Some parents, I'm realising, are good at mornings. I'm not one of them, but I'd like to be, and I sort of have to be, especially as my kid heads off to kindergarten where there are school bells and real tardy slips.
What these mums and dads have in common aren't some superpowers from the AM gods, but clear strategies that work for their families. Here's an example from the new book How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life and Loving (Almost) Every Minute byKJ Dell'Antonia:
"We literally have a soundtrack," says Whit Honea, a father of two in Los Angeles. "It plays from rise to door and all their cues are marked accordingly."
Yep, the man has created a playlist timed to his kids' morning tasks. It sounds intense, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if the idea could work in my home. We love music and often use upbeat songs to tidy up quickly. The key here would be choosing the right tracks. You'd want them to be cheerful but not manic, fun but not distracting.
Here's a potential playlist that I just came up with. Maybe these songs are a bit too on the nose, but I think that's what you need when it's early and you haven't yet chugged your first cup of coffee. Play around with your own list.
Wake up and stretch: "Beautiful Day" by U2.
Wash faces and brush teeth: "Car Wash" by Christina Aguilera, featuring Missy Elliott.
Eat breakfast: "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson.
Get dressed: "Get Ready" by The Temptations.
Gather up your stuff and head out the door: "Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root.
I'll have to do some testing to make sure the timing's right. There will probably be some trial and error, but it's worth the effort if it will make mornings run more smoothly. Once you've settled on the perfect AM soundtrack, guide your kids through it for the first week or so.
After that, the idea is that their brains will be programmed to let the songs take them through their tasks. Trust me — they'll be happier waking up to Bono crooning "The heart is a bloom ..." than to Dad yelling "WHAT! You're still not out of bed?!"