School might be back in full swing, but trying to get everyone out the door each morning, might not be running smoothly quite yet. To help with that, here are a few ways to help get a slightly better handle on the mayhem that can come with the morning rush.
This one might sound obvious but prepping for the morning is more than getting lunches ready, laying out clothes, or checking agendas and backpacks. Prepping can be emotional or psychological and can help lay a strong foundation for the day ahead. For parents this might look like setting aside 10-15 minutes before everyone else wakes up to stretch, read, or have your (first) coffee on the porch and grounding yourself. Getting some time to breathe in fresh air, get a bit of movement, or enjoy some uninterrupted screen time can go a long way in setting the tone for your day and increase your ability to practice patience.
Smooth mornings run on routines. Getting everyone up, onto the bus, to daycare, school or work, can only happens when things run on time. But how can we make the morning panic happen with a little less stress? Plan. But not just on your own, with your kids! Make morning routine visual charts together so there is clear communication about the expectations of everyone and avoid early morning surprises. Come up with agreements about screen time, for example, kids can watch a show (with a timer) once all the morning tasks have been completed. Have planning start the day before by getting bags and lunches unpacked after school, talking about what homework or projects are due, and what activities are happening the next day. Plans that everyone understands, agrees upon, and can put into practice everyday, can make a big difference.
In the midst of all the morning rush, can you find even a few minutes to pause with your child(ren) to find calm and connection before leaving the house? Like adults, when children wake up, they can benefit from engaging in practices that help them feel ready to start the day. Read a short book, talk about their favorite things, lay in bed for a few minutes and cuddle, or find other ways, specific to each child that helps them feel centered. This better enables them to manage things that come up throughout the day because they are starting off with a filled “cup”. The same practices can be utilized after school and before bed at night.
Mornings will rarely go perfectly, but if they can happen with purpose then hopefully they will feel less taxing. By seeing mornings as an opportunity to model stress management skills, connect instead of command, and as a window of time where you can help yourself and others feel more ready to take on the day, then we can work towards minimizing the mayhem and maximizing the calm.
Blog by Registered Psychologist, Megan Adams Lebell