School mornings can be tough. From waking up to eating breakfast to making sure everyone in the family gets to where they need to be on time, parents and kiddos can all be overwhelmed. Here, parenting author Ann Douglas shares four tips to start your day battle-free.
1. Prepare the night before Don’t just stop at planning tomorrow’s outfit—plan the whole morning, too. Prevent last-minute scrambles to find completed homework or teachers’ notes by going through your kids’ agendas—and your own—the night before so everyone is ready to go at sunrise. “Talk about it with the kids, too, because you want them to take on more responsibilities as they get older,” says Douglas. If your kids are up to it, have them make an end-of-day checklist and go through it with them until they can manage it on their own.
2. Declutter your mind If you start your day stressed, so will the kids. Douglas recommends calming your mind as soon as you get out of bed. This means getting up earlier than everyone else to give yourself enough time to get things in order before the morning truly begins.
3. Unplug at breakfast While it might be tempting to spend time at the kitchen table checking social feeds or, in your kids’ case, playing with tablets, try to make it an electronic-free zone, says Douglas. “Going online can make you divide your attention between you and the kids,” she says.
4. Hit the reset button Instead of giving in to a self-loathing cycle for not getting out of the house on time, practise self-compassion by hitting the reset button. If your kid is one to argue in the morning, first and foremost, de-escalate. “A big thing to ask yourself is, What does my child need from me right now? Because maybe all they need is for you to validate their emotions or acknowledge them,” says Douglas. “It’s about letting them know you’re on the same team.” If the problem persists, have a conversation outside of the morning rush to find a solution together.