What are mornings like at your house? Maybe you’re running late and the kids are cranky. It seems like the more you nag, the slower they move. Do you feel like you’ve put in a full day’s work before you even sit down at your desk?
Imagine how different your life would be if you could stay on schedule and start the day in a happier mood.
Make mornings easier by following this simple checklist.
Steps to Take Yourself:
- Assess sleep needs. If you and the rest of your family are tired each morning, you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Try an earlier bedtime.
- Prepare the night before. Accomplish as much as you can the night before so you’re less rushed in the morning. Pack lunches and confirm that homework assignments are completed. Lay out your children’s clothes and shoes.
- Set priorities. Shorten your to-do list. Focus on the essentials and be flexible about the details. Let your kids style their hair their way as long as it’s clean.
- Stay organized. Create systems that keep things running smoothly. Post a central calendar. Put out bins where your kids can deposit backpacks and bike helmets when they come in the door.
- Budget extra time. Plan for delays. Give yourself 15 more minutes than you need so you’ll arrive at work on time even if you have to look for a missing toy.
- Get up first. Enjoy a few minutes of peace before the rest of the family gets up. Taking care of yourself first will make it easier to deal with anything that comes up.
- Stay calm. Your children will follow the example you set. Take a deep breath and keep smiling.
Steps to Take with Your Children:
- Focus on connecting. Transitions are especially challenging for children. Pay attention to their feelings so you can be encouraging and supportive. Be patient guiding them through tying shoelaces and pouring milk. Hug them and thank them for their efforts.
- Offer choices. Being presented with options is more pleasant than taking orders. Ask your son which shirt he wants to wear. Discuss whether your daughter would rather brush her teeth or comb her hair first.
- Share responsibility. Give each family member a chance to weigh in. Assign tasks based on their age and abilities.
- Create incentives. Show your kids that good behavior pays off. If you manage to leave the house earlier than planned, stop for hot chocolate on the way to school.
- Rehearse your roles. On the other hand, if your system still needs some tweaking, practice your moves at a time when you’re feeling less pressured. Schedule a drill on Saturday afternoon.
- Eat breakfast. A nutritious breakfast gives you energy and helps you to think more clearly. If possible, sit down together to share your meal. If that doesn’t work out, prepare something you can eat in the car, like smoothies or bean burritos.
- Turn off the TV. Minimize distractions. Keep the TV off and check phones or computers only for necessities like urgent emails or the weather report.
- Have fun. While you’re juggling so many different responsibilities, remember to enjoy any hours you spend together as a family. Find something to laugh about or race each other to the car.
Put an end to morning madness. The way your family spends the early hours sets the tone for the rest of the day. Look for ways to simplify your morning routine and let your children know you appreciate their cooperation in getting up and out the door as smoothly as possible.