Morning can be a very stressful time in a busy household. Family members rush to get ready for work or school, to get little ones off to daycare, and to try and find everything they need to take with them when they go.
It is important to remember that not all people respond the same way to mornings. Some may be early risers who wake up refreshed and ready for the day. Others may take a little longer to wake and need some extra time to transition from sleep.
It can be hard for someone who is a "morning person" to understand the struggles of a family member who is not. When you are aware of your own tendencies and those of the rest of the family, it is easier to find ways to work together for a successful morning.
To keep the morning running smoothly, it is necessary for everyone to have a restful sleep. If you find that you or your child regularly has difficulty getting up and ready on time, consider moving to a slightly earlier bedtime. You might also try to stagger wake-up times to give everyone a chance to start the day at his or her own pace.
It can be helpful to prepare as much as possible the night before. Have your children decide what they would like to wear and lay the clothes out. Make sure homework is completed and backpacks are ready to go. You could even pack any lunches that will be needed for the following day and leave them in the fridge.
Allow time for a relaxed breakfast, even if everyone can’t sit down together at the same time. A healthy, unrushed morning meal gives everyone the fuel needed to start the day off right.
If small children are up early, provide something for them to do while everyone else gets ready. Keep a basket of toys and books to be used especially for mornings, and change the contents frequently.
School-aged children can take on a great deal of the responsibility for getting themselves ready, and a morning routine chart can help. Talk with your child about what needs to be done in the morning, and work together to make a check list.
Include self-care steps like brushing teeth and household responsibilities such as making the bed. Then you can ask your child how she is doing throughout the morning rather than constantly telling her what needs to be done, or finding out at the last minute that she has forgotten something.
A little bit of preparation and planning can go a long way in taking the stress out getting ready each morning. While it won’t guarantee a perfect day, it feels good when everyone can leave the house in the morning on a positive note.
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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