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Amy was not a fan of Mondays. As a mother of four, getting everyone fed and off to school without at least one tantrum (sometimes hers) felt impossible. Though her children had regular turn-in and wake-up times, Amy and and her husband had yet to embrace smaller strategies that can make mornings easier. And easier mornings pack more benefit than just brighter moods—they can offer extra free time and improved performance at work and school.
The first step in any good morning is a good night’s sleep. Make sure everyone in the family is getting the rest they need. Studies have connected poor sleep habits to depression and impaired driving. Avoid bringing activities like TV watching and internet browsing into the bedroom. If your kids have smartphones or tablets, round them up at night, so their sleep isn’t disturbed by notifications from apps or friends and to remove their temptation to play instead of sleeping. Getting enough rest is essential to living a safe and happy life. Dedicate your bedrooms to sleep.
How much of your morning hassle stems from not being able to find a shoe, a backpack or a set of keys? Build shelves and hang hooks in convenient locations. Place shoes, backpacks, gloves and other daily essentials in the same place whenever entering the house. A family calendar located near your newly created command center can be a great asset.
What’s needs to happen tomorrow? Is it your turn to pick up snacks for the office, or does a child have a book report due? Note the next morning’s tasks on the wall in the family command center, or consider using technological solutions like Google Calendar or one of many family scheduling applications available in your smartphone’s app store.
We know where everything is, now let’s make sure tomorrow’s essentials are packed and ready to go. Double-check your to-do list and consider leaving out a note or other reminder to grab lunch from the fridge and swoop up all the things on your list for the morning.
Providing structure instills a sense of certainty and security in your children. Continue this trend and begin nighttime toothbrushing, face washing, and story reading at the same time every evening. Prevent early morning battles over wearing clothing that is weather and school appropriate by asking your kids to lay out the clothes they want to wear before they go to bed at night. Make sure everyone has their glass of water and whatever else is needed before calling lights out. Then begin winding down for your bedtime.
Oversleeping adds needless stress to an already hectic morning schedule. If oversleeping is a problem in your home, try placing alarm clocks out of reach in a place that requires standing before switching them off. Find ways to reward family members for waking up on time. Perhaps with a yummy Monday morning breakfast, or a unique activity that only happens after everyone wakes up on time.
One cranky parent can set the wrong tone for the entire family. Set your alarm early enough to allow yourself a period of quiet time between getting ready for the day and waking the children. You may find fifteen minutes spent reading a good book more rewarding than twenty sprawled in bed avoiding the inevitable.
We could all use a little extra encouragement to leave our warm beds in the morning. Since you’re ready for the day a few minutes early, try opening everyone’s blinds and allow the sun’s light to play its role in the body’s natural wake-up process. Sunlight may be lacking on early winter mornings, so consider an electrical substitute light source. A tall glass of water is an excellent help in energizing a tired and dehydrated body, and morning music playlists can be a fun way to get the family moving.
Home-cooked breakfasts are ideal, but that doesn’t mean they need to be complicated. Pre-bake morning meals like these On-the-Go Breakfast Egg Cups or Veggie Muffins. Stay away from unhealthy breakfast treats like sugary cereal, granola bars, and juices that spike blood sugar and then leave kids hungry later. Consider having your kids wait until after breakfast to get dressed to lessen the chances of anyone wearing their healthy meal to school.
Prepare your children’s brains for learning by leaving the television and other devices turned off. You’ve freed up time in the mornings for yourself and each other. Have the kids get those daily reading minutes in before school, or enjoy the opportunity for conversation and an extra snuggle.
Amy’s mornings have improved since she created her command center and barred iPads at the breakfast table. “My kids are coming around to these new routines. The first one to be ready at the breakfast table gets to choose the Spotify playlist that morning, and setting out clothes the night before has motivated my two oldest children to do a load of laundry now and then. It’s fun to see all them keep each other in check, and none of them want to be the reason we’re late pulling out of the driveway come 7:05.”