Mastering Mornings

I'm a morning person. I get up at 5:30 every morning. I'm one of those people who wakes up in a good mood. My girls are usually morning people too. They might be slow to start, but once they're up, they're usually in a pretty decent mood.

About a month ago, though, I noticed that my younger daughter was having trouble in the mornings. Attitudes were poor. She wasn't motivated to get things done. She went to school a lot of days in a bad mood. By the time she left, I was in a bad mood.

Mornings can be a struggle in any household. There's just so many things that have to go right for your morning to get off to a good start. Everyone needs to wake up well-rested and ready to do their part, attitudes need to be focused in the right place, and everyone needs to be ready to work together. When that's not the case, disaster usually ensues in our house. In evaluating our mornings, I've made a few simple changes that have made our mornings a lot smoother.

Get up before your kids. This sounds simple, right? But I find that on those mornings when I don't get up and give myself a little time before I wake up my kids, we start out behind the eight ball. My attitude is usually poor, and it rubs off on my kids. Even if it's just 10 minutes, give yourself a few minutes alone before your kids get up.

Pray. Before your kids get out of bed, offer up a prayer for your day. It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but cover your day in prayer. Ask God to protect and guide each person in your home during the day. Psalm 5:3 says, "In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." When we start the day asking for God's help, it's easier to rely on Him to provide it.

Set a joyful tone. I like to listen to the news on the radio in the morning. I get the traffic, the weather and any important world or local news, but about a month ago I realized that listening to the news with its constant barrage of death and destruction was affecting our mornings. My younger daughter would get concerned or upset about what was going on in the world, and we'd spend much of the morning talking about it. I was sending her out the door with murder and mayhem on the mind. So, about a month ago, I switched to listening to the local Christian radio station while the girls are home. It has lightened our attitudes and put our focus on God in the mornings. Create an atmosphere of joy in your home in the morning. It goes a long way toward helping your kids have joyful attitudes during the day.

Have a routine. Most kids do better in the mornings if they know exactly what's expected of them. If you have slow movers in the morning, make a checklist for them of all the things they need to do. This helps keep them on track and keeps you from turning into a nagging shrew. If they finish they're checklist early, the free time is theirs to do with what they wish.

Collect prayer requests. Ask your kids what they want you to pray about while they are gone. We have two whiteboards in our house that are labeled with the girls' names. Every morning, they put their requests on the board before they leave. Those white boards are in my kitchen where I see them at least a dozen times a day. Every time I walk by those boards, I pray over my daughters.

Laugh. Laugh with your kids in the morning, even if you have to break out a joke book to do it. Start your day off with a funny fact, a joke, a funny story. Get some laughter into your house in the mornings. It will get your kids started with good attitudes.

We all have tough mornings when we oversleep or someone is sick, but if the majority of your mornings have you pulling out your hair, it's time to make some adjustments. Evaluate your mornings to figure out how you can get your kids moving without attitudes souring.