With school back in full swing, there’s a good chance your family has had some stressful mornings in the past few weeks. The good intentions you started off the school year with have begun to fall by the wayside, and getting out the door on time each morning has become a battle.
If you find your family embroiled in yelling matches or reduced to tears on an ever increasing basis each morning, the following six tips are for you. They’ll help reduce the stress that accompanies the chaos of busy mornings and help everyone in your family start the day on the right foot.
1. Do as much as you can the night before
Although sitting down to relax as soon as the kids are in bed is tempting, take 20 minutes to prepare for the next day. Pack lunches. Sign papers. Put out cereal bowls. Pick out clothing. If your kids are old enough, they can help with these tasks before bed.
When you’re tempted to skip this routine, think about how you’ll feel in the morning when all those tasks still loom. You’re sure to have a more peaceful morning (and a better night’s sleep!) if you get them done the night before.
2. Have things ready to go
This ties in closely to Number 1, but can include the things you have to wait until morning for. For instance, once you’ve moved lunches from the fridge to backpacks, place the backpacks beside the door so the kids simply have to grab them on their way out. Have shoes ready and waiting (otherwise someone is sure to lose one!). If there isn’t time to run upstairs to brush teeth, have a second set of toothbrushes near the kitchen sink.
3. Give everyone a little wiggle room
If anyone in your family is not a morning person, be sure to give them a little extra time to wake up. This may mean setting the alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier, but it will be worth it when they don’t start the day in a foul mood from having to immediately jump out of bed and into their clothes.
4. Set morning ground rules
By setting ground rules, you can avoid many unnecessary arguments each morning. Determine what activities are causing the most stress, then set a few simple rules regarding those activities.
Do you allow screen time in the morning? Can the kids get their own breakfast while you’re showering? Do they have to be completely ready to go before they can play or read a book?
5. Get into a routine
If you’ve followed the first four tips, you should soon fall into a routine that keeps the morning as peaceful as possible. You can make it even more so by assigning certain tasks to specific people so that no one person is loaded down with everything. Perhaps Dad makes the coffee while Mom fills the backpacks and the kids feed and walk the dog.
Pretty soon, these tasks will become second nature and you’ll find a routine and rhythm to your mornings that reduces stress and yelling.
6. Leave each other with a loving word
Even with the best laid plans, not every morning will go as expected or desired. Whether you had a wonderful morning and got out the door with minutes to spare or a hectic morning with tears and yelling, choose to part ways with a loving word to each other.
Let your kids know that you love them and, despite any rough patches you’ve gone through already, you’ll be thinking of them and hoping they have a wonderful day. A kindly spoken word can turn even the worst mornings around.