In the life of any working parent there are a few predictable stress points. One is The Morning. When you have children, mornings start EARLY. Sometimes painfully early. And getting everyone up, dressed, fed and out the door in time for the buses and trains and commutes can leave you feeling as if you ran a marathon before you even hit your desk.
Mornings don’t have to be Groundhog Day, though. You can make some tweaks to your routine and timing to make mornings not just bearable, but actually enjoyable.
Prep the night before: I’ve read pros and cons on this suggestion and the truth is that you are trading evening time for morning time. But if you are someone who finds the idea of getting up earlier too terrible to contemplate, it might be worth the tradeoff. (Especially if your evening often devolves into mindless puttering around the house without actually accomplishing anything.) When my children were very small, and needed the most hands-on care in the morning, I literally had a checklist of things I would do the night before – prep breakfast, pack lunches, set out everyone’s clothes (including mine!). It made those mornings much easier.
Speaking of checklists: This past summer while I was on a business trip my husband created checklists for both of our children. They are brilliant. No more reminding them to brush their teeth, clear their dishes, and so on. Now, as soon as they are done with breakfast we just remind them to “run the checklist” and they are off to the races. Checklists ensure nothing gets forgotten and they enable our kids to be a lot more independent with the morning routine.
Give yourself enough time to not be rushed: I do recognize that getting up any earlier than you absolutely have to can be a tough sell. But I sincerely believe that the advantages of a morning with less stress far outweighs the dubious benefits of hitting snooze three more times. I’ve found that as little as 15 minutes is the difference between a pleasant morning that includes breakfast, reading the paper and chatting about the upcoming events of the day and a morning that involves yelling and tears. I’ll happily give up 15 minutes of sleep for the former.
Make time for connection if you can: Again, I know it’s a tough sell to suggest making *more* time in the morning, but if you can find a few minutes to sit down and have breakfast and create a little oasis of family time it makes mornings so much more pleasant. I believe in the virtuous circle – if the morning is stressful then everyone will anticipate stress and be even more reluctant to get out of bed, creating more stress. On the other hand, if the mornings are fun and give everyone another chance to be together as a family it can become self-reinforcing. (Remind me of this post in a few more weeks when it’s pitch dark at wake-up time and no one – including me – wants to get out of bed. I may need to amend!)
Do you have tips or tricks for making the morning more manageable? Please share them in the comments.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of THE 5TH. Find them at http://www.the5th.co/