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#1 FindingMyWay

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 07:37 PM

I'm looking for ideas to help our mornings get started better. What helps you start your day off well and efficiently? What helps your students get going? I'm open to any ideas to sift through, from chore charts to before-bed routines to reward/consequence systems for encouraging self-starting ... basically anything you want to offer, as long as it's helped you.  :001_smile: 
 

Couple of things we're facing as specific challenges: kids who'd rather build forts than do school  :001_rolleyes: and a hubby who works nights, so he's coming home and going to bed at the same time we're getting up and getting going. 



#2 Rach

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 07:50 PM

Are you up and ready for the day before the kids?

Do they wake on their own or do you have to wake them up?

#3 OrganicJen

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 07:50 PM

What helps my student is going over the next day's assignments the night before pointing out which things he can do on his own without my direct help.
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#4 FindingMyWay

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:00 PM

Are you up and ready for the day before the kids?

Do they wake on their own or do you have to wake them up?

 

I'm up before they are, although not entirely ready due to some of hubby's preferences. They mostly wake themselves up; if they're not up by a set time I get them up. We have a do-able and set start time ... we're just having trouble hitting it. 


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#5 FindingMyWay

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 08:02 PM

What helps my student is going over the next day's assignments the night before pointing out which things he can do on his own without my direct help.

 

Ooh, this might be helpful for my oldest ds. He's usually pretty good about self-starting, but he's been lagging lately. 



#6 OneStepAtATime

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 09:45 PM

1.  Consistent bedtime that actually gives each individual child the sleep they need (different kids are at different stages and have different physiological needs).

2.  A list for each of us of all the academic expectations/chores/things that have to be done outside the house so they know exactly what is coming down the pike.  Once things are checked off they know I won't suddenly pile on more so there is more incentive to check move through our lists and get it done.

3.  All work that could be done independently is attached to their list and laid out ready to go the night before.  That way if someone wants to get up early and get started they can (DD loves doing this).

4.  All school supplies/books/etc. that are going to be needed for the week are kept on a rolling cart.  Each kid has their own section with all of their stuff there.  That includes various types of paper (graph, college rule, blank, etc.) and writing utensils.  Knowing where everything is helps all three of us.

5.  Being really, really consistent with our start time.  I have an alarm on my phone.  Getting into the routine is tough but making that a priority and being consistent eventually helped us to stay consistent.  It just became a thing we do, not a thing to avoid, KWIM?  

6.  Starting the oldest first and getting her through the things she needs me for so she can move through stuff she doesn't need me for while I work with her brother.  I do this because bro does better sleeping in a bit and starting later.  DD does better doing things in the quiet of the morning, before bro is awake.  

7.  Looking over everything the night before so I know what is happening the next day.  

8.  While eating breakfast DD and I watch CNN-10 for some current events news.  Kind of gets our brains in gear.  DS eats his breakfast later so he eats while I read to him.  Current events are somewhat upsetting to him right now so we are not currently watching current events together but I used to just watch a second time.

9.  DD also likes to do the quick stuff first, so she can check off as much as possible quickly.  It helps her feel like she is really getting closer to her free time.  It also keeps her from getting too brain drained before we hit stuff that takes longer.

10. Even though we have checklists, I try hard to start the day with some interesting rabbit trail discussions and just hanging out together.  For instance, DD loves to walk outside and see the sun rise with me (yeah she and I get up pretty early).  I make sure to take that time to really hang out with her.  DS likes to share things he has learned from his latest history or science video so I take time to really listen and discuss.  They both tend to stay focused more and get started on academics with more enthusiasm if I show that their priorities matter, too, if that makes sense.

11.  I never have to wake DD, but if I have to wake DS, I do it by cuddles and lots of smiles and hugs and some laughter.  I may have to firmly insist he get up but I do it from a positive attitude and try to make it funny.  Sometimes I pretend I forgot how to speak English and I speak some sort of weird gibberish.  Sometimes I pretend I am so tired myself that I pass out across the bed snoring VERY loudly.  Etc.  It starts our day with a bit of a laugh and a little bonding time.  (Full disclosure, DS deals with anxiety and depression so anything I can do to keep him feeling good about things is worth the effort but honestly I think it is a nice way to start the day anyway.)


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#7 OrganicJen

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 10:09 PM

Ooh, this might be helpful for my oldest ds. He's usually pretty good about self-starting, but he's been lagging lately. 

 

Sometimes on his own my son will bring a highlighter and highlight each thing on the list that we decide he can do on his own just to make it easier for himself the next morning.  


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#8 Hobbes

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 10:15 PM

Our morning is better when:

I make weekly checklists, with each day's work laid out clearly. Keeps us all on track.

I lay out everything the night before - collect books, set breakfast table, etc.

I am up, showered, and coffeed before kids get up.

I welcome the kids to the morning with snuggles, love, and laughter.

I begin breakfast at the right time.

I begin our morning time while kids eat breakfast. We clear dishes as we go and just roll into the school day (we mostly work at the kitchen table).

It's all pretty much "when I." If I am disciplined about our routine and expect the kids to follow me, it usually goes well. If I get slack, we all get out of rhythm. I don't always like it, but that's the way it is.

Shiftwork is hard. It takes extra discipline from the at-home spouse to maintain routines. I've found it very hard when we've been in a shiftwork season.

Edited by Hobbes, 06 October 2017 - 10:16 PM.

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#9 Another Lynn

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 06:48 AM

We have a set "Morning Time" every day at 9:00 that everyone is required to come to.  I'm keeping it short this year since some have heavier work loads (so maybe 30 minutes).  We go over what's going on for the day (appts, activities, etc.) pray, read the Bible.  Sometimes I add in some other quick things.  Occasionally we will have a week so crazy that I will cancel morning time and the result is never very good.  Even if there's a little snoring doing morning time, it does seem to help everyone get their day started.   :laugh:


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#10 FindingMyWay

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 07:48 AM

It's all pretty much "when I." If I am disciplined about our routine and expect the kids to follow me, it usually goes well. If I get slack, we all get out of rhythm. I don't always like it, but that's the way it is.

Shiftwork is hard. It takes extra discipline from the at-home spouse to maintain routines. I've found it very hard when we've been in a shiftwork season.

 

Well, I think I am a good part of the problem ... feeling stressed and disorganized isn't conducive to smooth mornings! So I don't like it either, but I probably need to hear it. And to the bolded - thank you for that understanding. I'm surprised at how much I appreciate it. 

 

 

We have a set "Morning Time" every day at 9:00 that everyone is required to come to.  I'm keeping it short this year since some have heavier work loads (so maybe 30 minutes).  We go over what's going on for the day (appts, activities, etc.) pray, read the Bible.  Sometimes I add in some other quick things.  Occasionally we will have a week so crazy that I will cancel morning time and the result is never very good.  Even if there's a little snoring doing morning time, it does seem to help everyone get their day started.   :laugh:

 

Hmm ... we have a morning time at 10 (because otherwise that "snack and break" time gets overly long) but I bet I could split up some of what we do and start out this way. Especially the "going over the day" aspect might be helpful. And I like the idea of starting out with prayer; maybe it would help all of our attitudes!  :)


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#11 whitehawk

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 07:57 AM

We have a set morning chore each day. Having each morning's chore on a posted list means we don't have to stop and think about what needs doing. For example, on Thursday, DS does his laundry, starting it before school and usually finishing it during our lunch break. (I do most of the folding, but he's able to do the rest.) Then on Friday, he picks out his clothes for the next week and puts them in the sweater organizer in his closet, so there's never a but-I-don't-have-socks issue about getting dressed.

 

DS is an early riser, so he usually does his assigned independent reading before I'm ready to do school.


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#12 mamamoose

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 08:09 AM

We get out our bibles at 8:15, at the kitchen table (we also have a school table where we do school in the basement), and have tea and do our devotions. Right now the kids are loving this time. I usually sneak in our history reading and am going to read some poems too starting this week. We just started that this year and it's been really delightful.
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#13 mamamoose

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 08:10 AM

If you aren't religious I think the same thing can be achieved with poetry or read aloud or just a family discussion. Perhaps your husband can lead that part of the day before he goes to bed.

#14 FindingMyWay

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 08:38 AM

We get out our bibles at 8:15, at the kitchen table (we also have a school table where we do school in the basement), and have tea and do our devotions. Right now the kids are loving this time. I usually sneak in our history reading and am going to read some poems too starting this week. We just started that this year and it's been really delightful.

 

Oh, tea (or hot cocoa or cappuccino) is a good idea. That's one of my boys' delaying tactics ... they want cocoa when we're supposed to be starting school. Making it a part of the routine is brilliant! 

 

 

If you aren't religious I think the same thing can be achieved with poetry or read aloud or just a family discussion. Perhaps your husband can lead that part of the day before he goes to bed.

 

I love the idea of dh leading devotions (we are Christians) before he goes to bed, but he is usually dead tired. He does usually tell them to do school well and to listen to mom!  :001_smile:


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#15 Catheryn

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 08:59 AM

nm 

 


Edited by lllllll, 16 October 2017 - 07:52 AM.


#16 sweet2ndchance

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 10:23 AM

My older children's father often did graveyard shift when they were young and homeschooled. One thing that really helped me is to remember that one reason we homeschooled from the start was to have a more flexible schedule to facilitate having more family time since their father's job, by definition, had unpredictable shifts (he was military). Once I let go of the idea that school had to be started in the morning and finished by the afternoon and let our lifestyle dictate when school needed to be started, things got done so much easier.

 

Typically, we would all spend time with their father until he went to bed, around 9am usually. Then, our school routine would start with clean up of the living room and any breakfast cleaning up that still needed doing. Actual school work didn't usually start until around 10am or 11am. We would listen to audiobooks, read alouds or composer studies over lunch. I still had littles in the picture so while they were down for naps after lunch, I would work with my oldest kids (upper middle school at the time) on anything that needed that quiet uninterrupted time. Their dad would get up around 3pm to get ready for work and we would take a break to spend some more time with him and get ready for dinner. After he went to work and we finished dinner, we would finish up any remaining school work in the evening, sometimes all the way up until bedtime. Once my kids hit the teenage years, they actually did their best work in the evening lol.

 

Another thing that really helped once my kids were middle school age was to give them a list of what I expected them to have done for the week. I didn't care if they got it done at 7am or 7pm, if they did it all on Monday to have the rest of the week free or if they waited until Friday and tried to cram. The only requirements I had was that it was all done by the time I went to bed on Friday night and it was done to the best of their abilities. If it wasn't done or wasn't done well, they sat with me all weekend to get it done instead of getting to go out and do things with their father or their friends. Even if they got it all done Saturday morning, they were still more or less grounded for that weekend for not having their work done on time or done well for the previous week. It didn't take very long at all for them to realize that one, I was dead serious about them having it done and done well and two, that waiting until Friday night to do it all was not in their best interest.

 

They all went to public high school but even with years of this kind of odd schedule, they did fine transitioning to a more traditional school schedule. It's hard sometimes for us to let go of the idea of what a "normal" school day should look like but once you can break free of what "normal" should look like and work with what you have instead of fighting against it, you will be able to enjoy the freedom that homeschooling allows so much more. Hope this helped.


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#17 Where's Toto?

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 10:43 AM

We are all slow to wake-up around here.  I need alone time to have breakfast and tea before I can do anything well.  When I tried to start earlier, or start with things that I had big involvement with, too often it just didn't happen.

 

What we do now:

 

1.  I use Homeschool Planet so the kids have a check-list of all their work for the day/week

2.  They get up and the first thing they do, while they have their morning chocolate milk, while I have my tea (or stay in bed if insomnia was bad) is do their one hour of reading.  Sometimes I assign books, sometimes they pick their own.   Either way, they know what they are to read without my input.

3.  A lot of what they do they can do independently.  I am there to help if they struggle, but their core math and language arts they can at least get started on their own.

4.  The stuff we do together - History, Science, any struggles, etc. happens after lunch.

 

This works pretty well because even if we are having a rough time, at the very least math and language arts is getting done.


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#18 FindingMyWay

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 11:10 AM

:ohmy: 4am? :scared: Kudos to you for finding what worked for you, but I'd have to be a lot more desperate before I tried that!  :lol:

 

Start school before they have time to wake up good?  ;)  I used to gather them and do group things starting anywhere from 4am to 6am when my kids were the ages your kids are.  And, until they began making their own quick breakfasts, I usually had breakfast ready for them when they woke up - although not at 4am ... that was when they were getting their own breakfasts.

 

I had chore lists that all 5 rotated through every week. But those were mostly done after school was over.  Or as a quick break during school. 

 

I'd think all this would depend a lot on your dh's hours.  What time does he leave and get home?  I would plan all around that.  

 


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#19 nixpix5

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 01:18 PM

I use a trusty old planner and map out our week on Saturday or Sunday. We have an ikea shelf with the square cubes and each child has a cube with their work in it. We keep a consistent schedule so they always know what to do

I start each morning with our work together. Our reading time, rabbit trails, or geography work. This bonding time has been amazing. Then they head off for independent work and I pull each one for lessons throughout the morning.

We have a big dry erase board that I put their work schedule on each morning and they erase as they do it. They love this. We work in the living room on the couch, floor with lap desks, wherever we are most comfortable.

The routine is beneficial for us. They call me out if I am late. One morning my shower went over and I came out to find everyone had started without me. My 8 yo was reading our history book to her brothers. When I looked shocked she gave me a playful smirk and said "you snooze your lose" haha.
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#20 Lotsoflittleducklings

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 09:41 PM

What works best for me:

 

1- Up and ready before everyone. For me that means 5am, but only because I'm a zombie for the first hour of every day.  :zombie:

 

2-Chore charts. Ours incorporate basic tasks as well as school items, so they are essentially a step-by-step guide to life (make bed, change underwear, get dressed, water plants, practice piano, read, eat breakfast, clear plates, math...).  I'm training the kids to do them as soon as they are up.  My oldest has inherited my zombie chromosome, so he needs more prodding, but the rest are now self-starters and can even oversee the toddler completing his.  

 

3-Coffee.  I mean, for me.  :D

 

 

 


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#21 busymama7

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 10:59 PM

I didn't read replies but here is what works for us

My teen boys have an early morning religion class that they drive themselves to and from. I sleep in a bit (till 7) because I just have to. I use Sarah mackensies notebook system for assignments and they get started as soon as they walk in (about 7:10) on independent work.

My middle kids love to take recess/PE breaks on the trampoline so I have banned it first thing in the am to use it as a carrot. They are required to get dressed, brush hair and start school or practicing as soon as they wake. If they haven't they aren't allowed that break. This has worked perfectly.

When I get down I make breakfast (from scratch daily. Required for health and $ reasons both). The kids ages 7,9,11,15 and 17 are working on school as I prep and help toddlers get ready for the day. We eat and then if I am ready we go right into morning time. Sometimes I have some chores to do and they just keep doing independent work until I call them for MT. After MT I ask the middle 3 if they have done their 3 things. If they have they get 10-15 mins outside while I get table time ready or do quick chores.

So for our family, the key has been for the kids to get started without me. I have some health problems that make getting up before them really hard to impossible. This was made possible by doing the assignment books the night before and making it *their* job to get themselves started or they don't get that break. Also having their notebooks spelled out in detail what to do has made this possible and is totally worth the 15 min the night before. The 7 and 9 year olds just have a wipe off checklist and most of their school is done with me at the table but they can do handwriting and practice and start a bit of math. And now they do so they get their break. Waiting until everyone was ready and starting with MT just made it impossible to get everything done. They have to do what the can whole I'm showering and cooking and tending to toddlers needs etc.
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#22 FindingMyWay

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 03:27 PM

Wow, so many good ideas to chew over! I love the idea of a zombie chromosome ... pretty sure I (and several of my boys) have that as well! Drives the "get up and get going" members of our family crazy.  :lol:


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#23 okbud

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 04:28 PM

Yeah some years/lives, it's just totally hard to figure out and it never works 100% for any one person.

 

....But be absolutely SURE to include yourself as a person there!!

 

I can't get started talking to people until I've very slowly and quietly had my coffee. I'm a morning person, actually, but my FRIGGIN KIDS are like pre-dawn people so it really doesn't matter. They get up*so* early. Like 4 in summer, 5 in winter. No matter what time they go to bed. Great, except I'm still getting up most nights with a toddler, plus I use the nights to read and write (absolutely vital to my happiness. Like I'd give up having a CAR or 50% of our groceries before I'd give alone time to read and write).

 

So anyway. Train your kids to leave you alone when you want to be left alone, and train them that school time is school time. No matter what. These are seperate things and they take lots of focused work, ime, but it's sooooo worth it. There are also some thing I don't let my kids do between wake up time and school time: no screens and no lego. Because they get into it, ykwim?

 

I used to have them watch a documentary every morning, but that was before the baby was born.... the point here, is go with the flow. As kids grow, your routine has express permission from the universe to be altered!

 

[funniest eta ever. My computer changed "lives" to "lovers"]


Edited by okbud, 08 October 2017 - 04:28 PM.

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#24 FindingMyWay

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Posted 08 October 2017 - 07:43 PM

Yes, definitely need to work on training them that school time is just for school - well, the youngest two, my eldest does much better with that. On the other hand, they're good about giving me space if I need it ... they're just bound to be making a mess!  :001_rolleyes:

 

Yeah some years/lives, it's just totally hard to figure out and it never works 100% for any one person.

 

....But be absolutely SURE to include yourself as a person there!!

 

I can't get started talking to people until I've very slowly and quietly had my coffee. I'm a morning person, actually, but my FRIGGIN KIDS are like pre-dawn people so it really doesn't matter. They get up*so* early. Like 4 in summer, 5 in winter. No matter what time they go to bed. Great, except I'm still getting up most nights with a toddler, plus I use the nights to read and write (absolutely vital to my happiness. Like I'd give up having a CAR or 50% of our groceries before I'd give alone time to read and write).

 

So anyway. Train your kids to leave you alone when you want to be left alone, and train them that school time is school time. No matter what. These are seperate things and they take lots of focused work, ime, but it's sooooo worth it. There are also some thing I don't let my kids do between wake up time and school time: no screens and no lego. Because they get into it, ykwim?

 

I used to have them watch a documentary every morning, but that was before the baby was born.... the point here, is go with the flow. As kids grow, your routine has express permission from the universe to be altered!

 

[funniest eta ever. My computer changed "lives" to "lovers"]

 



#25 Ellie

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 01:14 PM

Oh, tea (or hot cocoa or cappuccino) is a good idea. That's one of my boys' delaying tactics ... they want cocoa when we're supposed to be starting school. Making it a part of the routine is brilliant! 

 

 

Oh, no, they don't get to do that. You fix them with your steely schoolteacher eyeball stare and say, "Dear child, you could have had cocoa with breakfast, but that was an hour ago. We're ready to do school now."

 

It's possible to have a morning routine without being strict about it. When my dc were young and at home, we all bathed at night; in the morning we all pretty much got up at the same time; I dressed and made my bed before coming out into the world to fix breakfast, while dc could get dressed after breakfast. We were ready for the day about an hour after we got up.

 

I'm sure y'all could find a schedule that works with Mr. FindingMyWay's schedule, but you will need to be the one to implement it. And you should do that without fear. Someone needs to be the foreman, as it were, and you are the most logical one to do it. :-)


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#26 Milknhoney

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 04:23 PM

For us the most important thing is that school has to be first in our day. If any playing happens, then trying to get everybody (that includes me) to drop it and focus on school is very, very difficult. SO, they get up and get dressed and then come to the kitchen for breakfast. I shoot for around 7:20-7:30am. Usually I have already eaten, so while they eat, I start our Bible study at the breakfast table. After that we move into the living room for our hymn. Then on to their lists of assignments for the day from there. I have to go to work at noon, so that does help me make sure I start on time and stay on task. We don't have the luxury of stretching things out all day. 



#27 FindingMyWay

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 05:37 PM

*This* is a good part of the problem. There is a gap between when everyone is ready for the day and when dh goes to bed, but for several reasons, we don't start school until he is in bed. That's a non-negotiable point in our day.  :) So I need to address that gap ... this clarified that part of the problem, so thank you!

 

For us the most important thing is that school has to be first in our day. If any playing happens, then trying to get everybody (that includes me) to drop it and focus on school is very, very difficult. 

 



#28 mamamoose

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 09:19 PM

Oh, tea (or hot cocoa or cappuccino) is a good idea. That's one of my boys' delaying tactics ... they want cocoa when we're supposed to be starting school. Making it a part of the routine is brilliant!



I love the idea of dh leading devotions (we are Christians) before he goes to bed, but he is usually dead tired. He does usually tell them to do school well and to listen to mom! :001_smile:


I don't get much out of my husband during the week either. He works regular shift but usually works 5 10-12 hour days so it's just hugs and kisses and cuddles from him in the evening.
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#29 Another Lynn

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 05:32 AM

*This* is a good part of the problem. There is a gap between when everyone is ready for the day and when dh goes to bed, but for several reasons, we don't start school until he is in bed. That's a non-negotiable point in our day.  :) So I need to address that gap ... this clarified that part of the problem, so thank you!

 

It has been so long since my dh worked nights, I have forgotten how we worked it out in the mornings, but I can see where that would be the big issue in how to start the day!  Do they spend time with him before he goes to bed?  (I'm sure he's exhausted!)  



#30 Hobbes

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:17 PM

Well, I think I am a good part of the problem ... feeling stressed and disorganized isn't conducive to smooth mornings! So I don't like it either, but I probably need to hear it. And to the bolded - thank you for that understanding. I'm surprised at how much I appreciate it.


Glad if it's encouraging. It helps me so much to stick with something if I (and also the people around me!) can acknowledge that it is hard. It helps me to prepare mentally and otherwise.

If getting started is hard, can you pick a routine to get you all going? Like a phone alarm song that plays at the time that your DH heads up to bed? That could be your signal to gather, if not for your whole morning time, then just for a hymn and prayer or something before you move into everything else. Routines help me so much - it's non-negotiable and you end up with less push back from kids.

Shift work threw off my routines so much and it took me a bit to realise that I had to create my own routines if I wanted to stay sane. But I needed different signals for some things.
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#31 FindingMyWay

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 01:55 PM

Yes, everyone spends time with him before he heads off to bed. It's just breakfast (for everyone) and a bit of unwinding (for dh) so it's pretty casual and just family, every-day kind of time, but we all treasure it.  :)

 

It has been so long since my dh worked nights, I have forgotten how we worked it out in the mornings, but I can see where that would be the big issue in how to start the day!  Do they spend time with him before he goes to bed?  (I'm sure he's exhausted!)  

 



#32 FindingMyWay

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 02:01 PM

Yes, we need a routine, definitely. I think part of our problem this year is things have changed (schoolwork and expectation-wise) and our routine that worked last year has not adapted. I need to work out what needs to change and implement it. I appreciate so much you all helping me work through this!

 

 

Glad if it's encouraging. It helps me so much to stick with something if I (and also the people around me!) can acknowledge that it is hard. It helps me to prepare mentally and otherwise.

If getting started is hard, can you pick a routine to get you all going? Like a phone alarm song that plays at the time that your DH heads up to bed? That could be your signal to gather, if not for your whole morning time, then just for a hymn and prayer or something before you move into everything else. Routines help me so much - it's non-negotiable and you end up with less push back from kids.

Shift work threw off my routines so much and it took me a bit to realise that I had to create my own routines if I wanted to stay sane. But I needed different signals for some things.

 


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