Tips for Smoother Mornings

When mornings get off to a rough start, the chaos and anxiety that ensue can set the tone for our entire day. On #whatworkswednesday a few weeks ago (check out to watch the videos), I shared my top six tips for developing a morning routine that can help you ensure better mornings. Here are those tips:

  1. Simplify your routine. If there are things that can be done to prepare for the busy day ahead of time, do them ahead of time! Plan quick, on the go breakfasts, check backpacks for papers that need signed, lay out clothes, etc. the night before. Only leave for the morning what can only be done in the morning! The less expectations of our kiddos in the morning, the smoother the morning will be.
  2. Have a schedule. In order to help manage the chaos that morning time can be, your schedule should be simple, clear and easy to understand. Consider a visual schedule for younger kids or kids with learning difficulties. Step by step instructions are best.
  3. Stick to your routine. Mornings are not the best time to change things up. If a schedule adjustment does need made, it is best to introduce it slowly and over time to allow kids time to adjust. Kids from hard places do best when they know what to expect and what is happening next. Adhering to a routine increases the chances of a child feeling safe.
  4. Show, don’t tell. “Go brush your teeth, get your shoes on and bring your backpack downstairs”. This may be how you typically give direction to your child in the morning. However, a child with executive functioning deficits (whether caused by ADHD, trauma or just by being a kid) can’t remember multi-step directions. Their brains actually tune them out. “Let’s go make sure you have everything you need to brush your teeth” is likely going to produce a better outcome. Some of our kids can’t process verbal directions and actually need hand over hand assistance with things like applying toothpaste, tying shoes, etc. Let go of expectations you would have of neuro-typical kids and slow down, model desired behavior/action and offer lots of praise and encouragement.
  5. Set the tone. Here’s the one where I remind you that we are the grown-ups. Yes, there may be mornings where you want to sit down and cry but our kids are looking to us for cues. Kids with developmental trauma exposure exhibit hypervigilence. They are constantly scanning their environment, on the look out for danger. They pick up on our tension, our irritability, our overwhelm. Sometimes even before we do. Find a morning routine that allows you to be as at peace and centered as possible. The kids demeanor will mirror yours on most days.
  6. Stir it up! Lots of mamas ask me how to corral all the energy their kiddos have as soon as their feet hit the floor in the morning. Excess energy can lead to picking on a sibling, making a mess and all sorts of other annoyances. My advice is to take time to get those wiggles out and make channeling that energy into a part of your morning routine. There are lots of Mommy and Me exercise and yoga videos on Youtube. Do 5-10 minutes of exercise before you ask the kids to focus on their morning responsibilities. Exercise boosts endorphins and will have all of you feeling rejuvenated.

What is your best morning tip?

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