Ever have a morning where everything goes right and you feel like you are a superhero, dropping your well-coiffed, adorably dressed, smiling kids off to school after feeding them a healthful breakfast and enjoying a delightful morning together?
How about a morning where you and your kids are totally rushed and stressed, and the fact that anyone got to school with a lunch and clothes on seems like a small miracle?
Truth be told, I don’t always get this right, but the difference in the days that I do and the days I don’t is significant.
On this parenting journey, many things change as your kids go through different phases of childhood. But through it all, few tools are more consistently helpful than a tight and right routine. When it comes to weekday mornings, there is no better time than the busiest time of year to aim for your A-game each morning.
If you’re ready for smooth mornings consistently, here are the keys to master:
Wake Up First
How many times have you woken up to your children’s sweet voices telling you they’re up and they’re hungry. There go any chances of getting ahead or drinking your first cup of coffee in peaceful silence.
How can you avoid this? Get up first!
Listen, I know it’s not easy to get up any earlier than you already do, but the reward of having time to yourself in the morning is well worth whatever you’ve got to do to make it happen.
Go to bed earlier. Set an alarm. Remove digital devices from your bedroom. Avoid caffeine too late in the day. Begin to dim the lights or switch to candlelight earlier in the evening. Say no to more weeknight obligations. Whatever. It. Takes.
Make the Most of Your Buffer
So, you’ve successfully woken up early and don’t expect to hear from the other members of your household for a good hour. Good job!
Now, what to do with your newfound time?
Here you may be tempted to clean something or knock some to-do’s off of your list.
What if, instead, you took this time to do those things that are most important to you?
Perhaps you need to take better care of your health and you prepare something nutritious or exercise. Perhaps you have a spiritual practice you’d like to more regularly incorporate into your life. Perhaps you have a book you’d like to read. Perhaps there’s a topic you’d like to study or a language you wish to learn. Perhaps you have a creative project or a business venture that you’d like to get some traction on.
However you wish to spend this time, allow it to be dedicated to your own true priorities. Parents often put their own needs last, but the truth is, parents who are addressing those needs for themselves are more present and happy in their jobs as parents.
Add Playtime to the Morning Routine
You’re crunched for time as it is, right? There’s no time for play in the morning.
What if you tell your kids that if they finish their breakfast and get themselves completely ready to walk out the door for school (shoes on, teeth brushed, coat and backpack within arm’s reach) that they can have the rest of the morning to play.
Do you think they’d get done more quickly and without a lot of unpleasantries? I do. Give it a try! This is my holiday gift to you.
If you want to make yourself feel way ahead of the game, while they play, knock off some of your easiest to-do’s. Start a load of laundry. Fill or empty the dishwasher. Tidy up. Get dinner into the slow cooker.
You’ll be skipping all the way to school!
Make Nighttime Prep Nonnegotiable
Probably the most important key to a smooth morning routine is the preparation you do the night before.
By the time your kids get to bed and you’ve begun to wind down at night, it can be easy to put off until the morning the simple but numerous tasks that make the difference between a harried beginning to your day and a calm one.
Don’t allow yourself to fall off the wagon. Always prepare what you can the night before.
Make lunches, fill out forms, pack bags, pick out clothes, and set your intentions or goals for the next day. Your morning self with thank you.