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Managing the morning grumpies

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Read the classics to your kids

With the new school year upon us, we are back to early mornings. In my house, that means back to the morning grumpies. As much as we try to head them off by making sure the kids (and we) get enough sleep, backpacks are ready the night before, and so on, someone is always a little grumpy and too much interaction is just not advised.

 

Hope springs eternal, however, and once again this year, I hoped to find a strategy to start everyone's day off a little better. Aside from everyone in separate rooms until it's time to head out the door, I was at a loss. Then a friend told me about something her mom did when she was young - and off to the library I went, almost immediately.

Library? What does a library have to do with morning grumpies? Everything, if you decide to start reading to your kids at the breakfast table.

Bedtime isn't the only time for literacy

Bedtime is the classic time for reading to kids. It's a great way to wind down at the end of a long day and a key method of promoting literacy in our children. We've been reading classic literature to our children at bedtime for years, and on vacation we've had family reading aloud time in tents and hotel rooms.

When my friend told me about what her mom used to do, I thought, "Of course!" Just as reading in the evening can settle and refocus the kids, so can it in the morning help them start the day off right - along with that healthy breakfast, of course.

At the library, I had the challenge of choosing a book that would appeal - well, mostly anyway - to my kids' pretty big age and development gap. I ended up shooting for the middle of the pack, and so far it's working fine - an overlooked but great children's classic. Yeah, the book is a little young for my oldest and a little old for my youngest, but it seems to be more the fact of me reading and the sound of my voice than anything else. With the reading, there's no time or space for bickering, and it's so much more pleasant than any television show.

Yes, one person has to be alert

The only real downside for all of this is for me - but I am willing to suck it up. I don't like mornings, either, but as long as I have a cup of coffee in me, I can do it. And not having my kids degenerate into sibling bickering is so worth it to me. As a bonus, if I can keep this up, I'll get to reread some favorite books from my childhood while sharing them with my kids.

We're off to a good start here, and I am hopeful. Morning grumpies may not be banished entirely, but at least they'll be dampened by a flourish of beautiful words.

Tell us: How do you manage the morning grumpies? Comment below!

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