Getting out the door in the morning is sometimes a trial. Parents struggle to get kids out of bed and ready for the day with their uniforms on and teeth brushed, while at the same time trying to get themselves ready for their work day. There are always lost library books, misplaced bus passes and forgotten lunches – for both parents and kids.
If you find that your mornings are starting with cajoling and shouting, frustration and sometimes even tears, you’re not alone. Many, many parents report the same feelings. So, we’ve put together our top 10 tips on how to have a happier morning routine, and still get out the door on time.
1. Start your morning the night before.
The best defence is a good offence. Getting things sorted the night before means less to do in the morning to get out the door on time. That might mean that screens and other activities need to stop a little bit earlier so that you and the children have the time to organise for the next day. But being prepared as much as possible is the first secret to having a happier morning.
For children, preparation might include checking that uniforms are ready for the morning, packing school bags, making lunches, checking the family calendar and finding the extra items that are needed, such as library books, homework or sports gear.
For yourself, it’s always helpful to check your daily schedule for the next day so you know what you have on and when. If you need printing or documents for meetings, get them organised and packed away the night before. Ensure your devices are charged and any food that you’ll need is made and packed as well.
2. Organise your home.
Part of your great offence is ensuring that things are physically organised in your home. This means buying boxes for school work and hooks for backpacks, hats and keys. Keeping everything organised and in one place saves you precious time getting ready, and helps your kids to do more for themselves each morning.
3. Set good sleep routines.
Kids need eight solid hours of sleep each night. This means regular bed times, and regular wake-up times, with no catching up on the weekends. This is essential for a good morning because if a child is sleep-deprived, everything is harder. The same goes for grownups as well. Though we might need a little less sleep than our kids, we still need enough to feel good and to be able to tap into much needed wells of patience each morning.
4. Create a morning checklist.
Create a simple checklist for the kids to follow. If it’s helpful, laminate it and give them a dry erase marker to check off the items as they finish them. This means you can save your energy for the sure-to-crop-up emergencies, rather than having to constantly tell your kids what to do every morning.
5. Get up a little bit early.
Getting up 10 or 15 minutes early each day will give you that extra breathing room and eliminate stress. Waking your kids a bit early helps for the same reason. Everyone can move just a little bit slower, and it allows time for the inevitable last minute rush to find missing shoes or hats.
6. Try to help, not do.
As much as you can, let your kids get themselves ready. Of course, you’ll need to be there to help out with some things (particularly with younger kids), and you’ll definitely need to continue to gently remind them about the time, but to the extent possible let them manage their own organisation. This not only gives them a sense of autonomy, great for wellbeing, but also gives you time to get ready for your own day.
7. No screen time.
It makes sense to keep the screens off in the mornings when you’re trying to get out the door. They will distract even the most organised child (and adult). Diving straight into text messages, social media or emails means you’re immediately affected by the wants and needs of other people. You lose focus and the opportunity to set a calm, positive tone for the day.
8. Eat a real breakfast.
When you eat a healthy breakfast, you’re setting yourself up for a more productive day. When your children eat a healthy breakfast, they are as well. A healthy breakfast gives you energy, improves your short-term memory and helps you to concentrate more intensely and for longer periods.
9. Don’t multitask.
Multitasking in the morning – when you’re trying to get out the door – is tempting, but it can set your whole day back. Research confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time. It reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only focus adequately on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
10. Be flexible.
Sometimes your kids are going to have a hard day. And sometimes you will as well. Sometimes you won’t be able to get a healthy breakfast into anyone, and sometimes you have a late night and go to bed unprepared for the morning.
While routines are important, it’s just as important to be flexible when the situation calls for it. Parents who are inflexible with routine cause more stress and anxiety for their kids and themselves.
If the routines just aren’t working for your kids – maybe they never want to decide on lunch the night before, for example – ask for their input in making routines that will work for the whole family. If kids feel like they’re part of the decision, they’ll be more likely to follow it in the future. And that’s a win for everyone.
Author: Di O’Malley – Founder and Managing Director of Young Minds Health and Development Network and Counselling Psychologist.
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