6 Ways to Improve Your Morning Routine
I have never been a morning person. Typically when I read about improving morning routines the advice usually leads with getting up earlier. I understand that if I woke up earlier I would have calmer mornings. I even had some mornings where I have woken up 30 minutes earlier and it has reduced stress and anxiety in the morning. So for those of you who can get up earlier, this will improve your mornings. For those of us who still hit the snooze button and dread getting up early, you can still improve your mornings without getting up before the sun rises.
One of the biggest changes we made as a family to reduce stressful mornings was to move and change jobs. I know this seems drastic to have a move and job change, but we were consistently having bad mornings and it was impacting our life enough to think about a change. I was having mommy meltdowns, feeling resentful that my husband couldn’t participate in the morning routine, and overall starting each day on a negative note. Our morning routine wasn’t healthy for any of our family members.Combining this issue with other factors we made the decision to switch jobs and as a result, it had us move back to our home state.
Now a big change is what we needed as a family, but a huge life change doesn’t need to happen to have better mornings. We are not perfect and needed to improve our mornings outside of the move as well. Here is how we have managed to get our family of five all out of the door without all the headaches, stress, and meltdowns that were happening in our early days as a family.
Maximize Your Sundays
I usually have high hopes for Sundays to get all the things done for the week. This can feel overwhelming and hard to maintain. Nowadays, we have narrowed our focus on what has significantly helped us have a successful week. We do these tasks on Sunday and we make them a priority. We have 4 tasks that we always want to have completed by Sunday night which includes having a set meal plan for the week, grocery shopping, daycare items packed, and reviewing our weekly work and family commitments. Trust me when I say you will set yourself up for successful mornings even if you do just one item on your list each week.
Prep at Night (within reason)
We know after a long day of work what is reasonable for us to prep on a consistent basis. Every family is different, but even a small amount of prep can be helpful to our morning routines. We have tried different items to prep each night, but if we couldn’t sustain the prep we moved it back to our morning routine. If you can’t make it part of your daily routine then it isn’t worth keeping as part of your prep. Some of our daily prep is to clean out lunch boxes and put containers in the dishwasher (don’t forget to turn the dishwasher on!), tidy the first floor of the house for the morning, manage any paperwork, write and check our calendars for next day.
Know Your Children’s School Needs
None of my children are in school yet, but even in our daycare environment, there are tasks that need to be completed. Our oldest has a weekly show and tell on Fridays, share book days, field trips, and other activities. For our younger kids, we might need to bring in diapers, wipes, extra clothes, sunscreen and other items. We collect all of these items and have everything in a bag to be ready to be put in the car. I know as my children get older their school needs will increase and so we are trying to add this to our night or morning routine. Prior to doing this, there would be plenty of times I was heading back home to get those diapers or the show and tell that was needed.
I am not a huge breakfast eater and the mornings can be so focused on our three children that I can forget to eat. This usually isn’t a problem because I can eat on my way to work, but if the morning starts to get stressful without any food in my body this usually triggers high-stress levels and potential meltdowns. I have now added a moment to my morning routine that I try to get something in my system to curb those feelings. It has helped increase my energy levels and has reduced my heightened emotions when stressful morning situations occur.
Create a Routine
Now that my husband is part of our morning routines we have changed our routine quite a bit. Everyone has jobs in the morning and we stick to these jobs to keep the morning running smoothly. For instance, I do the kid’s hair and pick out their clothes while my husband makes lunches and gets the kid’s breakfast ready. Each parent has a job and this keeps our morning’s efficient. We stay out of each other’s way and if we notice that one parent is running late we can easily take over a task that is typically for the other parent. This system has worked out really well for us and our kids appreciate knowing who to go to for specific items in the morning.
Outside of the parents having a routine, our kids have a routine as well. Kids thrive off of routines and the more we stick to a routine the better prepared they are to transition from one task to another without tantrums. It is clockwork in our house and as someone who loves to go with the flow, I have quickly realized that all our mornings are better if we have a solid routine in place for everyone in the morning.
Put Items Within Reach and Same Place
As my children get older and more independent with completing tasks on their own we have started to put items within reach (that are safe for them to do alone) and in the same place so they know where to collect their items. They can all reach and find their toothbrushes, their milk and breakfast in the morning, their shoes, their jackets and other belongings to keep the routine moving along. This helps because sometimes I am involved with helping one of my children and instead of my other two children having to halt their progress with getting ready they can do things on their own. It also makes they proud they can help themselves and not have to always ask for my help. As they get older this has turned our routine that used to be over 2 hours long to get out the door into a one hour morning routine.
No matter how the morning routine went I always make sure that my husband and I leave on a positive note and that I hug and say I love you to my children before I drop them off at daycare. I might still be stressed from our morning, but it is important for them to know that they are loved.
What do you find most difficult about the mornings with children? Any tricks you utilize to streamline your routine?