… and actually get to drink a hot cup of coffee before noon!
Written by Elaine Tan Comeau
Being a mom is like having to be a superhero, or the CEO of your own household! Studies show that morning time is the most stressful time for moms — but it does not have to be this way! Discover five strategies to successfully melt morning stress away and get your kids to shine to their full potential as helpful members of the family!
- Manage your time.
There is a saying that goes like this, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” The best way to free up time in the morning is to plan to get things prepared the night before. I know we’ve all heard this, but how many of us do it? Taking just one thing out of the morning routine and getting it done the night before gives you an extra 10 to 20 minutes in the morning! It is worth it, whether it’s picking out clothes for tomorrow and laying them out, or packing lunches and putting them in the fridge. Demonstrating to our kids how to plan ahead and spread out tasks over time, instead of cramming, teaches them a life skill that will prepare them for bigger challenges as they continue to grow older, challenges they will face when it comes to things like doing big school projects and studying ahead for multiple exams.
- Manage your expectations.
If children could be programmed like robots to do everything they are supposed to do, there would be no need for us parents! Parenting is not so controlled, so let’s make our expectations realistic. Identify one to three key tasks or steps you want your child to accomplish each morning. For example, you may want them to become independent at getting dressed and being at the breakfast table by 7:45AM. Start with small steps to help them build up independence. When they can see success in completing one small step with ease, they will be more up for the challenge of doing another task independently.
- Manage your routine.
Nothing makes things happen faster and more successfully than with repetition. Consistancy is key here. When you have a regular morning routine on school days, your children will just go through the steps with familiarity and ease; well, at least most mornings. Drawing out or listing the routine, a visual routine, is handy here. Having a visual schedule helps kids see and predict the routine you expect them to do. It is always a good plan to set our children up for success. It is not pleasant for us or our children when we yell and repeat over and over what we want them to do, because they will just tune out the noise. Visual routines help lessen the nagging and constant reminding. Studies show that kids as young as preschool age benefit from visual schedules because they become more independent and cooperative, all because they can see and predict what is happening next. Make it manageable, choose the routine of only 3-5 steps you expect and want them to become independent and successful at. Perhaps, “get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack backpack” to start off! Or if they are younger, just “get dressed and have breakfast”. When your children keep doing the same routine each morning, it becomes a habit and eliminates the morning confusion and battle. Consistent routines teach our children how to establish good habits.
- Manage your helpers.
You have heard that it takes a village to raise a child. This is so very true, right? Look at who walks to school when you are out doing the same, and see what families live close by that you can carpool with or take turns walking kids to school and picking up. When you divide and conquer, much time can be saved, as well as sanity! Siblings can be helpful too; as older ones can help set the table and younger ones can get out the cereal. Your children will see that teamwork and community are dependent upon people helping each other, another great life lesson taught!
- Manage your words.
The words that come from our mouths can set the tone for the day. Yes, scary. I remember vividly one morning when I caught myself from wanting to say to one of my kids something like, “Why do you always leave your plate on the table?” Instead of saying something negative, I made myself say, “Why are you always so very helpful to mommy?” I remember it felt forced and awkward as I consciously made that immediate change in my thoughts and as the words came spilling out of my mouth, but I will always remember what happened next. As soon as I said it, my son’s shoulders went from slumped to proudly back as his spine straightened and a proud smile spread across his face. He then picked up his plate and put it in the dishwasher without me even asking. I remember standing there in amazement; wow! Words are powerful. Our words that we say to our children can set up their day with confidence or defeat. As a former school teacher, I have heard the words that come out of kids when they are speaking to their peers, I can hear them echo praises like their parents and I have also heard the deflating words that their parents have imparted as well. Let’s teach our children the power of words as we build them up and not tear them down.
The wonderful thing is, none of us are perfect. Parenting is not about being perfect. Parenting is about being present, being there for our children and letting them see who we are and hopefully striving to be the person we hope for them to be. Good parenting means letting our kids see us make mistakes and letting them see how we pick ourselves up as we learn daily. We can all learn lessons in life with these five strategies to conquering the morning madness. Who knew that the start of the day could be so impactful!
Elaine Tan Comeau is a Mom of Three, Wife, Award Winning Entrepreneur and Educator, Creator of Easy Daysies® Magnetic Schedules for Kids, Dragons’ Den Winner, 2014 Canadian Mompreneur of the Year, Mompreneurs ® – Vancouver Chapter Owner, and Podcast Host.