Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Parenting with a Purpose: Stress free Mornings

Today is day 4 of my Parenting with a Purpose series, with Intentional Living and I wanted to share some practical tips for parents to have mornings that are as less stressful as possible.

I am the kind of mom that waits till I hear my kiddos wake up, then I roll out of bed.  My son starts school in the Fall and I have joked with my husband, "Then, I have to grow up."  I will need to be on a tight schedule to make sure everyone is fed, dressed and ready for the day.  We are actually not for sure on what we are doing yet, we may do public, private, Christian or home school.  We are praying and waiting on God to show us what is going to be the best choice for Drew.

In saying all of that I have started implementing new things in our routine to get us ready for success.  I have found what works and what doesn't.  Good friends have offered suggestions and ideas so I want to take what I am learning and share a few quick tips with you today.  Let's get ready for some stress free mornings mamas and daddies!

1)  Get some time with God in.  I will be honest here, I am not the type to get up early for my quiet time, I REALLY am not a morning person, hence the rolling out of bed at first noise.  But, I do try to grab my bible reading plan on my phone and read the verse of the day or a Psalms before I make my morning appearance.  I have a few friends who love to get up with their hot cup of coffee and spend 30 minutes to an hour with the Lord before anyone else is up.  I hope to be like that one day, there is value in fueling up before starting the race, but if you are like me and can't make that early morning happen read one verse, pray for your day before your feet hit the floor, put the praise music on in the kitchen while you are making breakfast, read your bible at the breakfast table, engage your kids in a family devotion or kids bible story.  Any way you can connect with the creator of the world is going to be a great start to your day.  Everyone has their own routine, find out what works for you.  My longer quiet time is usually after breakfast when my kids are playing or watching their favorite show, make time to be refreshed in His presence- alone if possible, it is imperative to a stress free start to the day.

2) Prep the kitchen the night before.  The kitchen is grand central station.  My friend Maria recently told me a great tip, to take a few minutes each night to pick up the kitchen and it will make a huge difference in the morning.  So of course, I had to try this.  Sure enough in under 10 minutes I had my kitchen go from sloppy to spotless.  I have been doing this as soon as the kiddos are down, while I still have momentum going, because once I hit to couch, it is over!!

What this does is get you set for the morning.  You have a clean slate to work with, makes preparation of meals and clean up WAY easier, and honestly it feels wonderful to wake up to.
*Measure out your coffee and water, have it in the pot, ready to flip the switch in the morning.
*Unload the dishwasher, and load any unwashed dishes.
*Put away random clutter on the counter.
*Make lunches for husband (this will save on costly fast food) kids and yourself (if you struggle with healthy eating, this is a great time to plan ahead what you will eat instead of picking off the kids plates.)

 Every little thing you can do to make your morning run as smooth as possible is WELL worth it!

3)  Pick out clothes & have bags packed the night before.  This is pretty self explanatory.  If you have independent kids they may like to pick out their own outfits, or a "helps" kid may want your help with deciding.  Either way lay them out and explain to them where to put their dirty pajamas and when you expect them dressed by.  After breakfast, or before they come out of their room in the morning?  You decide, and make sure you follow through with them until it becomes a habit.  Also, be sure to go through their back pack with them, address any return slips, find library books, check the calendar for anything due, be sure homework is completed and everything is all set to leave in the morning.  If you home school be sure to have work set up for the next day, projects assembled, or bags packed for an outing.

4) Have a routine in place and make sure everyone is familiar with it.  This creates order and peace in a home, there are no surprises, everyone knows what is expected of them, and in turn there are less arguments.  My friend Holly shared with me what she has her boys do each morning before they leave for school, some is done after breakfast, some before again you decide what is expected in your family.  Some realistic expectations are:
* Everyone makes their own beds
* Pajamas in the laundry
* Toys in bedroom picked up
* Teeth brushed
* Hair brushed
* Lunch packed in back pack
* Shoes & Coats on

5)  Less commands, more questions.  This final tip ties into my Prepare for Success post.  People don't like to be bossed around, I mean, do you?  Perhaps there would be less struggles in our homes and mornings especially, when we are running around at top speed, if we just phrased things differently.  For example, instead of saying to Drew "Hey go get your shoes on we are leaving" which is sometimes met with hesitation, I have changed my phrase to: " Hey Drew, we have to leave now, what do you need to put on before we get in the car?"  "My Shoes!" He says emphatically and runs over and he does it.  Then it is his idea, he has to think logically for himself, and he doesn't feel like he is constantly being commanded to do everything.  Now there is a time for telling your children to do something, and they should be expected to do it, without hesitation, but I have found the less opportunities for a struggle, the better.  This is especially true for strong willed children.  It may take a bit more creativity and work on your part, but it takes way less energy than having to discipline or get in an argument with your child does.

So that is what I have for you.  Just a little energizing, pre-planning, organizing, preparation and creativity and your mornings will be running smooth before you know it.  I hope these tips will help you and bless your family like it has done for us! Thanks for stopping by today!

Now I would love to hear from you!  How do you get your morning started right?  Anything you do differently to create a smooth start to the day?

Click here to read more blogs from the Intentional Living series, there are some GREAT topics & authors contributing: