5 Strategies for a Stress-free Morning Routine with Young Children
Mornings can be a challenge for many of us, especially after we’ve hit the snooze button one time too many. Mornings can be especially challenging when you have young children, one or more who may struggle with going to school or resists essential morning tasks, such as going on the potty, brushing their teeth or picking out their outfit for the day.
When we as parents are met with resistance, it can cause tensions to rise and stress levels to reach their tipping point. As parents, we are faced with so many responsibilities at once- making sure our children are fed, packed for school, safely buckled into their car seats, and dropped off at school in a timely fashion, all while we are also trying to remember tasks for the day, our own daily hygiene and finding that lost sock from last week’s laundry.
Start Out Calm
Starting your day with a calm, stress-free morning routine is key to having a productive day as well as taking care of our mental and emotional health. For many parents, mornings can be chaotic and overwhelming, requiring the use of more than one distress tolerance skill. But with a little bit of organization and planning, you can create a stress-free morning routine that works for you and your family and promotes a sense of structure that will enhance morning flow.
In this blog post we will review 7 strategies to promote a (close to) stress-free morning routine that will make these morning tasks manageable and consistent. While it cannot be promised that the initial transition to implementing this routine will be completely fine-tuned and smooth, there is some reassurance in knowing that these strategies can be adapted as needs change.
Let’s review these strategies and consider how to adapt them to your own family’s daily functions and tasks:
- Pack lunches and snacks the night before or lay out the necessary cups and containers (already labeled if required) needed for the next day so that you are not scrambling looking for the misplaced lid in a frenzy 5 minutes before you are expected to be out the door.
- Have your child choose their outfit the night before or you can have your child choose their outfits for the entire week over the weekend to prevent stress the morning of. Often children will have strong opinions about what they wear- color, character or texture can be deal breakers. It might be helpful to provide your child with two options for a shirt and then you can choose the pants and socks yourself. Consider what is most important for your child when they choose their outfit and let that guide you.
- Consider printable daily routine cards with visual images. Magnetic cards or ones with velcro can be easily used to help visually organize your child’s morning and provide a structure that your child can reference as often as needed. These visual cues are especially helpful for children who are visual learners or respond well to visual reminders instead of verbal ones.
- Account for at least 45 minutes for your children to get from their bed to the car. While you may be able to cut this time down, it may be easier for your child to ease into their day at a comfortable pace. Often when we are rushing around and frenzied, this can add the the anxiety of the morning.
- Limit use of technology and screen time until after school. For young children and even adults, it can be difficult to peel their eyes away from the tv screen when it is time to get moving to school. While it may be tempting to sit your child in front of a laptop or tv screen while you are preparing for the day, remember the challenges as well. Screen time can also impact a child’s focus and can impair their ability to concentrate on other tasks expected of them.
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