If 6:00 AM on Monday morning (or any weekday morning) is your least favorite part of the week because you know the next two hours will be an uphill battle that you rarely win, you are in the company of almost every parent I know. And not even a so-called “extra hour” because of the recent time change helps.
Wrangling a teenager out of bed is a monumental feat all its own, never mind the wardrobe meltdown or social media drama unfolding in the background. And prodding little ones through every single step (every single bite, for that matter) can feel like a full day’s work before 7AM.
If just the thought of it makes you hit snooze a couple extra times, I’ve got a few morning routine hacks that you can use to start your day off right.
Why It’s Important:
When your mornings are stressful, you and your kids start the day totally unprepared for work and school. The weekday morning race to feed, clothe and shuffle your kids off to school, and yourself to work, usually leaves you and your kids feeling frazzled.
That frazzled feeling is your body’s alarm response, which shuts down the “smart part” of your brain, the prefrontal cortex. But the smart part of your brain is responsible for paying attention, solving problems, and controlling impulses—all the things you and your kids need for your day ahead.
Weekday Morning Hacks
Here are four weekday morning hacks to get your and your family up and out in the AM:
- Get some ME time. Even fifteen extra minutes in the morning can give you the head start you need to get through the morning without juggling fifteen tasks at once. Wake up before your kids so you can enjoy a cup of coffee, take an uninterrupted shower, or get yourself prepared for your day ahead before the barrage of requests and complaints come your way. You’ll be more prepared to triage your children’s needs without getting caught up in the menial (“life-altering,” says your teen) events that will inevitably arise. How you start your day sets the tone for everyone in the family.
- Be prepared.You’ve heard this before, from me and from every advice column out there. You know your mornings will go more smoothly if you just plan ahead. But that gulf between knowing and doing is as big as here to Alaska. I dare you to take ten minutes at night to just get your clothes ready for tomorrow, and make your and your kid’s lunch. You’d be amazed how much peeling, cutting and bagging the carrots on Sunday afternoons can relieve Monday morning chaos.
- Create a routine. A healthy morning routine is just as important as the bedtime routine, yet it often gets overlooked. Include a calming morning ritual like a morning snuggle (get them while you can), a quick book read, or a walk/bike to school together to put you and your kids in a positive state of mind. Plus, it’s another chance to connect with each other, even if only for a few minutes.
- Turn off the tech. Does your breakfast table resemble that scene you swore you’d never let happen—with every family member crouched over their phone, shoveling food into their mouths with no acknowledgement of each other or the world around them? Or are your kids in the habit of watching cartoons in the morning because, frankly, it keeps them out of your hair?We all get sucked into the allure of technology, but our devices are responsible for activating the alarm part of the brain, just like the stresses we encounter. You’ll get some protest when you tells your kids to “turn it off,” but it won’t last long, and the brain benefits far outweigh the convenience factor. (For you, too. Your emails will be there when you get to your desk.)
Music can be a great alternative to tech with amazing mood-changing benefits. Let your kids pick the songs, and don’t be afraid to get the dance party going at 7 AM. In our house, the comic relief of watching Dad dance has incredible stress-relieving value!
You don’t have to go to work cranky, worn out and foggy headed anymore. With these simple tips, weekday morning dread will be a thing of the past.
and the Mindful Life Team
P.S We have just announced that the next Foundations of Mindful Parenting course will start on Monday, January 8, 2018. If you’d like to finally look forward to mornings, mealtimes, traffic jams, soccer games, or even homework and teen social media dramas in 2018, add your name to the wait list…