Getting everybody up, dressed, and out the door is a universal challenge, but there are simple strategies to make weekday mornings more manageable, smoother, and not so frantic.
The morning sets the tone for your whole day. Beginning on a stressful, disorganized note is not what anybody neds, and neither is waking up exhausted. "For kids and adults alike, it's essential to start by getting a good night's sleep," says Bethany Braun-Silva, on-air parenting and lifestyle expert, host of The Breakdown with Bethany podcast, and the mom of a ten and 7-year-old. It's key to have a solid nighttime routine that helps you and your family wind down and prepare for bedtime. "Getting enough rest is a way to refill your tank and energize you for the day ahead. Parents rely on a routine to teach kids to relax at night and also how to start the day out right. Mornings are really challenging in my family, and I've learned from experience that a little preparation and a few organizational tricks can actually make you a better morning person."
1) Prep the night before
"A lot of the morning routine can be tackled in the evening when it's quieter and a little more relaxed," says Braun-Silva. "We do things like packing up backpacks and laying out clothes for the next day. Bathing is also a part of my kids' evening routine. This mellows them out before getting into bed and saves a ton of time in the morning. I also try to pack lunches the night before, and my boys like to be involved in choosing what they want." Checking these tasks off the list puts you ahead of the game and prevents chaos during the morning rush hour.
2) Make waking up fun
"Getting my boys out of bed in the morning is not easy," admits Braun-Silva. Her answer: LOUD MUSIC! "Every Monday through Friday, my kids' alarm clock goes off at the same time. If that doesn't do the trick and usually doesn't, then I have the smart device set to play a really fun, upbeat rock and roll song. Right now, it's the Rolling Stones 'Neighbors.' That gets them conscious, out of bed, and in a good modd. It works every time!"
3) Find your moment of Zen
This may be the most important tip of all: Get in a calm, positive mindset when you wake up. The Japanese concept of 'ikigai' means having a reason for being, your purpose, and passion. Simply put: What gets you out of bed in the morning? Cultivating your own 'ikigai' may mean a morning meditation, a quick workout, or just being present and enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. "I try to get up a few minutes before everyone else so that I can have this quiet window of time to myself," says Braun-Silva, who starts the day with a positive affirmation. "I downloaded a daily positive affirmation app so that the first alert I see is a positive one that sets a good intention for the day. It's a small, actionable step that really makes a difference for me."
On a more practical note, Braun-Silva gets energized with a morning shower. "This is just as important as the positive affirmation and my morning coffee!" (MyKirei by KAO Nourishing Body Wash is infused with Japanese Yuzu Fruit extract - an energizing, nourishing, and citrus-scented waker upper).
4) Establish a solid game plan
Especially for younger children, it's helpful to have a strong schedule in place, and it's helpful if they can actually see it. "If kids know what's expected of them and feel a sense of autonomy and responsibility, they will get it done. They crave independence and want to do things on their own, so it's important to help guide them with clear, simple steps. If the morning routine is set up on a fun, colorful chart, they'll know what to accomplish. If you give them the tools to succeed, they will."
On the morning chart:
1. Get out of bed!
2. Use the bathroom and wash your hands.
3. Brush your teeth.
4. Comb your hair.
5. Make your bed.
6. Get dressed.
7. Come to the kitchen for breakfast.
"My boys love to use MyKirei by KAO Paw Print Foam Hand Wash. It actually motivates them to wash up because it's fun," says Braun-Silva. (MyKirei by KAO Yuzu Flower Foam Hand Wash dispenses a foamy flower into the palm of a kid's hand, while the Paw Print Foam Hand Wash pumps out the foam in the shape of an adorable puppy paw print).
5) Set some ground rules
Besides the intial Rolling Stones wake-up, avoid technology during the weekday getting-ready routine. "I am very firm about this: No screens in the morning, and these include iPads, cell phones, video games, and TV - for adults and kids," says Braun-Silva. "I won't even let my husband watch the news in the morning because I know my kids will get sucked into looking at the television and will zone out." Eyes on the prize: Your goal is to get out of the house as efficiently as possible, and staring at a screen is a time-waster in the morning.