Tips for Making the Morning Easier
Once you have kids, there are certain periods of your day that are just troublesome times. For many parents, these times include the morning stretch between waking up and getting off to work and/or school, the hour or so after school, and bedtime. I know for us, these have always been the hardest time blocks to tame.
So for the next few weeks, I am tackling tips for managing these parts of the day to make for a calmer, smoother, happier experience for everyone involved. I’m starting off with mornings (getting, in my opinion, the hardest one out of the way first!). Here are six tips for making the morning easier:
1. Divide and conquer. One way The Coach and I make mornings smoother is to share in the tasks. He is limited in what he can actually help with, because he has to leave for work at about 6:20 every morning. So getting the kids up, dressed, and out the door is my deal most mornings. However, he takes care of packing their lunches and snacks every day.
2. Prep the night before. This tip is, I’m sure, nothing you haven’t heard before. So it’s not that you don’t know to do this, it is just a matter of getting into the habit of doing it. I get the kids’ clothes out for the next day and make sure backpacks are ready to go the night before. Now, most every article I have ever read about smoother mornings suggests packing lunches the night before. The Coach prefers to do it in the morning, and since he does it, I don’t care when. My point here is, if it doesn’t work for you to do it the night before, then don’t. But figure out what things do work for you to prep the night before, and it is that many fewer things to do in the morning.
3. Know what needs to be done in the morning. Many posts I’ve read suggest preparing breakfast the night before, or at least having everything ready. This does not work with my kids. Almost every time we have tried to pick our breakfast and have it ready the night before, they change their mind in the morning and grump about it. My kids do best if they can choose their breakfast in the morning. So I know I need to allow time for that. Make sure you know heading into the morning what all needs to get done, so tasks or items don’t get missed and forgotten.
4. Have a routine. (Don’t know how to create one? See my post on that here!) Certain things need to be done every morning. For us, those things include making beds, getting dressed, and grabbing backpacks. So we have a routine we follow, so things are more automatic and less likely to elicit complaining. We do things in the same order, so the boys almost stumble through them now as they are waking up. Since we don’t have a lot of time in the morning because I prefer to allow them to sleep as late as possible, we have few things we need to do in the morning. This makes our routine simple and easy to follow.
5. Get up and ready before the kiddos. I get up about an hour before my kids need to be up. This allows me to get ready for work before they are up, which makes that whole process easier and quicker than if I were trying to get ready with kiddos around. Some days they wake up early, but we adjust and they usually either keep me company or watch cartoons in my bed until I finish getting ready. While getting up earlier stinks, so does the stress of trying to get my kids to get ready while I still am, as well. The morning goes about 100 times smoother if I can devote all my attention to them when they get up, which means I can plan less time for their routine, since it flows better.
6. Get buy in from the littles. Do what works for them. For some people, that means making getting ready a game – who can have their coat on first? For my kids, they fight and argue over who wins, so that one doesn’t fly in our house. But a little snuggle time with my little one and a little conversation with my older one works like a charm. And if I have given them that attention, they are a lot more likely to give me their attention when I need it. A tip I just read the other day (and plan to try!) is to set an alarm for kids instead of waking them up. This allows them to choose the music they want, and gives them some responsibility and ownership in getting themselves up. Might lead to less coaxing and grumping at mama!