Got Teenagers? Tips for an Easier Morning Routine

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When the Foodie children were younger, our mornings were easy enough to navigate—or, as easy as mornings ever are. For several years, both kids went to the same day care center; then to the same elementary school. They got up at the same time, got dressed at the same time, ate at the same time. We rushed to get out the door some mornings, but we were, at least, rushing on the same schedule.

And then, The Girl went to middle school.

When The Girl started sixth grade, her school day started almost an hour later than her brother’s. Suddenly, it made no sense for both kids to get up at the same time—especially since The Girl had started to guard her sleeping time in the way teenagers often do, resisting the call to get out of bed and start preparing for the day, sometimes four or five times. It was clear our schedule had to adapt to the changing dynamics of our family.

Cherry Almond Bread

Cherry Almond Bread is a hit with the Foodie Children


One thing I knew for sure: I didn’t want our mornings to resemble those I remembered from my own teenage years. I grew up with a father who had retired from military service, in a family where flexibility was rare and being on time was valued above all things. Loosely translated, this meant “ten minutes early.” I was always the first kid at the bus stop, waiting in the cold for everyone else to show up, often on the verge of frustrated tears. From the moment I was out of bed, I was rushing—even when I was on schedule. If I was ready to leave the house ten minutes before I actually needed to, my mother called that morning a success.

How to avoid that kind of manic morning pace in the Foodie household? The trick, I thought, was to figure out a way to respect each of our schedules and preferred ways of getting through the morning, while getting everybody where they need to be on time. No small job, to be sure. But I realized I had to learn to think of our mornings as four separate routines working together for the benefit of each family member—not as a single, well-oiled machine.

After many years of trial and error, here’s our current routine:

I’m a clock-watcher. (What can I say? My mother won.) I get up when the alarm goes off at 6:20. I feed the cats and make the coffee. I check Facebook and watch the morning news while the coffee brews. I drink a cup before I head off to wake the Foodie children, at precisely 6:55. Then I get dressed and put on make-up, eat breakfast, pack my lunch, brush my teeth. I touch base with the Foodie children, to double-check their schedules and find out who needs a ride home from school. I’m out the door and on my way to work by 7:40.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Breakfast is a morning routine requirement


At the opposite end of the spectrum, The Girl will stay in bed as long as possible—long after her alarm goes off and even, yes, after I’ve come in to wake her at 6:55. Trying to prevent this by cajoling, threatening, tempting or bribing simply serves no purpose. It used to drive me crazy that The Girl would roll out of bed twenty minutes before we needed to leave the house, but now I concentrate on the fact that she has never once been late for school (or work). She’s never made anyone wait for her, either. She gets excellent grades, excellent enough to earn a full academic scholarship at her first-choice college, and she’s been promoted to a management position at her weekend job. These are the really important things about her. If it bothers me that she looks like she’s just rolled out of bed when she leaves the house (because, face it, she has), that is


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