Yesterday morning, I really wanted to eat breakfast. I usually wait until the girls are off to school to sit down with my cup of tea and bowl of yogurt and fruit, but yesterday I was hungry from the moment I got up. I had my schedule all figured out so I could eat breakfast before I took my girls to school. I finished helping everyone with their hair and sat down in the chair in the living room for just a minute to check something on the computer. I had 10 minutes before we had to leave for school, plenty of time for my breakfast. That's when the girls piled into my lap. Feebly, I tried to explain that I was going to eat breakfast. Nobody moved. With 140 pounds of girls in my lap, I wasn't going anywhere. So, we spent the 10 minutes before we rushed off to school piled in the chair talking to each other. There were no earth-shattering revelations, no problems that needed to be solved. There were only silly stories that needed to be shared, hugs that needed to be given and received and a sense of peace that pervaded the room.
Yesterday morning, I wanted to eat breakfast, but my girls needed to spend time with me. For the first time in weeks, I sent two smiling children off to school. No one grumbled about having to go to school. There were no long faces leading up to time to go to school. We simply had joy and peace in our home.
It made me start thinking about our morning routine. Usually, we're in too much of a hurry to grab those extra minutes together before the girls walk out the door. In the mad scramble for homework, breakfast, hair combing and backpack packing, we lose our sense of family and connection. There are days I send my girls out the door late and in tears because we've had such a rough morning.
Making time to make the morning go smoothly requires sacrifice on my part. It means putting off my breakfast until after the girls go to school. It means making sure we all get up in enough time to not be rushed. It means making sure my attitude reflects the attitude I want my girls to have. I set the tone for the morning. If I'm grumpy and rushed, my girls will be grumpy and rushed. If I'm peaceful and joyful, my girls will be peaceful and joyful.
Mornings can set the tone for the whole day. I've often found that a day that started out poorly also ended poorly. If your morning routine ends in a rush with cranky kids and a frustrated parent, try some new tactics to get your day started off on the right foot.
- Get up before your kids. Even having just 15 minutes to get yourself together before your kids enter the picture can give us time to adjust our own attitudes, have a quiet conversation with God and get our day started on the right foot. As the mom of an early riser, I know how difficult this one can be, but I've discovered that the half hour I get before my youngest gets up makes me a better mom.
- Give everyone enough time to get ready. Some kids are quick in the morning. They can get themselves together and out the door in half an hour or less. Other kids take longer. They need time to wake up and adjust to the fact that they are awake. I have one of each. I wake my youngest up (if she's not up already) at least 15 minutes before my oldest. When we have enough time to get everything done in the mornings, then we're not rushed and frustrated.
- Make some time for God in your morning routine. Psalm 5:3 says "In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." Whether you set aside five minutes to pray with your kids, do a devotional at the breakfast table or have your kids work on devotionals on their own in the morning, make time to start your day with God. Doing so gives God a chance to work on each family member's heart as the day begins, and it gives everyone something to ponder all day.
- Grab the little moments. Pay attention to what your kids have to say in the morning. Sometimes our kids will not let on that something is bothering them until the day it's going to happen. If we're so busy rushing around in the mornings and not listening, we may miss an important teachable moment. It's better to walk out of the house with no make-up than it is to miss a moment to soothe a child's anxiety or a chance to build up their self-image.
- Recognize that some mornings will simply not go well. Despite your best efforts, some mornings are a disaster. Homework gets forgotten. Kids get sick. Mom wakes up with a headache. Forgive yourself and anyone else who needs it. Get through the morning and work to make the next one better.
Setting ourselves and our kids up for success in the morning sets us all up for a successful day. Making sure God is part of the mix can give us all a better start to the day.