September often brings new morning routines—new preschools, school, and work schedules. Some people sail through mornings, getting everything done, ready, and squared away. Then there are the rest of us with mornings full of haste and angst. Luckily, we can change that. Not to someone’s else’s way of doing things, but by upping our own game plan. First, agree that mornings take energy, time and a bit of organizational skills. Next consider what adjustments to make for you and your family.
If you don’t have enough energy in the mornings, the first question to ask yourself is: do I get enough sleep? Typically, this means that you have been in bed seven hours before the alarm goes off. Often the answer is ‘no.’ We imagine an endless evening in front of us and therefore waste time on social media, computer games, and useless distractions. This seldom leaves enough time for chores and spending time with the ones we love. We go to bed late, with chores undone, and feeling unsettled.
To solve the sleep issue, become your own parent. Set your bedtime and stick to it. Knowing that the evening will end at the same time every night allows you to prioritize chores and family time. You get more done in less time. About an hour prior to your bed time, get your ‘jammies’ on and relax. Relaxing might include a favorite TV show, time with one’s spouse, yoga, a devotional or a good book. As you get better at getting yourself to bed you will notice more morning energy. There is one additional bonus; when a person has enough sleep at night they are less tempted to eat sugary snacks.
If the energy problem is solved, but there is still too much angst in the mornings, it probably means that you are not allowing yourself and your family enough time to get ready for the day ahead. Reset your bedtime and alarm for ½ to 1 hour earlier. Some people need ‘wake up time’ before they jump into the morning fray—time to wake up slowly, stretch, think, check news, take time to reorientation to the new day.
Next, it’s usually easier with preschoolers in the house, to get one’s self completely dressed and ready to go before waking up the little ones. That way parents have time to teach the preschooler through their own morning routine. Remember to save a bit of time in which parents and preschooler can sit at the table for breakfast. Cereal? Eggs? Premade waffles in the toasters? Eating doesn’t need to take more than 10 minutes and, if dishes were done the night before, clean-up is only 5 minutes. It is time well spent.
Next week I will address getting ready-to-go routines and coming home routines for your preschooler that are designed to save you time, work, and make your preschooler more independent. Until then, set your bedtime and stick to it and give yourself more time in the mornings. Until then, sweet dreams.
Evelyn Satterlee, M.Ed.