So, as parents what strategies have you put in place to keep yourself sane in the mornings? As you read the tips that I have collected below, you may think to yourself- “well, shit...I already do all of that so now what?”. Remember that we can always approach things differently, even if it is the same “thing” we were doing before. We can come at things from a different perspective by shifting the way we become aware of things. So, here is a list of everyday tricks of the trade from a working mom who has “been there, done that...and more”. Some of these tips may not apply to you or your situation and that is cool too! Take what helps and leave what doesn’t…...
- Get your kids emotionally prepared...NOW for the start of the school year! Slowly start reining in their bedtimes and start getting structure back into their morning routines.
- Get a good night-time routine in place to prepare for the ugly early morning battles like having them get their clothes picked out for the next day, snacks on the table for the morning and spend some time at night talking to them about how things will be once school gets started. This is kinda like what we do with Santa (for those that celebrate Christmas). We start talking about how Santa is watching them from about September through December 23rd of every year. So, to apply this we start saying things like “Remember, when school starts we are going to get everything ready at night for the next day”.
- Everything has its place (in theory) in the house. Get the kids organized by getting them involved in deciding where things go. This gives them a sense of control in their lives. You can do this by giving each of them their own “cubby” or storage box to put things in when they come home from school- nice and cranky!
- Make charts- I know, I know...this is the vane of our existence BUT they actually work as long as we, as parents, follow them. Help your kids feel empowered by having them write their own list (or you can help them cut out pictures from a magazine that represent each task that they need to do in the mornings and at night before they go to bed).
- Tell ‘em you love them! Every morning spend just a few moments telling your kids how much you love them and how awesome they are. You can use your time in the car on the way to carpool or time waiting for the bus to pick them up. Every time we are loving to our kids, they learn the importance of respect, love and kindness! We ALL need to know that we are awesome human beings!
- Make breakfasts DIY style- Have bowls, spoons and cereal out on the table the night before so that when they get up they can get their breakfast ready themselves (leaving you a little bit more time to try and unwrinkle your work clothes or detangle your hair).
- Jam out to some tunes. I am a huge proponent of music (I mean, who doesn’t love jamming out to their favorite tunes?). Use music as a timer- maybe you and the kids create your morning playlist and kids know what they are supposed to be doing during each song (something pre-established between you and the kids, of course).
- Get your ass out of bed earlier! No one is going to like this one but….it can save the day. Get up just 10-15 minutes earlier every morning than you used to do. This gives you a few free minutes to get your head on straight and pry your eyeballs open with toothpicks BEFORE the kids get up and start driving us bonkers. This also means that you should probably try to get to bed a few minutes early than before (I know...you are thinking that there is no way in hell you can get to bed even 5 minutes early but…...you can. You are in charge of yourself! Get to bed earlier.
- Use a positive reward for your kids when they get themselves up and moving and on-time in the mornings without you losing your shit. Talk to them about what rewards they would like if they do a good job! Everyone likes a reward so help them see that positive behavior begets positive rewards. Rewards can be coupons/vouchers for more screen time or whatever you think is appropriate but it is good to have them help you come up with what rewards will work for them. Also, put limits on their rewards because, after all, we all need limits right?
- S.T.F.D.- I am not going to spell this one out but you can google it using Urban Dictionary. Slowwwww the….F…..down. Life is too short. Kids pick up on our anxiety, especially in the morning. Pay attention to how your body is responding each morning. Are you sweating with panic by 7:10am or maybe you are feeling like hot-flashes are coming on waaaaay too early in life or perhaps you keep asking your kids the same questions over and over again because you aren't actually listening to the answers (I am guilty of this one!). Our bodies give us signs that we need to slow it down. We can slow it down by doing a few of the following: take deep breaths (use an app on your phone to give you visual cues on deep breathing), do some self-care every morning (this might mean you don’t look at your emails..I don’t know...until you actually get to work? Yeah, that might work! Find small moments throughout the day to slow the roll and remember that we all have the same 24 hours and life will not cease to exist if we slow down a little and be nice to ourselves. Even 15 minutes of self-care a day can reap benefits. And when I say self-care- get creative!
Now comes my fav part of this…..when you are struggling to keep yourself sane when school starts, it is time to think about what barriers are presenting themselves in your life….enter the awesome idea of counseling/therapy. Counseling can give us an opportunity to dig into those underlying beliefs that impact who we are as parents and how we respond/react to stress. Hell, sometimes we just need someone else to tell us that it is okay to do something nice for ourselves. As a therapist, I often use the oxygen mask analogy- the one where the flight attendant is very dramatically miming through some preset speech over the intercom about the importance of putting an oxygen mask on ourselves first...BEFORE..the plane crashes aka-.helping others. Do you do this in your life? Do you take care of yourself first before taking care of your kids, spouse, significant other, teammates, co-workers and anyone else that we believe “should” take priority over our own well-being? If you do then that is awesome and you are a badass. If you don’t then it may be time to start understanding why everyone else’s needs take priority over yours!
If you would like to know more about how counseling can help you work through stress, manage your life in your terms and/or help you put on that oxygen mask then feel free to give us a call at (919) 335-3105 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We accept most major insurances!