Tips for busy parents to keep their mornings running smoothly
I don’t know about you, but I used to feel like no matter how much planning went into my weekend to prepare for the upcoming week my Monday mornings were always still a bottle of stress. I asked myself “Why are my mornings so stressful?”
What it really comes down to is this, mornings are a short period of time to get a lot accomplished and depending on the personalities in your home it can make all the difference on how your mornings play out.
For example, I am fast paced in the morning, and my middle daughter moves quite slowly. I am a morning person who whistles and sings “Good morning” to any souls who walk my way. Now, this does not mix well with two out of my three children.
I think it’s important to take into consideration how you and your children operate before tackling your morning routine. Mornings can become the perfect opportunity for children to assert their individuality and with the clock ticking, this is the prime time for power struggles.
Here are some tips for what I would like to call “Cool, Calm, Collective Mornings”
- Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep. I firmly believe a well rested child is a child ready to take on the day! Tuck those kiddos in on time. Every child is different, I learned early on that my middle child need a little more sleep than the average child so I adjusted her bedtime to make sure she was well rested before that 6:30 am alarm went off!
- Prepare the night before. Remember when I said there is a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time? Let’s minimize the amount of responsibilities everyone has in the mornings. Here a few quick tips to tackle the night before:
- Prepare breakfast – Yes you can! Try these breakfast tips
- Pack lunches
- Choose clothes
- Assign a place for “all things headed out the door the next day”
- Get up before your children. Waking up about 15-30 minutes before you children will help you establish their routine. I like to be showered, dressed and well caffeinated before I even wake up my children. I found having my own routine before establishing theirs help set me up for success.
- Make a “My Mornings” chart. My children each had their own routine chart and this helped them stay on track without me having to run to each of my three children and ask “Did you do this, now do this?” It doesn’t mean I don’t have to check in on them, because I do, but the chart was a nice little mommy assistant to move my littles on. I suggest a picture chart for 5 and under. Ages 3-5 could have their task written next to the picture. Some ideas for the morning chart could be the following:
- Brush your teeth
- Brush your hair
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Put on shoes
- Grab your back pack and lunch
- Hug mom/dad good bye
Incorporate “First, Then” into your routine- also known as “When, Then”: After successfully completing Positive Behavior training, I learned the importance of modeling routine in my language. My children love to have about 10-15 minutes of TV time before leaving in the morning. So I would always remind them where they were at in their chart and say “ First, brush your teeth, Then brush your hair” It was almost ALWAYS followed up by “When your routine is finished, then you may watch TV”. This has worked wonders in our home and in our routine. I make sure my kids know, it doesn’t matter to me if they watch TV or not, but if they want to they must FIRST do their routine and THEN have their free time. They get so sick of hearing me say First, Then, that they no longer nag to do things until they have first completed their tasks. Stick with it my friends, First/Then works!
- Stay Cool, Calm, and Collected: My children can sense when I am feeling overwhelmed and frantic. When I follow my morning routine, I rarely feel this way. But sometimes there are hiccups in the morning that no routine can solve (you know the stepping dog poop on the way to the car, a surprise nose bleed or stomach virus beginning as you walk out the door! You know we’ve all been there!) But when you are feeling frazzled, get down to their level, explain to them why you need help and give them a chance to help you solve your morning challenges. Your children will mirror your actions. If you are huffing and puffing about your issues, sooner or later they will have the same kind of morning stressing over all the small things. Keep your calm voice and coffee in hand.
- Work Together: Talk about how everyone can be a team. I have given each of my children their own “Family task” in the morning. My oldest daughter feeds the dog, my middle daughter is the light fairy (makes sure all lights are off) when we leave the house and my son is the bag checker; he makes sure everyone has their things when we are pulling out of the drive way. This makes everyone feel important and also helps me with my morning!
Trying to establish a morning routine for kids that actually works may seem in the beginning like a lot of effort, but the ease with which (most of) our mornings flow these days has made the effort well worth it.
Instead of being the most stressful time of the day, our mornings are now a whole lot calmer and set the pace for a beautiful day ahead. What more could this happy momma ask for?