Top 8 Tips for Great Mornings (Even Though You Have Kids)
Are mornings the bane of your existence? Is there nothing but fighting, yelling, rushing and crying (not to mention how the kids act)? Here are the top 8 tips for creating connection and love in your mornings.
Tip #1: Set Your Intention
Generally, there’s a “tone” in mornings that centers around “getting stuff done.” This applies mostly to women/moms, but men and dads are included here sometimes too. Excuse any sexism, but women are generally in charge of getting the kids ready and out of the house, making breakfast, preparing lunches and coordinating the upcoming day.
This focus on “getting stuff done” creates frustration, high expectations, anger and, most damaging, controlling behavior. Yes, there are things that need to happen in the mornings, but I want you to stop and take a minute and think about why you’re doing all this. Why are you so focused on getting all this stuff done? It’s because you want everyone to get where they need to go, with everything they need to get it done. It’s because you love them. The problem is that this loving motivation often gets lost in the mornings.
Instead of focusing on “getting stuff done,” I want you to set an intention of loving service. I want you to consciously tell yourself that you’ll be loving, patient and kind to yourself and your family members in the morning. Yes, there are things to do, but your actions and words will flow from your loving intention instead of a need to get stuff done. You’ll be more self-aware, relaxed and thoughtful instead of on controlling autopilot where your only agenda is checking off what’s on your list. You will still get things done, but the tone, feelings and mood will completely shift.
When you’re in a state of “getting it done,” you’re in a controlling mind frame. When the people around you feel that you’re trying to control them, they react. They act out, act passive aggressively (or just plain aggressively), get defensive, ignore you, or any number of other behaviors you don’t like. If you think about it, when someone is trying to control you, you probably act just like they do.
Have you ever walked down a street and saw someone coming towards you and suddenly became vigilant? Maybe you watched them closely, felt your heart rate speed up or crossed the street to get out of their path? You don’t do this with every person coming towards you on the street, so why this person? It’s because you picked up on an energy they were giving off. You picked up on their intention. People pick up on your intentions too. Your family members and loved ones pick up on your intention, all the time.
Tip #2: Get Things Ready the Night Before
Make time every evening to pull things together for the next day. It’s a simple strategy, and it works. This could be a multitude of things such as:
- Making lunches
- Getting backpacks packed (with homework, books, etc) and near the front door (bonus tip: clean out your child’s backpack every night – you’ll find those permission slips they forgot, wrappers from the candy they shouldn’t have eaten, and a multitude of other sins and interests you should know about anyway).
- Finding shoes in the morning is huge with my kids. Make sure you know where they are the night before.
- Lay out the clothes the kids (or you) will be wearing.
- Soccer practice tomorrow? Get all the gear, cleats and uniform ready to go (because we know that otherwise you’ll be looking in the dirty clothes hamper for 15 minutes in the morning).
- Are you going to workout in the morning? Have everything laid out.
Tip #3: Have One Person “In Charge” of Mornings
If you’re reading this, it might be you. Often, in our efforts to share responsibilities, things get lost in the shuffle and then we end up arguing. If you’re a stay-at-home parent and your partner is going to work, then make it your “job” to be in charge of the mornings and track all the pieces. This doesn’t mean your partner can’t wake the children but if you’re “in charge” then follow up and make sure everyone is actually up and where they need to be. If you both work, pick a person to “drive the family bus” and be in charge.
Tip #4: It’s Good Enough
A big part of #3 is to keep in mind that whatever someone else does is good enough. If your partner, roommate or child is willing to help, let them help and don’t say anything but “thank you.” They might not follow through or get things done the way you would, but they’re not doing it wrong, they’re just doing it differently. Don’t judge or criticize how your partner or someone else does things.
Tip #5: Give Yourself an Extra 15
Wake up about 15 minutes earlier than you normally do (or more if needed) and get yourself completely ready before you start with the kids. The rest of the morning is focused on them and getting them from Point A to Point B (lovingly and patiently), not on running back in to do your makeup or getting your own self together. You’re the adult (sorry, I was upset when I learned this too), so it’s your job to act like one, even in the mornings, and that might mean that you need to get up even earlier.
Tip #6: Wake the Kids Up Earlier
Experiment with waking the kids up a little earlier than usual so you can have a more relaxing morning. 15 minutes of less sleep is better than them sleeping to the very last minute if it makes everything easier and there’s no crazy rushing. There’s lots of research about the detrimental affects of stress on kids and one of the biggest stressors kids report is being rushed by their parents. It’s more stressful for them to be rushed than to get a little less sleep. Now you’ll have time to wake them as gently as possible. You’ll have a minute to sit on the bed and rub your son’s back to wake him up or maybe chat with your daughter as you lovingly rouse her. (This might be in stark contrast to your usual yelling up the stairs to wake them or going in five different times until they’re finally up).
In my house, the kids get up a little earlier and we have “snuggle time” on the couch (my son would die hearing me say that and he, admittedly, doesn’t snuggle as much as lean in, but you get the idea). We sit quietly and chat about how they slept, dreams they had, plans for the day or upcoming week-end, whatever. We sit like this for just five or ten minutes, and then I say that it’s time for me to make breakfast and find out what they want. After they’re done eating breakfast, they get dressed, then they brush teeth and hair and then we’re out the door. I supervise all of this and, as patiently and warmly as possible, keep everyone on task (otherwise, every shiny thing they encountered would add 10 minutes to the morning).
Tip #7: Walk, Don’t Yell
Don’t yell from another room, no matter what. If you need your partner or child to do something, stop what you’re doing and go talk to them, face to face. The yelling from room to room is too jarring for mornings (anytime really, but mornings especially). Again, if you’re running so late that you’re rushed and feel you need to yell, I want you to rethink your morning routine and wake up earlier, do more the night before or get rid of some of what you think needs to get done in the mornings.
Tip #8: Create a Consistent Routine
Create a consistent overall routine for mornings that you do every morning. Routines are your saving grace because you don’t have to make decisions all morning, every morning. The kids will get in the flow and there will be WAY less issues and drama. As they settle into the routine, they’ll stop pushing back since they know what to expect and it never changes.