Remember those long, lazy, low-stress summer days when you and your children spent endless hours playing outside, going on day trips, taking family walks, and eating big, elaborate meals for dinner?
While winter comes with the wonderful joys of holiday celebrations with friends and family, snow days spent outside and crockpot suppers, there are also some particular challenges. Winter can be a time of increased stress for kids and parents alike.
Winter's shortened, hectic days still include school, homework and extracurriculars for kids. Adults have shopping and to-do lists that seem to run over budget and over time. The holidays often require preparations for travel and visitors. In the midst of all this chaos, we are also expected to get our children fed, dressed, and out the door in the morning!
As one writer described, it can be beneficial to get prepared the night before. For children who have difficulty with planning and organization, it’s helpful to move the pesky “find the mittens” task to the night before. There are often fewer time pressures at night, and children feel less stress.
Try using external cues such as a visual reminder of what needs to be at the door. This could include an image of a snowman with his toque, mitts, boots, backpack, and lunch bag. This playful approach where the child compares themselves to the snowman to check if they’re ready, also takes the pressure off parents to ask the frustration-inducing “are you sure you’ve got everything?!” question.
Help Kids Take Responsibility
Visual reminders and cues remove the adult from the equation and encourage greater independence in children. Children are more inclined to take responsibility for the task at hand, if it’s between them and an inanimate object. For example, when a parent yells “put your coat on” the child associates the parent with the need to wear that bulky, itchy nuisance. When the sound of a chime reminds a child that they are soon leaving the house – as Brili does - the game is prompting them to put on their coat. And children love games almost as much as they enjoy hot chocolate and cookies!
What kind of experiences have you had with your kids' winter routines? Share your strategies for making winter mornings run smoothly below!