Let’s face it, if you’re a working mother and you have kids going to school or daycare, mornings can be tough! Getting everyone dressed, fed and out the door before that 9 am meeting can be stressful and exhausting. I call it the Morning Mayhem!
I put together a list of 10 things that work really well for us. Depending on how organized I am I’ll do somewhere between 2 and all 10 of these tips. When I implement all of them, the morning is glorious. When I don’t have my ducks in a row and only implement 2 or 3, well the mayhem starts to set in!
Here you go:
1. Create a schedule and make every effort to stick to it! Do the schedule with your partner so they can support you and be a part of it.
I can’t stress this one enough because it is so critical with kids to have a routine. No matter what the age, from infant to high school, kids respond better when they know what to expect. If you’re a more creative type this won’t come naturally to you but with a little planning and repetition it will become habit.
2. Talk about the schedule with your kids.
If they are old enough you can get their buy in. This will make implementation much easier because again, they know what to expect. Post it on the fridge so it’s in their minds every morning.
3. Give them less to think about in the morning.
Lay out their clothes the night before. If you have a child that battles over what they are going to wear then give them a choice of two outfits.
4. Pack lunch/bags the night before.
If you’re taking young ones to daycare have diaper bag, lunch, snack, whatever you need to bring, packed and ready to go the night before – there are always unplanned events in the morning that will make you late! Older kids: same deal, making lunch the night before will save a lot of time in the morning and allow you to be more involved in getting the kids moving, dressed and eating. Make sure homework is in the bags and ready to go the night before too. This one is a good one…don’t underestimate it!
5. Get up early to do your exercise or to just have calming time to yourself before the mayhem begins.
Ok, I admit it. This one is really tough for me. I am NOT a morning person. For some of you this will be a no brainer and something you would do even on the weekends. For the rest of us…it’s brutal. Here’s what I’ve found has helped. Set a date to start and then keep doing it for three weeks without fail. It’s horrible and I hate it every morning, but once a habit has been formed it actually gets much easier. I start to really enjoy that 45 minutes of yoga all by myself in complete silence. The only problem is that life can get hairy, vacations and holidays throw you out of your routine and then you have to start all over again. I really hate that. Keep getting back on the horse though (I’m telling myself that even more than you!) because it really is regenerating to have peace and time to yourself each morning. If you really can’t do it, well at least do the next point…
6. Get yourself ready before the kids get up.
Don’t try to get your shower in while the kids are eating breakfast! If you’re dressed and ready to go for work before they even get up life will be so much smoother.
7. Put the coffee pot on automatic!
I know this seems simple and maybe it’s only important to those of us who need caffeine to function properly in the morning… but it really is a time saver and one less thing to think about. For me, there’s nothing better than rolling out of bed and having a cup of coffee already waiting for me…but maybe that’s just me!
8. Give kids two or three (max) choices for breakfast
This one is a big one in our house. My 8 year old can kill a good 10 minutes just trying to decide what she wants to eat that morning. If you give a choice – you can have oatmeal or scrambled eggs – then it makes that dawdling time disappear.
9. Get the kids to bed on time
This can make or break your morning. I always know we’re going to be “in for it” when we aren’t on top of getting the kids to bed on time. They are cranky and difficult the next morning and I only have myself to blame! A good night sleep = happier, more cooperative children. Plain and simple.
10. Have a cutoff time when breakfast is over.
This one also stops the dawdling. You can make it fun, it doesn’t need to be punitive. My daughter was learning to tell time when I started this so she would watch the clock as she ate and made a little game out of finishing her breakfast before the clock hit 7:30. With younger kids you’ll need to give them countdown warnings, 10 minutes until breakfast is over, 5 minutes, etc… You may have a couple of mornings where breakfast doesn’t get eaten and you remove it anyway, but they will learn very quickly that these are the natural consequences to daydreaming at breakfast time and they won’t let it happen too many more times.
Mornings can be stressful and hectic, but with a little planning ahead they can become a great start to your day!
Let me know what you do to make mornings go smoothly in your house by leaving a comment!