Guest post by Erin Martin

There will inevitably be a day when Mom is out of town for a while and Dad must take over the morning routine of getting the kids dressed, showered, fed, and off to school. Will he be able to do it, or will the house turn into chaos before the bus finally takes off? If you are fearful of a morning meltdown that can only result in kids taking advantage of a new commander in charge, sit down with Dad and share with him these helpful tips before the morning rolls around:

Get the consensus on lunch the night before. Since Moms are usually the ones who are in charge of packing lunches or doling out the lunch money, Dads can sometimes find themselves a little confused about what their kids typically eat for lunch. Some kids may have a strong preference against buying their lunch when a certain meal is being served. On the other hand, some school lunches are a hit and always “buy” days. Have Dad research the menu the night before and ask the kids if they’d rather have a pack day or a buy day. Then, advise him to write down their answers down for the next morning. This will prevent wasted time from having him pack a lunch that your son or daughter may not have wanted or cause a huge rush in the morning as he throws together a needed lunch.

Decide on the clothes before bed. Before tuck-in time, Dad should work with each child to select the clothes they will wear the next day and put them aside for easy dressing. This is a task that is necessary to appease everyone in the morning. Let the kids pick out what they want, within reason, but say that whatever kids clothes get put on the dresser or set aside in the closet for the next day is the “final answer” and no changes can be made in the morning.

Get up before the kids. This could be a given, but Dad should always wake up before any of the kids get out of bed so that he can shower and get ready without any distractions. The more people who are rushed in the mornings, the more chaotic the morning becomes. Dad should appear composed and ready for the day to inspire the little ones to feel the same. A positive attitude is sticky, and if Dad can muster some optimism, it will rub off on the kids as well.

Stagger wake-up time. It doesn’t make any sense to create competition for the bathroom so early in the morning at a time that is naturally stressful. By waking kids up by the amount of time it usually takes them to get ready, Dad won’t have to deal with arguments about one child taking too long in the bathroom. This will cut back on stress tremendously.

Be a little laissez-faire. Any kids aged four or older can presumably get themselves cleaned up and ready for school in the morning with minimal parental help. You can leave them to their own devices in the morning, for the most part. It all depends on what age your youngsters are, as some kids might need a little more help than others. Hovering over everyone can cause tension, and often it is best to just sit back and relax and let your kids do their thing. However, if kids are notorious for being sluggish, have Dad set a solid time for breakfast. If he tells them that they must be down at the table by a certain time, they will work hard to get there, especially if it is a special meal prepared by Dad.

Give a special treat if everything goes well. If everything goes smoothly in the morning and all kids are dressed and ready to go at an appropriate time, recommend that Dad give everyone a special candy bar or other candy treat to each child as they leave the house. This will further reinforce that their behavior was wonderful and if Dad is ever in charge again, they will work hard to behave the same way in future mornings.

With these tips, Dad should be able to handle the morning routine with ease. All it takes is a little work, careful planning, and some fatherly charm, and the kids will be perfectly fine in his care!

Erin Martin is a blogger for OshKosh B’Gosh, a kids’ clothing retailer. In her free time, she maintains her own blog about kids’ style and life called KidSource.

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