The way your day starts is so important to setting the tone of your entire day. But no matter how much you want your morning to be calm and peaceful, if you have kids, you know this won't happen without some planning. As a working parent, I'm also concerned with not letting the impression that I leave with my kids before we leave each other for the day to be one of stress and chaos. Here are some things that you may want to try if you are looking to make your mornings less chaotic.
This may be obvious, but perhaps not as apparent if you haven't found a way to implement it yet: half the battle of the morning is won in the preparation that you do the night before.
Things to do the night before:
1. Tidy up. The last 5-10 minutes before going to bed, do a sweep, especially the rooms you use most in the mornings like the kitchen and dining room. Load the dishwasher, clear the counters and table— just enough for it to feel like a fresh start in the morning and less like you are piling on top of more mess. Having cleared the tables and counters will do wonders for making things more efficient.
2. Pack lunches and make a plan for breakfast. Go ahead and pack those school lunches — you know you should! Leaving that until the morning will inevitably end up with you feeling distracted and rushed. It's also a good idea to plan what you're eating for breakfast. I plan the whole week in advance and I love not having to make yet another decision in the morning.
3. Prep your launch pad. If you have a foyer table, mudroom or counter — any place that would work as a launch pad — get that ready, too. Basically, it's the place that is going to be your last stop before heading out the door. Shoes, backpacks, mail and school papers need to be placed here and ready to go. If your kids are old enough, have them do this themselves before going to bed.
4. Go over your schedule. Take a couple of minutes to mentally go over the plan for the next day. If you keep a to-do list or journal, go over it and make sure you are mentally prepared to take it on. Doing this will also help ensure that you are on the same page as your partner and kids and you can communicate any last minute changes or updates as necessary.
5. Set your clock. This is a little trick that may or may not work for you, but it may be worth a try if you find yourself late every day. Set all the clocks that you look at in the morning about 10 minutes later. This may help move you and everyone else along.
Things to do in the morning:
6. Get up early. Prioritize your sleep (meaning go to bed early!) and wake up a little earlier — not just for the sake of your kids, but so that you have some time for yourself. Wake up before your kids are up and you might be able to capture some calm for yourself and start the day off with a resolve to stay aware and present.
7. Hydrate. If you don't already, keep some water by your bed and hydrate first thing in the morning. This is just another thing that you can do for yourself and feel good about, especially since you can find yourself forgetting to drink water in the rush of feeding everyone else.
8. Connect with your kids. Take a few minutes to connect with your kids. It doesn't need to be a long time - even just five minutes could be enough — to get eye-to-eye, cuddle, have a conversation, or whatever works best for your child. Often times, this can be what starts their day off right and can prevent tantrums, crankiness, or other incidents during the morning.
9. Involve your kids. Make sure that each kid understands what their responsibilities and to-do lists are for every morning. You can make each kid an index card that they can refer to, or a large chart that they can look at and check off. Incorporate rewards if that is something you think will appropriately motivate. Also, make breakfast a do-it-yourself event. Set out the various components and have the kids serve themselves, or if necessary, make breakfast be a grab-and-go situation.
10. Implement a timer. This may work if your kids are motivated by competition — use a kitchen timer and tell them how many minutes they have for each activity. If you don't think this will work for you, have a playlist of upbeat music that you can play to get everyone moving and feeling positive. If you play the same playlist each morning, it will also help as a reference for where each person needs to be in their morning routine to get out the door in time.
Do you have any tried and true methods? Share them below!