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Strategies to Defeat Morning Madness

mom and daughter running to busFor parents nationwide, the start of another school year signals the return to weekday morning madness – that daily stressful dash to get the family crew up, ready and out the door on time.

If you’ve had your fill of a.m. chaos, sample the suggestions below and send those hectic mornings packing.

Tweaks to Tame the A.M.

As a first step, commit to paper the challenges that characterize most mornings. Then review the following strategies with an eye toward matching existing challenges with potential solutions.

  • Prep nightly – After a long day, it’s understandably difficult to embrace the practice of capping off each night by preparing for the next day; but, if you make this commitment, you’ll be amazed by how much more smoothly your morning unfolds. Recommended nightly preparations include: packing lunches; determining what the kiddos can have for breakfast; making sure that everyone has a clean/weather-appropriate outfit for the next day; ensuring that homework has been completed and any needed parental signatures have been inked, and programming your automatic coffeemaker.
  • Start your day earlier – While this recommendation will likely be hard to swallow, the harsh reality is – if your mornings generally seem like a frantic race against the clock – you need to start your day earlier. Giving yourself and your offspring as little as 15 extra minutes can significantly reduce stress levels and enable the entire clan to start each day feeling calm rather than crazed.
  • End your night earlier – If you implement the previous suggestion, then the logical corollary is that you also need to consistently turn in earlier. It’s certainly not a newsflash that getting adequate sleep is crucial, so adults should strive for at least seven hours. Recommendations for the younger set are: 3 to 5 years-10 to 13 hours; 6 to 13 years-9 to 11 hours; 14 to 17 years-8 to 10 hours; and

18 years and above-7 to 9 hours.

  • Follow a routine – The morning is not the time of day to tax your brain. Instead, if you can navigate your way through the morning’s many tasks while essentially on autopilot, madness will be replaced by mellowness. So develop and follow a specific routine. The order in which you complete tasks is up to you; the important element is consistency.
  • Verbalize positivity – While it may sound like a fringe idea, positive affirmations have been studied and found to be an effective means of curbing stress. So, why not incorporate an affirmation into your morning routine. Consider this straightforward statement: I choose to have a great day. Or institute a morning family affirmation, e.g., the Smiths are going to have a great day!
  • Weave in breathing – Studies have shown that simple breathing exercises can corral stress, and there’s no better time than the morning to put such findings to the test. Select a juncture in your morning routine that lends itself to breathing in for five seconds, holding for five seconds, then releasing for five seconds. If possible, repeat several times. Chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sense of serenity that ensues.
  • Bribe if necessary – Let’s rephrase that – reward if necessary. Many kids need a dab of motivation to stay on task, particularly in the cranky haze of morning. So, if your goal is to be out the door by 8 a.m., tell your offspring that if they’re ready by 7:45 a.m., they can spend 15 minutes doing an activity of their choosing.

Now’s the time to push “morning makeover” to the top of your priority list and wave good-bye to morning madness.