Mornings are rough for parents, period – the end. Ok, well maybe not the end just yet, but they kind of suck. Whether your children are infants, toddlers, grade-schoolers, tweens or teenagers, they're either up before the sun, up before you're even close to being ready to open an eye, or you spend all morning trying to drag them from their bed to your car. It can be rough.
I'm a mother of two boys, ages three and seven. The three year old is up before I am, and the seven year old is asking if it's Saturday yet. Since one is in preschool and the other is in second grade, and mom and dad both work, you could say our mornings have tended look something like 5 natural disasters all happening at once. Not pretty.
Once I began working and realizing that not even two hours of preparation in the morning would get everyone's needs met by myself, I had to come up with a plan.
I had to become the house manager and get serious about the tasks at hand. Momma wasn't playin'!
Here are some helpful tips on how to manage your mornings with ease:
The Almighty Whiteboard:
The dry-erase whiteboard has been a saving grace in keeping my family organized. I spend ten minutes each month placing all of our important activities on a calendar that I've created on the whiteboard. Soccer practices, minimum days, back to school night, play dates, and Saturday games; they're all there. I save a spot in each square of the calendar to add more if the stress Gods deem me worthy, and they usually do. I'm able to glance at that calendar every evening and know what to prepare for the next day. It gives us OCD parents relief and comfort seeing the stress written down rather than running our brains into a mental brick wall.
Let's not forget the grocery lists, and things to remember are so easy to jot down and erase when completed.
Prepare the Night Before:
I know, after dinner, clean-up, bath time, and bed time, who's got time or energy to prepare? If you knew you'd gain a more restful night's sleep and possibly be able to hit the snooze button one more time in the AM, would that persuade you to spend a little more time prepping the night before?
Knowing that I have my own list of tasks to complete, and my children's as well, it makes the morning anything but easy. It definitely doesn't allow me the most peaceful night's rest either. My mind races and I'm often left feeling regretful if I don't complete some of those tasks ahead of time.
So once the house is quiet and the kid's are asleep, get to one of your To-Do Lists and cross some tasks off. Making lunches and picking the kids' clothes out the night before can aid in the success of your morning. Getting yourself organized will not only make you sleep better, you'll likely wake up feeling more confident in getting through the morning with less stress and a little extra time for the unexpected. And we all know there's a lot more of those than we allow time for.
Delegate Tasks to Your Children:
If you have kids that can understand cause and effect, you can delegate a chore into their morning routine. My seven year old is in charge of taking his pajamas off, putting them into the hamper, getting himself dressed, and getting his shoes on. It's an easy task that won't require your assistance if he understands the basic concept. My three year old puts on his own (slip-on) shoes and throws away any garbage accumulated during breakfast time. Although it may seem small, it might save you those few extra minutes you need to get out of the door on time.
And let's not forget that it teaches our children to be responsible, independent and gives them an opportunity to participate in the family unit.
Delegate Tasks to Your Spouse:
Why let the kids have all the fun of responsibility when you can get your spouse involved, too? I used to be one of those moms who thought she could do it all in the morning and not feel stressed out. After I started working, I quickly came to my senses and realized the unrealistic expectation I was placing on myself I needed to ask for help. I know it's not always that easy for everyone, especially single parents and that might require more preparation the night before, but it's amazing how much time is saved if your spouse makes the lunches, dresses the kids, or feeds them their breakfast.
What I found out is that my spouse was happy to help, he had just thought I had it all under control and liked things done my way.
Communicate what you need from each family member and get everyone involved.
Most days our mornings run pretty smoothly thanks to our routine, but we have those days where nothing seems to go right and we feel doomed from the get-go. They happen to the best of us, but hopefully these tips are helpful in aiding easier mornings in your house.
Alison Chrun is a wife and mother of two who writes about parenting, relationships and self-development on her blog Appetite for Honesty. She is currently receiving her Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.