Leaving your home is something you completely take for granted before having children and that can lead you to feel like an utterly incompetent human afterwards.
Before, you’d grab your bag and go.
Now, as if herding cats, you’re begging and pleading with smaller humans about things like brushing teeth, finding shoes, not removing socks, clothes that are itchy or too loose or too tight or too cool or too warm. There could be any manner of yelling, crying, whining, complaining, and that’s just mom.
Then there’s the guilt.
If your exit goes awry when you finally do make it out the door this false start to the morning can be hard to shake. You can see the lingering stress on the faces of your kids. You can feel your elevated heart rate. This is not how you want to start your day or that of your babies.
We’ve all been there.
If you’d like to aim at reducing these morning false starts in your household, here are some ideas to try on for size.
Get Enough Sleep
If getting out the door is a consistent struggle, check your sleep and that of your children.
Are you waking easily at the sound of your alarm or does it come all too soon? Are you prying your children out of bed each morning?
These are signs that you are not getting enough sleep. Do what you can to adjust bedtimes to an earlier hour. That may mean preparing dinner earlier, letting go of some evening activities, bathing or showering earlier, and not using your phone in bed (eh hem).
More sleep leads to more calm, more patience, clearer thinking, and happier mornings.
Straighten Up Your Space
If you’re spending a lot of time in the morning looking for things like shoes, socks, and homework, your space could likely use some straightening.
Try to develop a habit of cleaning as you go and keeping everything in its place. Clutter, though seemingly harmless, can cause stress and affect family life.
By the end of the day, what parent isn’t exhausted? However, putting in the effort to prepare breakfast items and lunches, fill out school forms, set backpacks at the front door, lay out tomorrow’s clothes, set the coffee maker, and anything else you can do ahead of time the night before will make the morning run so much more smoothly.
If your children are old enough (and that may be younger than you think) involve them in the nighttime prep and give them responsibility.
Post a Checklist
Involve your children in discussing morning routines and come up with a checklist of things that need to be done before you leave the house. Give each child the responsibility of checking off the items on his or her list.
The simple list could include: get dressed, eat breakfast, clean up after breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair, and so on.
Create a Morning Playlist
Music can impact moods, help everyone maintain awareness of time, and reinforce habits.
Create a playlist of happy, gentle, inspiring, or exciting music to start your morning to. A la Pavlov’s dog, some well-selected tunes will help your family find their morning groove.
Lean on Positive Reinforcement
As your children go about their morning, aim to find the positive rather than hurrying them along. Recognize the things that are going well.
“Great job getting dressed so quickly this morning, Jack!” “We are almost ready, I’m so proud of you guys!” “You brushed your hair all by yourself, Sarah. Good work!”
Shift the dialogue of the morning from one of problems to one of solutions.
Store Emergency Items in the Car
If time is getting away from you, leave yourselves a lifeline with a stash of extra shoes, brushes, cereal bars, hair ties, and school lunch money in your car. The kids can utilize the drive time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to tie up loose ends.
When it all breaks down, and it will, try to take it a little more lightly. Be kind to yourself and to your kids. Discuss what went well and what you can work on as a team. Focus on the day ahead and what you’re looking forward to. Give lots of hugs. Know that you are not an inferior human.