How to make mornings a calm start to your family’s day

As a mother, I know that my mood and demeanor are impactful on the people around me. This is especially true for my small children.

How to make mornings a calm start to your family’s day

There are some mornings everything just seems to flow. The kids quickly get dressed. Then everyone gobbles up breakfast and jumps in the car. But I will be honest, this is rare.

Instead, most mornings feel like a shuffle where I can never find a pair of matching socks and someone ends up in tears.

Every person in the house is on a different agenda:

  • My husband is trying to get ready for work.
  • I work from home, so I am trying to get the kids off to school.
  • My 4-year-old is trying to solve an epic battle between Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.
  • My 1-year-old is begging for cookies for breakfast.

We all have different priorities and agendas. Our kids live in the moment. Sometimes I yearn for that ability to live in the present and not worry about time. It seems like a real gift. But it's not a gift to me in the mornings. In the mornings, I have to get stuff done—on a schedule.

In our house, the single most important thing I do is set the temperature for our mornings.

As a mother, I know that my mood and demeanor are impactful on the people around me. This is especially true for my small children.

Therefore, I am careful to make sure that I am the thermostat, not the thermometer. The thermostat sets the temperature.That means when the mother is calm, the kids are calm. On the flip side, the thermometer reacts to it. The means when the kids get upset, the mother gets upset.

When I wake up on the right foot and set the temperature, I stay calm. Our mornings flow easier. It's not always easy and it's not always possible. But that's how I strive to start the days: calm.

Here’s what to do:

1. Wake up before the kids

I have hopes and dreams of waking up two hours before the kids. I would do yoga, write in a gratitude journal, and then sip on some organic herbal tea. It would be beautiful. But it also doesn't happen.

So instead of setting my alarm for 4:30am, I just try to get up five to 10 minutes before my kids. Even with just a few minutes, I feel like I am ahead of the game.

In 10 minutes, I can get a quick shower. In five minutes I can start a pot of coffee. In the calm before the storm, this allows me to check at least one box off the list. I start the day feeling like I am #winning.

2. Use batching

Batching is an easy tool that can make a huge difference for the mornings. When you batch a task, you do a large amount of it all at one time. If you have four kids, you may need to batch teeth brushing. That means getting everyone lined up and tackling it together. This will prevent your mental load from having to remember...whose teeth do I still need to brush?

Batching is also a handy tool when it comes to lunches. If you can make several days worth of lunches in one sitting, you will save time and energy in the mornings.

3. Be human

Last week I dropped my kid off at school, only to realize she had no shoes. Maybe I should have been embarrassed, but I wasn't. She has slippers there and she wore those for the day.

When it comes to parenting we have to give ourselves some grace.

We are human and sometimes we forget things. Sometimes we have to pick our battles. There are days when the teeth just aren't going to get brushed. Or the socks will not match. There's always tomorrow.

4. See it from their perspective

Our kids don't really care about being late. They often don't have a strong understanding of time or the consequences that come along with being late. So when they become deeply immersed in a LEGO creation just minutes before it's time to go, breathe deeply.

It seems like they are "just playing" but it might be important to them. Play is the work of childhood and we need to calmly and respectfully get them into the car.

5. Use screens strategically.

If your kids get screen time in the mornings, use it strategically. If you start the morning with screens, it can be hard to drag kids away to get ready for the day. But if you use them as a type of reward, you can have everyone eat, get dressed and get completely ready before flipping them on.

This isn't a solution that works for everyone (personally, any type of morning screen time slows down the momentum of our mornings, so we skip it.). But if you do use screen time in the morning, time it to work to your advantage.

In This Article

    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

    One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

    If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

    Stylish storage cabinet

    Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.


    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

    Work + Money

    Cameron Diaz on having a baby at 47: 'You really have to work hard for it'

    "The only pressure for me now is I have to live to be, like, 107, you know? No pressure!"

    This is the decade that saw the face of first-time motherhood change. The number of first-time mamas under 30 is shrinking, while more and more women are becoming moms after 40.

    Cameron Diaz is one of them. The actress and businesswoman, now 48, became a mom in January at the age of 47. In a new episode of Naomi Campbell's YouTube series, No Filter, Diaz opens up about what it's like to become a mom in your fourth decade.

    "A lot of people do it the other way around ... they get married [and] have a family in their youth," says Diaz."I'm kind of doing it in the second half of my life."

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