One morning before church, in a flash of inspiration, I told the kids, “Okay- whoever is completely ready to go- hair done, shoes on, jackets, scriptures- the whole deal- and sitting on the couch at 8:30am will get a treat.” Lo and behold, all 4 of my children (the older ones encouraged and helped the younger ones) were sitting, all ready to go, on the couch at 8:30am. I gave them each 3 mini marshmallows.
It worked so well that I continued it the next week, and eventually adopted it into our daily morning routine for school days. For daily use, I utilize a sticker chart rather than a treat, and each child must be sitting at the kitchen table totally ready to go, just finishing their breakfast. At the end of the week, anyone who has 5 stickers gets to join me for a special fun activity, like making cookies (complete with bowl-licking privileges), doing a craft, or playing a game and eating popcorn.
Doing this has helped to significantly calm our mornings, and while not every child always makes it, it gives them a time to aim for, and it gives us a cushion to do things like find lost shoes, fix messy hair, or anything else that might ordinarily slow us down. On weekday mornings I use the extra table time to do our morning devotional (a song, prayer, reading, and brief discussion) and to fix the girls’ hair while they’re finishing their breakfasts.
On Sunday mornings, church starts at 9am and it takes 10 minutes to get to church so our Target Time is 8:30am. That extra 20 minutes gives us plenty of time to get everyone in the car and tie up any loose ends at home. If none of that is needed, then we get to church early! Woohoo!
On weekday mornings, the bus arrives at 7:56, and it only takes about 2 minutes to walk up to the bus stop, so our Target Time is 7:40. That gives us just under 15 minutes for our morning devotional and hairstyling, and of course any loose ends.
This is also a great way to teach kids time management and to have them monitor themselves rather than have MOM ushering them around!