altAnd they’re off! This is how I feel every weekday after herding four children and a husband through morning routines. It’s been the same schedule every weekday morning for years. You would think we’d have it perfected by now. We haven’t.

Since we are such clever parents, we have tried out many different strategies for getting our family out the door on time. We have created breakfast menus where everyone had to select their “order” the night before. We have a routine for laying out clothes and organizing school bags before bedtime. If it has been suggested to us, we’ve tried it. Some things have worked well for our family and some have not.

Recently, my husband (the morning school chauffeur) has implemented some competition in our morning routine. Each one of our kids thinks the front seat of the vehicle is a throne that exudes a higher status than any other seat in the car or truck. They all want to sit in the front seat and now he’s making them work for it. The “friendly” competition is not friendly at all at times.

Basically, if you are one of our children and can get ready earlier, eat breakfast and be out the door first, you win that morning’s ride to school in the front seat. The race to the front seat has been close several mornings in a row. The last one out the door is the same kid every single day. Said child is not motivated and puffs up pouting in the back seat every morning.

There is one child who consistently greets the day early and wins the spot. The other three siblings had become bitter losers at some point. One night, they decided to band together against the gloating winner. The other three children snuck back into her room and turned off her alarm clock. The next morning, she was completely dismayed because the other kids had all beaten her downstairs for breakfast. They were howling with laughter at the mad look on her face. She was then puffed up and pouting in the backseat. She learned not to gloat about winning after that experience.

Last weekend, we took the kids with us on a trip to Oaklawn race track in Hot Springs, Ark. They loved watching the horses get saddled up and raced. They were fascinated by the tiny jockeys who rode these beautiful race horses. They looked through the race book over and over trying to figure out which one would be the big winner. They applied strategies for picking winners – such as the jockey’s silks colors, the most interesting horse name and even a favorite number.

One of our children stood out among the other four at being able to pick winners. She probably got into the excitement and competition more than the others. It was fun to watch them all experience something new and enjoy the competition.

Whether racing horses or racing to the front seat of the car in the morning, the one’s with ambition, drive and determination typically come out in the winner’s circle, neighbor.

Jody HarrisEditorial / Opinionsdaily race,Jody Harris,routineAnd they’re off! This is how I feel every weekday after herding four children and a husband through morning routines. It’s been the same schedule every weekday morning for years. You would think we’d have it perfected by now. We haven’t. Since we are such clever parents, we have tried...The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma