by Aubrey Tyson
As parents, we are perpetually looking for the things we are doing right and the things we are doing wrong. It's second nature the minute you find out you're going to be a parent. Let's find all the books and articles! I know that was the case during both of my pregnancies. It's almost as though the minute you learn about that little bean, you are in search of validation, knowing full well there isn't a handbook when it comes to having and raising children.
I learned early on that what works for one child, absolutely does not work for the other and vice versa. It's always trial and error, even on the easiest of days. When books, articles, and trial-and-error runs fail, I often turn to friends and family to ask for advice on how to deal with life's insane moments.
There is one common theme discussed around those sacred circles, and it relates to morning routines — or lack thereof.
Much like bedtime, morning routines can be taxing and stressful as a parent. If you have one child or an entire baseball team for a family, getting everyone up and out the door can be exhausting, even for the most seasoned and patient parent.
Whether you are looking for validation that you are doing the right thing or are on a desperate search for help, below are some of my favorite tips for successful morning routines.
Connect with your child
I'm a big fan of this one. Every morning when the teen is getting ready, I spend time with my four-year-old cuddling on the couch while I drink coffee, and she watches her latest obsession on Netflix. It's not a lot of time, but it's enough to where we can breathe and relax before jumping into the morning list of things she must do. On the mornings where we don't have time for our little ritual, there is a noticeable difference in her behavior and her ability to follow instructions. Children long for connection and those ten minutes we share help her feel comfortable and confident as she starts her day. For my teen, it’s giving her the space to do her own thing and make her own decisions. Stretching to feel independent, I try to guide her along rather than shout out a list of orders for her to follow. Just as with my toddler, the days where I don’t follow this train of thought, we get into arguments and she goes off to school annoyed and upset.
Take care of yourself
This one can be tough. There are days when I set my alarm for 5 a.m., hoping to shower, get dressed, and check my emails before a single soul is awake in the house. Some days it works. Other days, I hear running feet through the house at 5:30 and a question of why I'm awake in the dark. Despite the inconsistency of this tactic, taking care of yourself and getting ready first can minimize the stress of your morning routine. It also gives you time to clear your head and focus on just being you, the person, not the parent. When you focus on yourself, you are inherently more at peace and in turn, feel more confident taking care of others.
Prepare… and then prepare some more
The key to a successful morning routine is preparation the night before. Raise your hand if you've ever heard that phrase! Although there tends to be an eye-roll with this tip, it's a tried and true method to getting ready for the next day. From laying clothes out to making sure lunches and backpacks are packed, preparing for tomorrow helps take one more item off of your morning to-do list. As your children get older, involve them in this task. Instead of telling them what to do, ask them “What should you do?”. Asking instead of demanding allows them to think, problem solve, and most importantly, feel more in control of their little world.
Have one place for everything
This tip is a recent one I stumbled on, and when I read it, I felt silly for not implementing it earlier. The advice is easy. Have one place for everything related to your kids and their school days. All backpacks, school bags, shoes, coats, sports gear, folders, etc. Putting all the various items in one place simplifies the process and ensures that the blue folder your daughter needs for her class tomorrow isn't buried under a pile clothes or stuffed under the bed. It may sound tiresome at first, tracking it all down at night and organizing it, but it truly saves time and energy in the morning when you can scoop everything up and get out the door. As with the preparation tip, involve your children in this step too. Teaching them to organize and keep track of their belongings will instill lifelong practices they can use as college students and later on in their adult life.
Keep your calm
As a parent, I can attest to the mornings where none of this works. What starts as a "we'll conquer the morning" attitude, quickly turns into a screaming match with one or both of my children followed by me consuming 1,000 calories in pastries and coffee at Starbucks while I try to work, staring off into space thinking of all of the ways I'm a terrible mother. It's an obvious point that keeping your calm in these difficult situations can help alleviate the headache, but I would also like to note that it's ok to have a terrible go of it and end the morning sobbing into a large cup of coffee. We try our best and start again tomorrow.
Aubrey Tyson — Aubrey is a lover of wine, working out, reading, and all things Gilmore Girls and Target. She has a deep passion for writing, travel, and the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Mother of two and wife, she takes life one day at a time while reveling in the chaos of family life.