How to maintain family harmony in the mornings, as William says George and Charlotte argue

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Photo of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge taking Prince George and Princess Charlotte to school. Picture credit: Aaron Chown/PA Photos.

The Duke of Cambridge has shared a glimpse into family life at Sandringham, revealing how sometimes, it’s hard to keep the peace in the mornings.

“Most mornings, there’s a massive fight between Charlotte and George as to what song is played,” William said on an audio walking tour for Apple.

“One of the songs the children are loving at the moment is Shakira, Waka Waka. There’s a lot of hip movements going along with a lot of dressing up. Charlotte particularly is running around the kitchen, in her dresses and ballet stuff. She goes completely crazy, with Louis following her around trying to do the same thing.”

William alternates between letting Charlotte and George pick the morning’s soundtrack, to help keep things running smoothly.

“Mornings do tend to be rather fraught, and something of a flashpoint for many families, as we’re all in a rush to get ready and out of the door in time for school and work, and with everything we need,” says Liat Hughes Joshi (liathughesjoshi.co.uk), author of six parenting books, including 5-Minute Parenting Fixes (Summersdale, £9.99).

Particularly if you’re not a morning person, “You might well be feeling a bit groggy and tired at that stage of the day”, Hughes Joshi adds. “Likewise for kids, if they didn’t sleep well – and particularly for teens, many of whom would happily sleep until lunchtime if left to their own devices.”

If you’re looking to cultivate a bit of family harmony in the mornings, these tips might help…

Focus on communication

“Having conversation and open lines of communication is important right from the outset,” says child communication expert Kavin Wadhar from KidCoachApp (kidcoach.app).

“Work together the night before and have a family conversation about how you want the morning to look, how it should sound, and even what everyone wants to eat and drink for breakfast is great for mental preparation.”

Wadhar also recommends checking in with how everyone thinks the mornings are going. Over the dinner table, an informal debrief ‘learn and grow’ session is always useful, asking, ‘how did things go?’ And, ‘how can we all get better tomorrow?’ he says, as “daily micro changes and habits mean both parents and children can improve each and every day, with conversations being at the heart of everything”.

Lead by example

Hughes Joshi says it’s “crucial to set the example yourself by keeping calm and authoritative, rather than shouty – kids absolutely take their cues from us, so if you tend to get stressed and shout every morning, they’re much more likely to be like that with each other”.

Have a solid routine

“If you have a fairly set routine, children will know what to expect and when, and it’ll help keep things organised,” advises Hughes Joshi.

If you are trying to sort out something, like who chooses the music in the morning, Hughes Joshi says “it’s just about setting simple rules for clear turn-taking, and sticking with that”. Don’t fall into the trap of putting these rules in place mid-argument: “Sit down and make expectations clear when adrenalin levels are lower, and everyone is calm and will take the information in,” she says.

Prepare as much as possible

A bit of work in the evenings will help make mornings smoother. Wadhar says: “Getting everything prepped the night before is essential. Create the right environment for children to self-serve themselves, such as them getting uniform ready and breakfast bowls – this promotes much greater independence and frees up time for busy parents.”

Wadhar is a proponent of the ‘call and check’ method, saying: “Someone shouts out that they have got different things before shutting the door, such as keys, wallet, water bottles and bag, and the other person, shouts check – this can be a fun thing to do between parent and child.”

Hughes Joshi adds: “Lists and timetables are your friend – how about a weekly schedule stuck on the fridge of who has what activities each day as a reminder? That way, you’re all less likely to forget that games kit on Wednesdays, or the violin for child number two’s music lesson on Thursdays.”

Apple will stream three special audio airings of the Time To Walk episode featuring William, free of charge, on Apple Music 1, the global radio station on Apple Music, from today (December 6).

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