Throughout the years the mornings did get better, although I could still always use a siesta. It took a lot of energy, which I don’t have, and lots of organizational skills, which are not my strongest suit. But still, I don’t dread mornings as much as I used to.
So what did I do that worked? Here are 3 simple strategies that helped me get a handle on my mornings:
1) Be prepared. This came as a piece of bad news for me, but I think all parents need to hear it: Our mornings start at night. That is, we need to start preparing for our mornings the night before. This seems to be a no-brainer, but I am tired at night. I want to relax. I have to really force myself to spend a half-hour getting organized.
So now in the evenings, I try to tidy up my house, prepare lunches, backpacks, and sign homework and permission slips. I touch base with my kids to make sure that they have clean clothing ready to go.
Oh! Don’t forget the shoes! We used to spend a lot of time looking for shoes. I remind my kids to put their shoes in the mudroom so there won’t be a mad dash in the mornings.
2) Feel your child’s pain. I used to get so frustrated when I would watch my kids slowly climb out of bed, one limb at a time. It was like they were made of jelly. I would think, “Why can’t they just get out of bed? What is the big deal?” Once I started learning about the concept of empathy and how it applies to parenting, I changed my tune. I realized that I needed to put myself in their shoes.
I don’t like getting out from under my warm blanket in the morning. I am certainly not one of those people who hears their alarm and jumps right out, ready to start the day (does anyone do that?). If I don’t like getting out of bed in the morning, it would stand to reason that my kids wouldn’t like it either. So, instead of accusing: “What is taking you so long? How long are you going to lie there?” I would empathize with them: “It can be a challenge getting out from under those warm blankets. You look like you could use a hug!” and “Getting out of bed in the morning can be tough, especially in the winter when its still dark out. Is there anything I can do to help?”
3) Problem solve. When we do have a rough morning, I try not to spend a lot of time blaming myself or my kids:
“What is with me, if I would have just remembered that I had carpool, it would have been less hectic!” or “If you would have only gotten out of bed on time, it would not have been so crazy this morning!”
Instead, I try to be objective about where I slipped up and how I can fix it in the future. Around dinner time, I also try to get my kids input:
“Guys, we had a rough morning this morning. There was a lot of yelling. What can we do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?” and “I don’t feel like this morning went smoothly. There seemed to have been a lot of whining. What do you think we all need to do so that tomorrow morning will be calmer?”
Mornings with kids can be a challenge. It helps to work with your kids by being prepared, compassionate and open to problem solving.
Let us know how what you do to keep your mornings calm. Comment below!
Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP, works as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau facilitating How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk workshops as well as workshops based on Siblings Without Rivalry. Adina also runs parentingsimply.com.