Morning Madness

Ahh the crazy routines of carpools, programs, homework and early morning scrambles. Living in the fast pace of trying to make everything run like clockwork, can be overwhelming. For many of us the tone of the day is set by the morning, a good morning can start the day off well and make it all seem manageable, a bad day can leave us feeling angry frustrated and frazzled. We then bring these feelings into work with us or carry them with us as we move through our day.

The same is true for our kids, if they walk into school already agitated and upset, they will overreact to little things which can get in the way of learning and positive social experiences. It is really important to have a good morning routine that can help us all start the day out well and get to work or school feeling upbeat.

Not every morning will go perfectly but you can certainly decrease or eliminate the yelling, lecturing and threatening. How many of us get the frantic tone in our voice urging our kids to” get out the door! Hurry up; I’m going to be late! Why do you do this to me every morning?” How many times do we promise ourselves that we won’t let this happen anymore only to find that it does? Here is a plan to help everyone start the day out right.

First, give yourselves lots of time. Whatever you thing you or your children may be getting out of those few extra minutes of sleep is being undone by the rush it will cause later.

Talk to your children and tell them there will be a new morning routine designed to make everyone happier in the morning, and tell them what that new routine will look like. Then the next day if you can wake up before the kids to get dressed have your coffee and read the paper. Once you have had a chance to take care of yourself, wake the kids up earlier than you have been, I usually recommend 30 minutes earlier than usual.

Break the morning up into what I call windows. The first window is your Childs personal time. They can have 20 minutes all to themselves without you telling them what to do. Wake them up warmly with hugs, kisses and kind words. If they love that great, if they grumble and they don’t like it, stay neutral, don’t get mad then calmly leave the room. They can lie in bed; they can go back to sleep, play with toys, read, whatever you normally allow in the morning. After that the next window opens and that may be getting dressed and brushing teeth. It is 15 minutes long you can give them instructions 3 times; when the window opens, to tell them five minutes before it closes and when it has closed.

If they get dressed right away they have more personal time, if they want to play with their toys with one leg in their pants that’s fine too as long as pants are on by the time the window closes. You do not nag or remind in the window. Then they move onto the next window which is eating breakfast. Follow the same rules. Here comes the most important part, the last window is the getting out the door window. It is extremely rare that you can stand at the door at 8:28 and say let’s go and everyone follows you out the door in single file and you are on your way by 8:30. It doesn’t happen. It takes at least 15 minutes generally to get out the door. Leave yourself that time. Tell the kids it is time to go 15 minutes before departure. That way when they can’t find their gym shoes or the hate the shirt they have on and need to change you are calmly waiting at the door knowing you have built in time for this.

If your kids do not accomplish what they needed to during one of the windows they can owe you that 15 minutes back, with a job to do that takes 15 minutes, or by going to bed 15 minutes earlier. Make sure to follow through if that is what you have set up. You can also give positive rewards later if you like, for accomplishing tasks during a window.

Mornings will be much more relaxed and enjoyable, everyone can start the day feeling good, feeling loved and feeling positive.

Give yourself more time

Stay neutral

Don’t nag

If they don’t accomplish what they needed to in one of the windows, stay calm and follow through with the consequence later.

Fill the morning with laughter and cuddles.

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Please remember that the advice given on this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or the direct advice of a mental health care professional.
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