We’re going on almost one year of Stress-free Mornings – but it wasn’t always like that. Our mornings were frustrating, stressed and rushed until I made one simple change to transform our mornings.
Now, I’m not just going to share the one thing that I do to make our mornings easier and more pleasant – because while that one thing makes a huge difference, there are also a few things I do on the weekends and the night before that all contribute to a calmer and happier morning.
How to Make Mornings Stress-free with Kids
For those who might not know, I still run a preschool program out of our home 3 days a week. It used to be full-time but it’s now 3-days a week to allow for more balance. So by the time Ella opens her eyes in the morning, there is usually already at least one other child in our home that requires my attention – so I get the struggles of parents with more than one child.
It used to be that every morning was full of constant reminders, nagging, annoyance, and defiance.
My daughter had figured out the exact spots in her room where I can’t see her without actually going into the room. So she would sit, in her pyjamas, in those spots and wait for me to come in and discover her silently refusing to get dressed. And then, after maybe the 5th reminder and a threat of a revoked privilege, she slowly, as if moving through molasses, would start putting on her clothes… but never the socks. No, we must always be reminded to return to our room for socks.
When she finally did emerge fully dressed, brushing hair and actually eating breakfast (and not chasing after distractions) were the new challenges that took up the remainder of our morning.
It was so frustrating and before I knew it – I had spent an hour and and a half giving reminders and it was time for her to head out the door without us getting to have any quality time.
I finally had a day when I refused to let this pattern continue.
I hated the thought of my daughter heading to school with a morning full of nagging and feeling like she was disappointing me. We want to send our kids to school built up and confident, yet the last hour they have in our homes in the morning don’t always do that.
I wanted to give my daughter a positive morning, full of connection and positive routines that would send her to school happy and confident, prepared to take on the world.
The one thing that I did to change our mornings?
I prioritized connection.
Structuring our morning so that all of our tasks were as stream-lined and simple as possible so that we could focus on connecting and having a positive start to our day has made all the difference.
So what does that look like?
Basically, anything that does not facilitate connection needs to be evaluated:
- Do you need to answer those e-mails or Facebook tags right away or can they wait until after the kids are at school?
- Does making lunches in the morning make us feel rushed and stop us from sitting down with the kids for breakfast?
- Are you showering in the morning, stressing out about whether everyone is going to be on time and shouting out reminders to keep the kids on task?
When I looked at it, I realized that I was trying to fit so many small tasks into my mornings that were causing me to be distracted and not connected.
By changing some things around so that I was less distracted and more available, I was able to help her through her morning rather than nag her through it. I was able to sit down and spend some quality time over breakfast, rather than multitasking in the kitchen as the kids were left to annoy and distract each other at the table.
We even have time now to read together before heading off to school, or have a mini dance party – and sometimes, she’s even ready in time that we can start a small craft before we have to leave for school.
Not only does she feel happy heading off to school, I’ve noticed that I am starting my day less stressed. I didn’t even realize how frazzled I had become in the mornings until we made this change and everything just started to feel so much lighter.
Connection has completely transformed our mornings.
In order to prioritize connection, there are some things I do each weekend and each evening so that we both can have easier mornings.
I’ve also started prioritizing connecting with myself each morning before Ella wakes up, but that’s a topic for a different post!
Things to Do Each Weekend for Easier Mornings
Pre-packing single-serve snacks, menu planning and even going through the school calendar to prevent last minute panics can make mornings easier.
This is what we do every Sunday to make for easier weekday mornings:
- Fill up lunch snack boxes
- Menu plan – breakfast, lunches and supper
- Laundry – karate, fencing, swimming, dance and gymnastics (etc) outfits are ready for the week
- Prepare any school assignments due that week
- Give allowance and set goals for the week
Things to Do The Night Before For an Awesome Morning
We’re just as busy as the next family with 9 extra-curriculars plus two family commitments every week, so I get that adding more stuff to the already jam-packed evening routines can feel counter-intuitive but it really does make for smoother mornings – and then with smoother mornings, evenings get easier, too because everyone is happier!
Something that has transformed my mornings is ensuring that I clean my work spaces plus the kitchen and dining room before I go to bed. I can’t tell you how much nicer it is to wake up to a “clean slate” and not have to dedicate the first half hour of waking to cleaning up or trying to find things in the jumble of mess from the night before.
- Pick out outfits and place in a special spot or basket
- Bathe or shower
- Brush and braid long hair (reduces night time tangles and morning tears)
- Unpack backpacks and clean out lunchboxes
- Go through homework, notes home, etc and deal with them right away
- Everyone spends 5-10 minutes cleaning up their “spaces”
- Bed ON TIME – I shared a chart below to show recommended sleep by age
One of the most important things is getting the kids to bed on time. I know I can feel like between extra-curriculars, supper and clean-up that we only get 30 minutes of connection time per night, and it’s tempting to allow our kids to stay up a bit later so we can spend time together… however, that creates more problems in the morning and is not a healthy, long-term solution.
If we’re not getting enough time together in the evenings, we need to look at reducing extra-curriculars, streamlining our supper process (perhaps looking into plan-overs, Instant Pot meals, etc) or how we can use the limited time we have to really connect – for example, pulling out a board game or eating at the table instead of turning on the TV.
This small priority shift has impacted our family in a big way.
I hope sharing it with you helps you on your journey to creating an easier, happier morning for your family. Please let me know if you try this and any hiccups or challenges that you may encounter so we can work together to make this shift easier for all parents committed to more connected mornings.
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