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How To Start the Morning Right for Moms

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Mornings set the tone for your whole day. Try these ways to not only to keep the coffee from drenching a new diaper while you dress another child, but to make the time ahead as joyful and efficient as possible.

Prepare the Night Before

a mom going through a clothes dresser

Not being a morning person, I often find the key to a smooth morning is to prep the night before: taking a shower, laying out clothes (mine and the kids’), making lunches, taking care of urgent emails, making arrangements for playdates, doing laundry and dishes and cleaning up toys. If I can start the day uncluttered and with most tasks done, it sets my mind at ease.

Make 'You' Time

a mom having a coffee while looking out the window

Everyone needs a moment of "me" time to get the day started. For parents, that’s tricky. My me time includes a little extra sleep. For others, it means getting up early to check email, get on Facebook, shower, have coffee, exercise, or eat before getting the kids up. If you’re having a truly lucky morning, you might even be able to squeeze in early morning sex! Whatever that moment is, take it; you might not get any more the rest of the day.

Pad Your Time

a wooden clock showing the time

Most days parents and kids have somewhere to be in the morning. So for me, a time cushion is critical. I set my alarm 15 minutes early to take my time rising. My pre-schooler inevitably finds ways to procrastinate and get distracted while getting dressed and my toddler might decide this is the morning she doesn’t want her diaper changed. We allow for an hour and a half from the time they get up to walking out the door. On good days, this means we can spend a few extra minutes together at breakfast.

Know the Weather

a toddler holding an umbrella

This is one of the big factors that can mess up a morning. If you set out a sweater and it turns out shorts are best, it can be a game-changer. It also might mean extra time spent putting on outdoor clothing. Check the weather report the night before and again before the kids get up. A perfectly excellent morning was ruined recently when the cold, windy rain meant three trips back to get umbrellas, gloves and boots; we were fifteen minutes late and so was a third of my son’s class.

Avoid Low Blood Sugar

a bunch of cheerios shaped in a heart

Mornings used to be a giant nightmare with my son often crying and screaming. We started to notice that he was much better after having breakfast, so we tried an experiment of bringing a snack cup with pretzels and Cheerios into his room when we went to get him dressed. The drama decreased significantly as he snacked just enough to boost his blood sugar until we got to breakfast. This could also be true of parents; we are not immune.

Have a Routine

a mom and her daughter having breakfast together

Kids (and adults) often respond well to having morning rituals. No day will be the same, but having a skeleton upon which to hang everything will keep things moving. For us, our alarm goes off and then our son comes in. We get dressed, the kids get dressed. This is followed by brushing teeth and breakfast. Then we take vitamins and medicine and pack up to leave. This structure helps us remember what we’ll need for the hours ahead and cuts down on the unexpected.

Make It a Game

a mom grabbing something from her moms hand

I've found that creating games within the context of getting ready in the morning can sometimes be successful. Giving kisses between each piece of clothing a child puts on; seeing how fast (time it!) he can put on his jacket; singing songs while brushing teeth. Anything to make it more fun and enjoyable.

Eat Breakfast

a bowl of yogurt and granola with fruit

There is the old wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I've never truly believed that, but I do think it's helpful. We sit down with our kids to eat breakfast, taking into account that we are setting a good example by what we eat and that we eat breakfast at all. Many schools or daycares serve a morning meal on site, and some parents give their little ones breakfast on the road. Wherever it takes place, make sure it's healthy and substantial enough for both of you—most nutritionists say it should include some combo of protein, fats, and carbs.

Remember What Day It Is

a mom writing something on a notepad

Funny as it sounds, taking note of the calendar and what's due to happen is one of those little things can keep the morning from slipping in chaos. My son has swim class on Thursday mornings, so we need to put a bathing suit on him. When he has class trips, the school occasionally asks us to pack lunch differently and arrive earlier. Remembering the extra thing when you’re halfway out the door can crash an otherwise smooth morning.

Keep on Truckin’

a mom checking her daughters temperature

Some crazy mornings are a normal part of life: uncontrollable, highly frustrating, and potentially day-wrecking. The car doesn’t start, or your child suddenly throws up. Instead of crawling back into bed like you want to, do damage control. Can you borrow someone else’s car? How can you arrange childcare? After that, continue moving through your morning routine. Make physical and mental notes about what will need to be done to manage the situation. But the most important thing is to take a few deep breaths, accept that you're human and, if there are mistakes, remember that tomorrow is another day.

 
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