Some mornings, all the heartfelt pleas, appeals to reason and outright bribery in the world won’t see your children off to school without a major meltdown. When this happens, it can set an unpleasant tone for the rest of the day. Even with an established morning routine in place, you may find yourself dodging emotional a.m. outbursts multiple times per week. The good news is, with a few tweaks to your before-school schedule, you can minimize your chance of a morning catastrophe and start enjoying the first few hours of your day again.
Why Morning Meltdowns Happen
Let’s cut to the chase: Children aren’t exactly known for their impulse control or levelheaded responses to not getting their way. Sometimes, little kids have big emotions, and they don’t know what to do with them.
When your child loses his or her cool in the morning, there are myriad potential causes. Some of these triggers may sound familiar: Lack of sleep, for example, can make your little one just as cranky as you are when you stay up for “just one more episode” too many. A communication breakdown with you, your partner or siblings can also lead to an angry outburst. Even something as seemingly “grown-up” as anxiety can be to blame if your child’s emotions rocket off the charts before you’ve had your first cup of coffee.
Re-Framing Your Morning Routine & Ending Dramatic Drop-Offs
If morning meltdowns have become the norm, the good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way. Here are three tips for reclaiming those precious a.m. hours.
If getting your kids out the door and on their way to school is a daily struggle, organizing your path to the door itself can help. Utilize bins, baskets, folders, hooks and other items to make finding homework, shoes and library books easier. Making sure everything has a place saves time and bolsters your existing routine. It also minimizes mess and makes cleanup easier; you may find that having a dedicated space that is just for them makes your children have more agency when it’s time to pick things up and put them away.
Start Your Morning Routine the Night Before
Give Future You a break by putting in the pre-school prep the night before. Make lunches and snacks, have your children pick out their clothes and load up backpacks in advance. Everything you do tonight is one more thing you don’t have to do in the morning. Throw some overnight oats in the slow cooker and set out your Wellements Elderberry Immune Syrup, for example, and breakfast is handled.
Be a Role Model
Kids see more and hear more than we realize as parents — and this Superman-caliber hearing extends far beyond picking up a four-letter word from Grandma when her team doesn’t make the playoffs. As such, it’s vital that Mom and Dad set a calm, positive tone for the morning. If you wake your little ones up with a grimace and meet every hiccup in your morning routine with yelling, your kids are going to meet that negativity and frustration with more negativity and frustration. Even worse, they’re going to learn that those are the main ways to deal with challenges, not only during the morning but also for the rest of the day.
Waking Up Happy & Well Rested
Establishing a healthy sleep routine may be the very best thing you can do to restore calm to your morning. Children should wake up at roughly the same time every morning, including weekends, after getting an adequate number of Zs. For school-age children, the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses 9-12 hours of sleep each night. For preschoolers, 11-14 hours is ideal. A child who is well-rested is more prepared to handle big emotions. (The same holds true for parents, too.)
The hours before school don’t have to be a battle. With a solid night's sleep, a bit of preparation and a commitment to staying both positive and present, you can steer your entire household toward a sunnier start to the day.