So your household is into the swing of schooldays now, and your kids are getting used to their teachers. The faster pace of life is smoothing out as the days get cooler. You just wish you could make mornings a bit more peaceful.
It isn't so hard. You know most of these ideas, but making them habits can change your life. Here are
Get everyone -- including you -- to sleep early the night before. That's the #1 Secret of Peaceful, Happy mornings! Just keep moving bedtime (for all of you!) back until everyone is rested and happy in the morning.
Create a morning routine that you always follow, so everyone is in sync. Print out a schedule and post it. Then, when kids dawdle, just point to the schedule. "It's time for brushing teeth now." (Check the Tip of the Week from August 4, 2008 for ideas on an Evening Routine.) If your kids are too young to read, use pictures.
Set everything out the night before. That means all schoolbags packed and ready to go, complete with lunch money, gym clothes, musical instruments. Lunches made in the fridge. Your bag packed (cell phone still charging? Put a note on your bag!). Everyone's clothes out on their chairs.
Get up ten minutes earlier than your kids and find something to be grateful for. If I didn't have my coffee first, there's no way I would be a good mom in the morning. We all need our grounding to be the parents our kids deserve. If we're grateful, we communicate to our kids that life is good, even if we don't say a word.
Give each person in your family a sweet good morning hug as soon as you see them.
Feed everyone a breakfast with some protein. Kids who eat breakfast do better in school, get along better with other kids, and maintain appropriate weights for their age. If your kids are bored with cold cereal, try toast with peanut butter or cheese melted on it, yogurt with granola and berries, muffins you made the night before, pasta leftovers, or a simply smoothie.
Try putting on quiet music instead of the TV. Studies show that households that don't turn the TV on in the morning are more peaceful. If your kids can read, let them read at breakfast. If they can't, they'll enjoy the music.
Stay positive and cheerful to set a calm tone. If someone in your family gets stressed, smile, hug them and say "You forgot about X? It's ok, we'll figure this out." That evening, talk with your child about how to remember such things in the future.
If your child gets distracted by a toy, say "We always get ready first before we play." Point to the schedule and ask "What do you need to do now?" Eventually your kids will create positive morning habits and will be able to keep themselves on track.
Hug everyone in your family goodbye and tell them you love them. (Research shows that men who kiss their wives goodbye in the morning live longer, earn more, and are happier. While there is no data yet on how this applies to parents and kids, you can bet I kiss my kids, as well as my husband, goodbye!)
Dr. Laura Markham