly, I set out two wash tubs for washing their bowls or plates and silverware after breakfast (I set this out while they eat.) I don't require they wash them but encourage it and most of the time they do. They also put their napkins and place mats in a small hamper that we wash on Fridays.
By just changing a few things I feel so much better about our mornings. We all seem to know what to expect, and the children are happy with it. What I have found from doing this is that preparations are like invitations to children. Instead of me saying "I need you to get dressed" they see the clothes ready and waiting for them and naturally want to get dressed. It also provides a sense of direction but direction that comes internally and naturally from the child not the adult.