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morning routine for school

If there was one common experience in parenting, it would be the morning dance of the frazzled parent and the child moving at a snail's pace during the morning routine. It seems the more urgent a parent is with their request to hurry, the slower a child's feet and hands are inclined to get dressed, eat, and even walk.

If there was one thing that makes the morning a mess, it would be the resistance of a child to a parent's fervent persistence to get them to hurry.

Is there an easier way to surviving the morning routine? The good news: yes.

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But it won't be without an adult seizing the lead and figuring out where the impasse comes from and how to steer through it. In fact, some of our best parenting moments come from realizing when something isn't working and needs to change.

Without question, if anyone can change the trajectory and tone of a morning, it is the parent. Sometimes it is us who needs to change, and sometimes we need to work on others to change. This is not usually done in the heat of the moment, but upon reflection in the guilt-ridden remainder of the day, following the frazzled morning.

What to consider when creating your kid's morning routine

1. Parents have agendas, and kids often have completely different ones.

While a parent needs to get to work or a child to school, that child may not want to go to school. Sometimes they are avoiding getting ready because they are having a hard time separating from a parent, or they might just want to play and not work, or they are fighting with a friend and want to avoid the turmoil altogether.

When you can make sense of what is underneath your child's resistance and help them through it, things may naturally start to go a little smoother in the morning.

2. Parents can't lead kids who don't follow them—and not just in the morning.

If it is generally difficult to get your child to attend to the rules, to do as requested, or to take their cues from adults, then the issue may not be a “morning" one after all, but a relationship one. A child who is not attached to a parent or has moved into a position of dominance over them—coined as an “alpha child" by Gordon Neufeld—is often too difficult to lead, and mornings can be a struggle.

Alpha kids are often bossy, commanding, or can feign helplessness in order to orchestrate their parent's actions. They are allergic to being told what to do, leading to morning battles and the escalation of yelling and threats by their parents. Until the relationship problem has been addressed, a child will not readily follow their adult's wishes in the morning.

3. Humans are hardwired with a natural instinct to resist when feeling coerced.

The harder someone pushes their agenda on us, the more likely the counterwill instinct will be activated, leading to a push back on their agenda. Young children, starting between age two and three years, can grow increasingly resistant to being hurried or moved along.

The more their “own mind" starts to develop, the more ideas they have about what they would like to do and when. A child's agenda at this age often conflicts with the wishes of their parent's but is indicative that healthy development is underway. The only thing that makes a child want to do as told, follow the rules, or make things work for their parent is by being actively attached to the adult who is giving them the orders.

Tips to help your family have an easier morning routine for school

1. Prepare for what's to come.

Talking to kids the night before and filling them in on what will happen the following day can help ease them into the morning routine. Kids typically love to be told the plan for the day, and it can help orient them and deter their resistance. A child's reaction to the plan can alert a parent to the parts they find hard or are not in favor of.

2. Solicit good intentions.

When you tell a child the plan for the next day, you can follow this up by soliciting their good intentions—this means, specifically asking them, “Can I count on you get dressed, come for breakfast, and do your part to make tomorrow morning work?" If there is resistance to the plan, it will likely appear at this time, giving a parent an opportunity to address it.

By soliciting a child's good intentions, you are trying to enlist cooperation and get them on your side in making things work, while leaving some room to figure out where there might be challenges to this. When or if they start to resist the plan the following morning, the parent can remind them of their discussion and their commitment, while also acknowledging that we all have good intentions that are sometimes hard to realize.

3. Collect and engage the attachment instincts.

When a child is attached to a parent, it should provoke instincts to follow, make them want to obey and please, measure up and take their cues from them. Kids, especially young ones, will struggle to listen to those who have not collected their attachment instincts first.

Collecting a child means warming up the relationship in the morning by reading to them, cuddling, or taking time to engage with them in many fashions. After a child has been asleep or playing, their attachment instincts may not be directed at the parent and engaged. If a parent tries to give the child orders, they will be met with resistance, because the counterwill instinct will be stronger than their attachment instinct.

The good news is that when a morning has slid sideways, there are still plenty of opportunities to make it better—tomorrow is indeed a new day.

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My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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