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Tips and resources for healthy family routines -- for your mornings, during your daily schedule, and on to bedtime.

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WebMD Expert Discussion: Starting the Day Off Right

If you and your kids tumble out the door every morning in a flurry of lunch boxes, homework, and frustration, WebMD guest parenting expert, Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP, has a few helpful tips to bring a little calm and order to your mornings. In WebMD's online discussion about Healthy Family Routines, Altmann advises parents to:

  1. Be prepared. Make lunches, check homework, and lay out clothes the night before.
  2. Get up before your kids. That way, you have time to get dressed and prepare yourself for the day before your little ones crawl out of bed.
  3. Maintain the "get dressed first" rule. Everyone -- except for toddlers, who may still be a little messy at mealtime -- gets dressed before eating breakfast, watching TV, or playing.
  4. Reinforce your kids' efforts. As readiness rewards, give your kids gold star or smiley face stickers. Shower them with enthusiastic praise for a job well-done and for being on time. Use playtime or a favorite morning show as encouragement.

After a few weeks, the planning, preparation, and routine will become second nature. And your mornings should be much smoother sailing!

What has worked for your household? What do you do in the morning -- or the night before -- to get everyone off to a good start each day?

Discussion led by Tanya Altmann, MD Guest Expert
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Guest Expert What is a guest expert?

Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP, is a best-selling author, a working mother, and a UCLA-trained pediatrician, practicing in Southern California.

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Healthy Family Poll

Which of these family routines is the most challenging?

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