Ditching Your Morning Chaos
Mornings can be tough. Especially when you throw kids into the mix. I am not a morning person by nature; I dread my alarm going off. It is a rarity for me to wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy, but I know if I don't get my butt out of bed when my alarm goes off my entire morning gets more complicated and stressful. Before we get into the morning, let's back this train up and talk about an important part of ditching the morning chaos; let's talk about the night before.
Part of successfully surviving the morning chaos is doing some prep work the night before. At night we follow a routine to help our mornings run more smoothly. Trust me when I tell you that at night, when I'm already exhausted from the day, cooking dinner, doing laundry, carting kids to sports, helping with homework, and trying to spend some quality time with my 3 children, the last thing I want to do is more, but doing a little more at night makes a huge difference in the morning. One thing we do at night is that we all pick out our outfits for the next day and lay them out. This removes the stress of trying to figure out what everyone is going to wear to school or work. The outfits are chosen, ironed if necessary, and laid out with everyone being in agreeance of what they will wear the next day. Another thing we do at night to lessen the stress and chaos of the morning is that we pack lunches the night before. Lunches are all packed and placed in the refrigerator, and the water bottles are placed on the counter to be filled in the morning.
Getting the kids to bed at a reasonable time is another important part of helping my mornings run more smoothly and feel less chaotic. I LOVE my children, but they are like me in the way that if we don't get enough sleep we are not happy campers the next day. No matter what time they go to bed, they still wake up at the same time, EVERY morning, leaving them with less sleep time and more grumpiness. I need my sleep, and so do they. It's important to follow the recommendations for amount of sleep for the age of your child, but also take your child's personality, needs and abilities into consideration. Some children may be recommended to get 8 hours of sleep, but as their parent you know they need 10 to be at their best; it's ok for you to trust your instincts and make sure they have a bedtime that is conducive for their needs. I strongly believe that having a bedtime routine is an important part of a good night's sleep. Sure, there may be nights where a basketball game interferes or makes bedtime a little later, but for the most part we follow our routine and schedule pretty closely. Lack of sleep can be a huge factor in children's behavior and ability to be successful in their mornings.
Ok back to the morning. My alarm goes off at 5:40; not 5:30. 5:40. The ten minutes really makes a difference. My first child wakes up around 6 a.m. and I want to make sure that I am already up, showered and dressed before they wake up. If I stayed in bed until one of them woke up, I would be constantly be chasing my tail and trying to get ahead. By getting my butt out of bed before any of the kids wake up, it gives me some extra time to be ready before they come strolling out of their bedrooms. Getting up a littler bit earlier than your kids can give you a huge advantage in the mornings. Whether you use that time to shower, have your coffee, exercise, whatever, it helps you adjust to the day before a little person is standing in your room waking you up abruptly. Trust me when I tell you that being woken up by a tiny person staring at you, or being tapped repeatedly and hearing "mommy, mommy, mommy", is way more stressful and startling than the alarm.
In my house we have a routine that we have been following since my ten year old twins were in preschool; wake up, wash your face, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack our backpacks. Only when they have completed those responsibilities do they have "free time". There is no tv, screens, Legos, trains, play-doh, etc. until after they do everything they "must do". When they were really little I even had a visual list I would have them use to make sure they knew what the next step was in their routine. Upstairs I had a picture of a child washing their face and getting dressed, while downstairs had a child eating breakfast, brushing teeth and packing their backpack.
In addition to prepping the night before, waking up early or on time, and following the morning routine, another part of avoiding the morning chaos could be picking your battles carefully; don't sweat the small stuff. Try to roll with the punches and be flexible when it's possible. If your child doesn't finish their breakfast, oh well, maybe they will learn their lesson and eat better the next day. Can't find their library book? Oh well, write a note or let them receive the natural consequence at school for not having their book returned on time. Don't let a small bump in the road derail your entire morning or add to the stress or chaos; focus on the big picture and take a deep breath!