What’s the most stressful part of your day with the kids?
Earlier in the week, I asked this question in my Facebook group. And getting out in the mornings came out top.
There are lots of things that we can do to make it easier. But one thing we know for sure is if we’re stressed they’re stressed. If we can make our morning easier, then it follows suit that theirs will be easier too.
How to keep your cool
I try most mornings to get up before the kids. That five minutes of peace and quiet with a coffee before the noise of everyone waking up is bliss. In honesty, it’s what keeps me sane during the morning before the kids leave the house. When I was younger I would have killed to have that extra 5/10 mins in bed but now I feel so much better by taking this time for myself.
Try getting your stuff ready the night before, even if it’s just choosing your clothes for the next day. There is research to say the more automatic we make our decisions the less stress it causes us, its the reason Steve Jobs (Apple fame) wore the same everyday.
Know what you and the kids have on the next day and talk about it over breakfast. But prepare yourself first. If kids are surprised it makes them feel unsafe and that causes anxiety and often anger. So if you’re not picking them up after school then make sure you already know who is, so you can go through the plan with them e.g. “don’t forget auntie Jay is collecting you after school today” and then let them know when you will see them “I will collect you after my meeting at 5pm”
It is so much easier to prep them than to try and sort that melt down!
Sleep, sleep, and sleep. I can’t emphasise it enough. That includes us too. If they are not getting enough sleep, you will start the day off with a crabby child. Sleep is huge, it’s where their growing is done, healing of cuts and bruises and processing of all they have learnt that day; doesn’t matter if that’s learning to walk or trigonometry!
The odd late night of a weekend is fine but lots of late nights, impact their mental and physical well-being. We should be looking at approx. 10 hours for the majority of our kids.
Get them to get dressed first
I get mine to get dressed before coming down for breakfast. They are dressed, washed, brush teeth or shower depending on whether they’ve had to shower the night before. And that way, it’s giving them motivation because they’re hungry. They want to come down to eat. If I did it the other way around, the motivation has gone to get dressed quickly.
What are they eating?
Be aware that sugary cereal causes insulin rises and then crashes, which results in moody stroppy or even angry kids, and it’s not fun to work with. So think about plain cereals or have something cooked. I am not talking full English or anything. It could be beans on toast or poached egg. This doesn’t have to be everyday. Two reasons: fills them up and helps regulate their emotions and you get to connect in with them before school.
Connect with them for 10 minutes
Let them have breakfast as you chat. If you can sit at the table and have that conversation about what you’ve got today or what you’re looking forward to or who you’re looking forward to seeing with the younger ones is great. Hearing them and acknowledging them before they leave for the day, which makes it easier for them to go to school. Don’t underestimate that time over breakfast.
Don’t put the TV on
Now I know that’s controversial, but I don’t because it’s a distraction and I can’t afford the time or the fight in the morning. At weekends, of course, but during the week when it is school, the radio is good as it lifts the mood, and kids often sing along or answer the quiz questions. Let the DJ’s do some of their work for you.
I’m not saying ban TV in your house. But you will absolutely see a difference. If it’s part of your routine, then get them to get dressed first!
To make the mornings easier in our house I call the bit by the door the exit strategy. I ask the kids to get their stuff organised the night before, that doesn’t matter if it’s PE kit for school or their dancing shoes or rugby kit. In their room, they have a drawer where their various kits go so they know exactly where they are rather than it go into draws with all the other clothes.
Having a physical timetable helps, they can check it themselves. Its easy to try and do everything yourself but from being small this is one job they can do themselves and it not only takes stress away from you but also teaches them independence.
As well as kit bags, they can get their school bag with snacks and water bottles ready the night before and pop by the front door too.
Give it a go and let me know how your mornings are going. Good luck and feel free to post in the group anytime you need help or support – we have a fabulous community of parents and educators in there.