I’m a morning person. What about you?
Maybe you were before you had children. Maybe these days you are hankering after an extra snooze before you wake up smiling.
“On the one hand, we all want to be happy. On the other hand, we all know the things that make us happy. But we don’t do those things. Why? Simple. We are too busy. Too busy doing what? Too busy trying to be happy.”
—Matthew Kelly, Bestselling Author
I believe that making the most of those beautiful morning moments of solitude are the key to happiness. When we are connected to ourselves, we connect to others more easily and readily. Without connection to ourselves, we become resentful, frustrated and intolerant (oh that’s just me then?!) My blog, What the Most Successful Mums Do Before Breakfast’ was inspired by Laura Vanderkam, author of ‘What the most successful people do before breakfast time. I’ve now moved onto reading ‘The Miracle Morning‘ by Hal Elrod.
Do you see a theme here? Hal Elrod believes that there are 6 important ingredients to start the day off right and they spell out SAVERS:
I am 4 days in and I have to say that my mind monkeys are putting up a bit of resistance. Hal assures me that by day 11, I will move from unbearable to uncomfortable and by day 21, I will be unstoppable. I can’t wait!
It got me thinking how we could apply this morning philosophy to everyday life. So here are 10 top tips to shake up your morning routine. If you have any others you want to share, please do so in the comments below:-
1. Notice how you spend your time now – download this journal or you can scribble in a little note book; a bit like you did when they were small to record ounces of milk and hours of sleep! This is your time journal. I wonder how much time you spend repeating yourself, shouting and stressed?
2. Daydream your perfect morning. Romanticise about you and your children picking daisies from the garden if you must! Now work through the logistics in your head so you can make it a little closer to reality. I personally think having something fun to look forward to every day makes getting out of bed early, that little bit more motivating. You could always make a promise to see the good in your child every day and let them know about it too.
3. Take an audit of your existing morning. Using your time journal. Look at what isn’t working now or what creates the most arguments or stressful moments. Mark Twain said: ‘If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. Come on! Let’s mix it up a little bit. Involve your children in this process so they feel as if they have some control over what their day looks like. A day at school is full of rules and time-tabled activities (some of which they won’t want to do) so it’s empowering to feel as if you have some say in your day.
4. Get up earlier – give your family the best of you, not what is left over at the end of the day. In fact you know how fractious tea time or the ‘witching hour’ as I like to call it can be. Getting up earlier means going to bed earlier (sorry!). I discovered recently that I was going to bed at midnight as I was wiling away the hours on Facebook or online. The internet can be such a time thief. Consequently, I would wake up the next morning tired and grumpy. I am now trying a no screens before 8am and after 8pm routine. I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you have to wake your kids in the morning, they aren’t getting enough sleep. Every hour of sleep less than they need sets them back a year in access to brain function, meaning they act a year younger. ~ Dr. Laura Markham
5. Unplug – I stopped listening to the news years ago as I found it was rather depressing and changed my mindset before the day had even begun. I’m not a fan of the TV first thing. Screens and mobile phones are a huge distraction and not a very gentle way to wake up. I quite like the radio on in the morning or sometimes just silence to gather my thoughts before I start my day. The on-line community will not miss you for a couple of hours when you are going about your morning routine.
6. Lay everything out the night before. I know when my gym stuff (right down to my socks) is laid out at the end of my bed, I’m more likely to get up and out the door. I work from home so I need something to make me get up and out of the door every day. There’s lots you can prepare the night before so think about what gets lost and what is stressful in the mornings and then go to bed knowing you are good to go for the next day. My Niece often sleeps with her hair in a plait (not only does it give her curly hair) but it also means there is drama free hair styling the next day.
7. Devise a morning schedule where there are designated jobs for everybody to do on waking. Micromanagement is inefficient and it shows lack of trust. Sit down with your children and explain to them what you expect of them in the mornings. Ooh I’m starting to sound like a Sargent Major now. These may include:-
- Wash & brush your teeth
- Get dressed
- Draw curtains and make bed
- Put pyjamas where they live (if everything has a home then it’s much easier to get your hands on it again when you need to)
- Emptying dishwasher and reloading after breakfast (would it help to know that this only takes 6 minutes)
- Putting lunches in school bags
- Helping prepare breakfast or if you are big enough getting your own breakfast
- Get something out of the freezer for dinner. Vanderkam writes in the book not to over think dinner as it’s about spending time together as a family, not to be Delia in the kitchen, although some of you may enjoy cooking and your kids may like to be a part of that.
I’m sure you can think of other things. Every house will have a different morning routine. I have to say that investing time in training your children to do things for themselves may seem like it makes more mess and well, it’s quicker for you to do it. However, you want your children to be independent beings and start thinking for themselves.
8. Talk about your lives over breakfast. They say have breakfast like a King, so enjoy a good breakfast together. Stray from your usual bowl of porridge. Lay the table as you would at supper time and make time to talk about the day ahead. Get your children in a positive frame of mind. My Smiley Thought Cards are great for this. The families I have worked with who have ‘badly behaved’ children (mmm no such thing, just unhappy ones) are the ones who don’t talk and share. If you get up earlier (see point 4) then you can do this. If your children aren’t fans of eating on waking, it’s a good change to make. They need to try a little something to kick start their bodies out of starvation mode first thing.
9. Set a second alarm by which time your children need to have their coats and shoes on and be ready to go. Have a spot by the door where everything goes. By that I mean mobile phones, keys, shoes, book bags, PE kits etc. Then you are under no pressure to worry about time escaping. I keep my eye on the clock in the mornings as being late is one of my pet hates. You can keep giving them time checks and have a countdown if your children like to know what’s coming next (most of them do).
10. The promise of a reward if they are ready early they get 10 minutes to do what they want to do whether that is with you or alone. Some great ways to connect with your children in the morning are more cuddles, more reading, more whatever they say they don’t get enough of (obviously not sweets or screen time). It’s probably more time with you and this is great for your relationship. So start a project together – a jigsaw that you leave out and complete each day or a photo album where you scrapbook old pictures. How about trying some meditation to set you up for the day? Deep breathing releases dopamine, seratonin and oxcytocin into the body (feel good chemicals). If everything else is done, you can take this time out with your children and watch as it totally transforms your morning and the day ahead. They are emotionally calm and so are you. You have time to get things done, so you are not losing your temper.
“We draw more energy from meaningful things.” ~ Laura Vanderkam
Getting up in the morning and carving out a connected way of being with our families, gives us the right kind of energy when we need it. Of course, that might not be right for every family, but you won’t know until you try. If you want to use those precious morning moments for a little Mum Time, then do it. Whatever works for you. Guaranteed whatever morning routine behaviour you are role-modelling your children will follow suit.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Last week, I coached a little boy whose dog had died. He kept saying to me: ‘If I could have had one more day with him…just one more day!’ You can’t buy it back time. It’s the one thing that marches on regardless. These days don’t last forever and all the work you put in now, you are laying down very solid foundations for your child’s future. So remember, you have less than one thousand Saturdays with each child in your care before he or she is grown up! Now there’s something worth making the most of! Do you want to spend it snoozing in bed?
Image credits © Ana Blazic Pavlovic – Fotolia.com and © Ilike – Fotolia.com © wildworx – Fotolia.com