Morning Sanity...is it Possible for Parents with Young Children? YES!
1. Get everyone to bed as early as possible.
If you have to wake your kids in the morning, they aren't getting enough sleep. Every hour of sleep less than they need sets them back a year in access to brain function, meaning they act a year younger. So if you're dragging your child out of bed, start the bedtime routine earlier. By the way, everyone means EVERYONE! Get yourself to bed and sleep earlier; you can't be your best you when you are lacking sleep.
2. Prepare the night before.
Backpacks, brief cases, lunches made, clothes laid out, coffee pot prepared, breakfast planned. Involve kids the night before too, so they choose their clothing and find that toy car.
3. Establish a weekly family meeting time.
Meet on Sundays or any other day or time when you know everyone can arrange to be there. Keep this meeting sacred -- same time; same place every week. Keep the agenda VERY SIMPLE.
a. Go over the upcoming week's schedule. What will the kids be doing for lunch? How are they getting to and from school each day? Are there any materials needed for their upcoming projects? Do they have any extra-curricular obligations?
b. Give each family member a chance to share - good news, "tough" news, and any suggestions.
4. Make sure you get five minutes of relaxed snuggle time with each child as they wake up.
I know, it sounds impossible. But if everything else is already done, you can relax for five minutes. That time connecting with your child will transform your morning. You fill your child's cup before the day starts, and you re-connect after the separation of the night, which gives your child the motivation to cooperate instead of fight with you. This is the best way to prevent morning whining and resistance.
5. Allow NO ELECTRONICS of ANY KIND in the morning.
Do not allow your children to be on the cellphone, tablet, computer, video game console, or to watch television. You, too, should avoid "hanging out" on any of these items. Try to get and give all electronic information you need for the day completed before the kids get up. Yes, this means that you need to wake up before they do. You can't wiggle on this rule at all. If you do, the distraction will be a negative impact on all your other good intentions and plans.
6. Use routines to make transitions easier.
Kids find transitions hard and the morning is full of transitions. Keep the morning routine as simple as possible.So, for instance, you may want to rethink breakfast. I know, you want to serve your child a hot breakfast at the table. Me too. But I have one kid who just wasn't ready to eat as soon as she got up, so there were times when she regularly ate a sandwich in the car. No less healthy, more peaceful -- a better start to the day. Are you all running around grabbing last minute lunch money or pencils? Make a post-it note with a check off list of all the things that need to be completed prior to walking out the door: - Get dressed - Brush teeth - Lunch from refrigerator to backpack - Confirm after-school plans (might want to have these in writing each day in your children's planners). Put the Post-it on your child's bathroom mirror and make it his job to do and check off the items in the morning. Then require him to hand you the completed list before you all walk out the door.
7. Practice on non-school days.
Sometime on the weekend, grab a "mom" and baby stuffed animal. Have your kids act out the morning routine. Have the little one resist, whine, collapse. Have the mom "lose it" (but don't scare your child by overdoing it. Have the mom be a funny, incompetent bumbler.) Your child will be fascinated. Then, hand your kid the "mom" and play out the scenario again, with you being the kid. Make it funny so you can both giggle and let off tension. Make sure to include scenarios in which the kid goes to school in his pjs, or the mom goes to work in her pjs, or the kid has to yell at the mom to hurry up and get ready, or the mom says "Who cares about that meeting? Let's tell the boss it's more important to find your toy car!" Give him in fantasy what he can't have in reality. You may learn something about how to make things work better. Almost certainly, you'll see more understanding and cooperation from your children on Monday. At the very least, the laughter will defuse the tension.
Modern life puts pressures on kids and parents that can potentially undermine our family connections. Our kids need to feel that loving connection, understand that morning routines help ensure punctual attendance at school, and see consistency of priorities (in other words, you as the parent need to never (well, almost never) waiver on your commitment to prioritizing school attendance.) Once you implement these seven suggestions, your children will learn not only to cooperate, but to thrive. Luckily, when we make time to honor our connection to our kids patiently and calmly our priority, everything else gets a little bit easier.
Go out and make it a great day!! Also, please take time to add comments, suggestions and/or thoughts to this blog. Your input and questions are invaluable. ...or contact me at email@example.com.