You wake up at the very last minute possible to give yourself just enough time to get ready and then get the kids ready and it seems like you’re the only one with any concept of how time actually works. You’re late, the kids are late, everyone’s late and someone’s probably crying…
The kids can’t find a shoe, still haven’t brushed their teeth, and if any one thing goes sideways the entire morning comes crashing down…
And then we send our kids to school. Ship them away for the day (or now maybe we ship them to a computer screen for remote learning) and that’s how everyone’s day starts.
It’s the morning rush. It comes 5 days a week and we fight through it Monday through Friday. What we don’t realize is that the morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day and for our kids it can an incredible difference in how their day plays out.
What we don’t typically realize is how much of an opportunity the mornings really are (see last week’s post Parenting by Opportunity). We don’t realize that our rushed mornings with quick good bye’s and the go-go-go mentality is the foundation of how we are setting up the days for our kids.
Think about it, we start their day with a, “let’s go, hurry up, come on!” and we top it off with a list of directions to get them on track. We shove a bowl of cereal in their face that’s crammed with sugar and then we check in on them every 5 minutes, “Is your jacket on? Did you brush? Is your bookbag packed? Are your shoes on?“
What we don’t do is empathize with this situation. We don’t think about what our day would be like if we were in their shoes, what it’s like being rushed around and only having a bowl of sugar to eat before we have to go to a place where we’re told more of what to do, tested for our abilities, and then try and attempt to navigate a forced social life.
As parents we can do so much better if we stop and take a second to do it and it doesn’t take much either. When we really stop to consider how valuable the mornings can really be we realize there is an enormous amount of missed opportunity there, BUT there are some things we can do to really cash in on this time.
For starters, we can wake ourselves up a few minutes earlier. Even fifteen minutes earlier can make an incredible difference in the morning routine and if you really think about it, are you going to be any more rested than you were with fifteen more minutes?
We can also wake the kids up a little earlier. I’ve found this actually works really great even though it seems like it would be harder. When I wake them up I give them time to get up at their own pace. They don’t have to rush out of bed and the first thing they see is me rushing them. Instead they can wake up gently and get moving.
The next thing we can do in the mornings is provide something better to eat than a bowl full of sugar. I don’t see how we can expect our kids to perform at school during the day when they load up on cereal in the morning. There’s better ways to give your kids the energy that they need to stay focused at school if they are going to perform well (read Rocket’s Need Rocket Fuel).
A morning checklist also does wonders for the kids that can’t seem to remember everything they need to do or stay on track. When I have my kids write a checklist the night before of everything they need to do in the morning they typically end up getting it all done with time to spare. For whatever reason, they really focus in on the list and get things done. It’s great!
And finally, the number one thing you can do that is the MOST IMPORTANT thing if you are going to do anything, do this one thing, is to talk to your kids in the morning. Just take a few minutes to talk to them about how they slept. What they think their day is going to be like. What they want to do later that day after school. Just talk to them because while life is long, childhood is short.
I hope this helps give you some fresh ideas on how to make mornings a way to super charge your kids for the day! If you have any tips or advice on how to take advantage of mornings let me know in the comments!