It’s the dreaded school run and killer early morning routine that leaves swathes of parents up and down the country ready to burst a blood vessel or two and wondering if they are living in some sort of Groundhog Day. The repetitive commands are enough to send even the most composed parents totally loopy.
I know for me, the stress I feel about the children potentially being late for school sends me into complete orbit as I watch the demon digital clock move at the speed of light. I have nightmares about the thought of the kids walking into school after the 9am register and all the little faces turning round to look on disapprovingly (I am sure this is a buried childhood memory of mine somewhere) I also seem to get the sweats just thinking about being labelled as the mother who can’t get her S**T together. Even though I tell myself I don’t care what other people think.
As parents we really are all in this together, we all seem to go through the same scrabble trying to maintain calm and order in our increasingly hectic family lives. There are the occasional days where you just feel like you are swimming against a very high and judgemental tide – but in reality, we can sometimes be our own worst critic.
If you feel like you are knee deep in chaos then it’s time to take stock, reflect and explore ways in which you can bring order back into your family life, starting with the morning routine on school days.
Not only does the school routine require ‘instant energy’ from the minute you wake up but also immense creativity into how to ‘chivvy’ along your kids without any major upsets which we all know can trigger stubborn episodes and either a staring contest, a shouting match, reprimands or pleading.
You can plan and organise until the cows come home the night before and get straight back at it at the crack of dawn – bag packed, uniform laid out, shoes ready to slip on, toothpaste on the brush and even breakfast all ready to eat but we know, deep down that how the morning pans out can be a total ‘unknown’ where kids are involved.
We have a few suggestions below that we hope may give you a few ideas for smoother mornings to come:
Early To Bed For You And The Kids
Staying patient when you’ve been deprived of sleep is an almost impossible challenge. Mix that with grumpy kiddies who are also finding it hard to function on lack of sleep and you have a recipe for a ‘helluva’ morning.
Short tempers, stubbornness, raised blood pressure, tears (and that’s just you) are to name but a few of the ways lack of sleep can manifest itself. Ensuring that your children have enough sleep and that you have enough sleep is vital if you want the day to start off in the best way possible. Yes, coffee can help give you a little lift but it’s not magic!
Factor In Some Contingency
There’s nothing quite like getting your kids ready when you aren’t dressed yourself. It’s a just asking for trouble. As hard as it is, try to ensure you are dressed, ready and have taken a few deep breaths to centre yourself emotionally before you interact with your children. They regulate their moods by your mood so starting off ‘chipper’ is part of the battle won.
Prepare The Night Before
Doing the bulk of the work and getting prepped the night before will most definitely save you some time in the morning. Why not get the children to help you with some small tasks so they feel part of the process? Perhaps they could lay the table for breakfast before bed or how about getting their shoes lined up by the front door ready to go? Giving them praise in the morning for the way they helped organise their things, helping to make getting to school on time easier will go a long way in encouraging participation and willingness in the future.
Don’t Forget To Snuggle
Transform your morning by having a little bit of ‘snuggle time’ before the routine starts. I’ve often met my daughter at the bottom of the stairs with my arms outstretched ready for a cuddle, then carried her as she hugs my neck tightly and plonked her on the sofa. She giggles and it just sets off the morning with a smile and it offers her a way to feel connected to me after being apart all night. When you have multiple children it’s so easy for one to feel a little pushed out, if you think about it, from their perspective, they have been separated from you throughout the night so reconnecting in this way will set you all up with a full heart and a willingness to please rather than to fight it all. If you can’t manage a full on snuggle then simply holding hands or giving them a squeeze and a kiss here and there will more than suffice.
When you have multiple children it’s so easy for one to feel a little pushed out, if you think about it, from their perspective, they have been separated from you throughout the night so reconnecting in this way will set you all up with a full heart and a willingness to please rather than to fight it all. If you can’t manage a full on snuggle then simply holding hands or giving them a squeeze and a kiss here and there will more than suffice.
Assist Don’t Bark
Children need assistance in the morning to move through the routine. I hold my hands up and admit that my default position depending on how stressed I feel is to ‘bark orders’ at the older two and repeat the command until they do what I want but I need this to change for my own sanity and also in respect for how it must make them feelI am choosing to re-frame how I see my role, I have chosen to take on the role of their ‘assistant’ for an hour which keeps things just a little bit calmer and certainly creates a happier space. I may even get them to mark my helpfulness out of ten!
I am choosing to re-frame how I see my role, I have chosen to take on the role of their ‘assistant’ for an hour which keeps things just a little bit calmer and certainly creates a happier space. I may even get them to mark my helpfulness out of ten!
I read somewhere that your children getting dressed isn’t ‘their priority’ it’s yours! You want them to go to school so it’s your job to get them there and on time. Ouch! True though…
Sometimes giving choices to your children allows them to feel in control. Does it matter if they brush their teeth in the bathroom or at the kitchen sink as long as their teeth get brushed? This little change of ceding control can make a big difference to the flow in the morning. Kids love choices.
Keep It Simple
This one goes against the grain a little as we all like things to be just so but with kids sometimes keeping things simple and letting go about having things just so, can make a massive difference. I’d prefer it if my kids ate breakfast at the table and all together but not every child wants to eat the minute they wake up.
In some instances, I’ve allowed my 6-year old daughter to eat in the car on the way to school, not always but sometimes. I’ve also ‘occasionally’ dropped my toddler off at pre-school in his pyjamas with a change of clothes due to him kicking up a huge fuss and throwing a major wobble when trying to get him dressed. Choosing your battles is the point here. If he’s happy, I’m happy so what’s the harm? Simples…
Be Ruthless & Prioritise
A child depends on their parent’s good mood to be able to regulate their own mood. Modern life puts such pressure on parents that it can make coping with the myriad of tasks throughout the day incredibly stressful and challenging which in turn takes its toll on our emotions.
It’s vital that we remember what our priorities are.
When it all boils down to what’s important, the priority is in fact to create a loving and calm environment for your children to grow and thrive. If each day is different with kids, preparing yourself first is critical to keeping your stress levels manageable. What’s important is your kids and you how you feel and cope first and foremost, everything else comes after that. Emotionally centring yourself and tackling the day when fully ready yourself will make connecting to your children ‘sunnier’ and with a heart that spilleth over.
What’s important is your kids and you how you feel and cope first and foremost, everything else comes after that. Emotionally centring yourself and tackling the day when fully ready yourself will make connecting to your children ‘sunnier’ and with a heart that spilleth over.
Grab a cuppa and a biscuit and reflect on how amazing you truly are and how amazingly prepared and calm you are going to be, come tomorrow morning. YOU ROCK!