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 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.