Keep Morning Stress at a Minimum: Establish a Routine

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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Morning! It can be a time of stress. The kids are fighting over who gets to use the bathroom first, scrambling to find clothes to wear to school and wolfing down breakfast as they head out the door. Mornings can be chaotic and that chaos creates a great deal of stress for kids and parents alike.

Children thrive on boundaries, routines and rules. Many parents don't realize this and the result is a morning that is filled with turmoil for everyone in the household every morning of the week. This doesn't have to happen. The establishment of a morning routine in your household is very important. It will bring calm and organization that will assure everyone is out the door on time and it will keep stress levels at a minimum. It also establishes habits that will remain with your child into adulthood.

As the members of your household head out the door to work and school, you want them to be calm. This is a great start for a busy day and causes everyone to be more productive

Research shows that children who follow a morning routine get better grades and have less social and behavioral issues. Those who start the morning in chaos experience high stress levels and have trouble concentrating. A morning routine ends arguments, nagging and shouting before they begin. Kids who follow a morning routine are relaxed, calm and much happier throughout the entire day.

Establishing a morning routine in your household is easy to accomplish. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Set the breakfast table late in the evening. This includes dishes, (turn them upside down if you must) flatware and non-perishable items such as boxed cereal.

If possible, keep all breakfast items in one cabinet. This will allow you to have everything at your fingertips in the morning instead of rushing back and forth frantically. If you children are old enough to lend a hand, make them responsible for at least one task.

Each evening have your children choose the clothes they want to wear the next day and lay them neatly on a chair in their room. If your children are too young to complete this task on their own, ask them to help you.

Set out your own clothes in a neat pile before you go to bed. This saves valuable time in the morning. No more scrambling to find that perfect outfit.

Choose a convenient place near the door to place backpacks, books and sports equipment. Install coat hooks for each member of your family and place a while shelf or tote beneath it for shoes and boots. This ensures that when you and your family are ready to head out the door you will have everything you need close at hand. This alleviates the need to frantically search for missing boots, hats, cloths or homework assignments.

In the evening write a list of what the kids need for school the next day and pin it on a bulletin board near the coat hooks. Older children can check the list to ensure they have all equipment and supplies needed for the day. You can easily check the list for items that younger children need.

Use the bulletin board for things you need to be reminded of such as school trips and hot lunch day.

When your children arrive home from school with memos, letters, notices and forms read them immediately and sign what is necessary. Place these items in your child's backpack immediately so they won't be forgotten. This assures that important communication with your child's school is not overlooked.

Always be prepared. Make sure to keep breakfast and dinner supplies on hand. Keep your vehicle's gas tank topped up. Being prepared eliminates a morning crisis.

Establish a "Homework Nook." Keep necessary books and supplies on hand. Set a scheduled time and place for homework to be done and don't vary from it. When your child completes his homework it must be placed in his backpack immediately. The backpack should then be placed in a designated place near the door.

Set the alarm clock to go off fifteen minutes earlier. Adding a few extra minutes to a hectic morning schedule will give you much more control and keep the morning routine calm.

Leave the house at least five minutes early each morning in case of unexpected delays or detours. This will alleviate the stress of running behind time.

Having an established morning routine gives both children and parents a great start to the day ahead. Everyone will leave the house feeling calm, comfortable and relaxed, which is a perfect way to start the day.

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