6 Cures for Morning Madness
By Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos for Healthy Kids from Teeth to Feet
Mornings with kids may be the most tiring part of the day, but parents often make it worse by getting caught in a cycle of nagging and yelling. Without meaning to, they train kids to expect to hear multiple times what they need to do to get ready.
“If you’re yelling at your kids, and things aren’t changing, then they’re not the slow learners here,” says Ann Pleshette Murphy, author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood: Loving Your Life without Losing Your Mind.
A certain amount of morning craziness is inevitable, but you can control it with a little detective work and planning. “Step outside the circus ring and figure out which of the acrobats is tripping you up,” says Murphy. Then, with your family’s help, ritualize the process of preparation. Here’s how:
Morning Madness Cure No. 1:
Start the day before, not the night before. The moment your kids get home from school (or as soon as you get home from work), begin organizing for the next morning, suggests certified professional organizer Kristi Meyer. Pull homework and lunch boxes out of their backpacks immediately. While you make dinner, have the kids pick out their snacks for the next day’s lunch. Make the rest of their lunch then and clean up just once.
Morning Madness Cure No. 2:
Set the stage. After the dinner dishes are cleared, ask your kids to set the table for breakfast. Before bed, have (or help) them lay out their clothes for the next day. Put their coats, boots and backpacks (with completed homework) in their designated spot (yes, you should have one) so they won’t have to hunt them down in the morning.
Morning Madness Cure No. 3:
Tuck them in on time. Set an early bedtime so they get enough sleep to wake up focused and energized.
Morning Madness Cure No. 4:
Beat the crowds. Get up at least 15 minutes before your kids do so you have a few minutes alone — with your coffee — to prepare for the day. You’ll be better able to cope when the mad dash begins.
Morning Madness Cure No. 5:
Give them enough time. Set the alarm for your kids at a time that allows them to complete their morning routine comfortably. Build in some cushion for them to chill out or cuddle with you too. A lot of morning dawdling or crankiness is really a cry for connection, says Murphy.
Morning Madness Cure No. 6:
Limit the breakfast options. Create a weekly menu or a small list of choices, such as yogurt and granola, healthy cereal with fruit, or hard-boiled eggs and toast. You can even prepare smoothie ingredients ahead and store them in the refrigerator overnight. Keep it simple. Few decisions make for peaceful mornings.
Adding controls can greatly reduce morning madness and nagging. Be patient, though: New routines require explanation and practice. Think ahead and get your children involved. Then prepare to have a great day!
Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos has written for numerous publications and websites, including Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple and iVillage.com.