6 Keys To A Stress-Free Morning
By Tanni Haas
In my family, mornings used to be really stressful, with everyone running around like chickens with their heads off as we rushed to get ready and out the door. Things have changed. Through trial and error, and conversations with other parents, we have come up with six things to do so we have stress-free mornings.
Have a Morning Chore Chart
The best way to start the morning stress-free is to plan as much as possible the night before. To help us, we have a Morning Chore Chart which specifies all the things that need to be done each morning and who’s responsible for doing them. The chart spells out everything from making the bed (something teenagers really hate to do) to who is making what for breakfast. We rotate our tasks every week to be fair.
At the bottom of the chart, we list the things that need to be done on a specific day, like leaving money for an overnight school trip, or leaving work early for a doctor’s appointment. The chart lists daily chores, and unique tasks for specific events.
A Place For Everything – Everything In Its Place
It helps to know where to find the things that you need in the morning. If it were up to my 15-year-old, his stuff would be dumped where he last needed it, or tossed on the floor. We’ve agreed on where exactly to put our morning essentials – school bags, lunch boxes, footwear, etc. It makes mornings so much smoother. No one is running around looking for lost items – we just grab what we need and go.
It’s also helpful to do as many morning tasks as you can the night before: lay aside clothes to wear, pack school bags and lunches, and finish all homework. No more last-minute homework in the car!
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It may sound like a cliché, but getting a good night’s sleep really is extremely important to reducing morning stress. If one person is sleep-deprived, that person often makes everyone else grumpy, too. To get a good night’s sleep you’d be wise to turn off all electronics a half an hour before bed time to have time to unwind and shut down. If you want to make sure this happens, have your kids charge their devices anywhere else but in their own bedrooms.
Wake Up – Then Wake Up Everyone Else
Try waking up 20-30 minutes earlier than everyone else. That will give you time to get ready yourself before the morning rush starts. The bathroom is particularly popular in the morning, which of course creates extra tension that can be avoided.
Stay Calm and Positive
When you’re finally ready to get everyone else up, try to be calm and positive. If you’re unhappy about something the kids did or didn’t do, mornings aren’t the best time to bring it up. Conflicts are rarely resolved positively early in the morning when there’s so much to do. Put on some happy upbeat music instead. That will help put everyone in the right frame of mind.
Eat Breakfast With Lots of Protein
When you finally sit down for breakfast, make sure that the whole family gets lots of protein. You’ll all need the energy it provides for the long day ahead.
Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences & Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.