Let's face it...mornings can be rough. It's 7:45am and the toddler is making a mess on the floor, 2 other kids screech through the kitchen asking for permission slips and wanting to know where their cleats are, your husband or partner is racing out to catch the train for work, and then there is you...tired, but trying to finish making some sandwiches and check your phone at the same time. More often than not, we run out of time before everyone needed to be happily on their way to work and school. Here's a glimpse into what goes on in my house, some hacks to make things a little more manageable, and my advice for having a smoother morning.
CHECKLISTS. I had my kids create a "Morning Routine" Checklist where THEY decided how much time to spend on morning tasks. PLUS, as a parent, I'm not telling them what to do every two minutes - they refer to the checklist to see what is left to finish. (It doesn't hurt for us adults to do either!)
MORNING CHORE LIST. In my house, each kid has one responsibility in the morning, outside of taking care of themselves and going through their checklists. Feed the dog, pour the juice, prepare water bottles for the day. Chores in the morning are designed to be short and sweet, but also give each kid a feeling of participation in the household morning routine.
KEEP THE PEACE. Music soothes the soul, and also has the power to energize and inspire those that are listening to it. So instead of turning on NPR, start playing a soothing, morning channel on Pandora or Spotify. Music actually makes a significant difference in our ability to stay calm in the rush of the morning.
START AT NIGHT. Getting ready the night before is critical to your success in the morning. Make lunches, set out school items, - don't wait until it's time to leave to pack the backpacks or briefcases, select your clothes, unpack and re-pack the gym bag, leave a reminder note (or set an alarm on your cell phone just in case. Bottom line is...be prepared.
FOCUS. Most of us reach right for the cell phone when we wake up, or jump right into morning mode. Take a few moments to focus on yourself. If you really must know...I practice rolling my eyes. It is a tool my yoga instructor taught me over a decade ago. It helps me to exercise my eye muscles and gently wake them up, but it also helps me focus on myself before I face the demands of the day. Sometimes, I start my eye-rolling exercises before I’ve even opened my eyes for the first time. It helps gently wake them up - assuming a kid hasn’t done that already. After that, I drink a tall glass of water, and I’m ready to go.
“By controlling the eyes, you’re controlling the mind,” says Ananda, a yoga teacher at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, California. “There’s a physical benefit, of course, but there’s a mental benefit as well.”
COMMAND CENTER. We have a home command center at a desk by the front door with action item paperwork, which includes a basket for each person in the house. If someone leaves out homework or their wallet or anything in the living room, it is swooped into their basket every night. Each person knows to check their basket for any missing items. Also, we have a backpack station in the hallway by the front door. (we don’t have the luxury of a mudroom, but this works, too.) Every afternoon, the kids empty their lunch boxes into the kitchen sink, grab their homework, then hang their backpacks on their personal hook. These hooks sit right under the family bulletin board and weekly schedule for the kids.
AVOID THE #1 MISTAKE: Hitting snooze on the alarm clock. First of all, you are not actually getting any more sleep. you are simply laying in guilt. Just get up and start the day - you’ll be happy to have those extra 9 minutes to actually drink your cup of coffee.