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It’s no secret that our days are full of stress. Whether we are the parent tackling problems at work or the child trying to learn in the classroom, we all have to contend with difficult people and challenging situations throughout the day.
Understanding the stress and pressure that awaits our children once they leave the house in the morning gives us even more reason to strive for a peaceful start to the day. Creating a launching pad where everyone can be charged up, ready to tackle the day’s stresses, also reinforces to our kids (and our spouse!) that a safe place will be waiting to soothe their weary selves when they get home.
Sound too good to be true?
Well that all depends. If you’re cramming too much into your family and personal schedules, then I can guarantee that no amount of wizard-like planning or Pinterest-inspired charts will save you from the frantic rush of weekday mornings. Nor will it save you from the inevitable get-me-a-glass-of-wine-STAT! breakdown that happens at the end of the day.
But if your schedules are in check and you’re not trying to cram too much into life, I do believe there are helpful tips that can make weekday mornings smooth and serene.
You can search the Internet for a million “tips” on making weekday mornings less stressful but this isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of problem. That would be like saying you can pick a company from any industry and give them a generic Top Ten list of how to become more profitable. It just doesn’t work that way! To really get the most return on your investment (of time and energy), first start by addressing the specific problems which are causing the most friction in your family’s morning routine and then research solutions.
For example, some of us have no problems packing lunches while for others, it’s the morning deal-breaker. Some of you have every permission slip color-coded in hanging files by the door while the rest of us are pulling our hair out to find Joey’s field trip waiver at the last minute. Take time to think about which aspects of the morning routine really bog you down or elevate the family’s stress levels as you find yourself hollering at everyone while running around in a frantic headless chicken dance.
Once you’ve acknowledged those trigger points, find solutions to the ones that fall solely on you (e.g., wake up earlier so you can be ready for the day before the kids get up).
For the trigger points that are causing frustrations in other members of the family, discuss them as a family and brainstorm solutions for solving them. Even Kindergarteners are old enough for a bi-weekly family meeting and giving kids the responsibility of helping find solutions can motivate them to do their part.
If you or your children are dragging themselves out of bed in the morning, it may be a sign of too little sleep. Start moving bedtime back 15 minutes at a time and if you don’t have one already, develop a bedtime routine that helps tell the body that it’s time to settle. For younger kids, the take a bath/brush your teeth/read a story/have a cuddle routine works well to signal their brain that it’s time to sleep. For older kids and teens, letting them have their own reading time in bed can do the same trick (not screen time, which actually produces the opposite results). Finally, for adults, creating a set routine before bed can dramatically help as well. When struggling with falling asleep, I started doing crosswords. At first, I would get through an entire crossword but over the weeks, as my brain was conditioned to know that crosswords = bedtime, all I had to do was pick up the crossword book and my eyes would start drooping.
Once you’ve tackled your morning trigger points and have implemented solutions, schedule a silly-sounding alarm to go off each weekday morning thereby signalling to the entire family that it’s time to launch! Play around with finding the right amount of warning time that works best for your brood (i.e. some might want the alarm to go off 2-3 minutes before they need to walk out the door while others may need a 10-minute warning).
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