9 Strategies for Working Parents to Reduce Stress and Get Control of Mornings
Kicking off the day with a positive outlook and an organized mindset is integral to running a business or being successful at work. If you’re a working parent, you likely deal with some morning madness, and if you have younger kids (or teens!), morning meltdowns.
Aside from establishing good morning eating habits, and eliminating unnecessary TV and social media scrolling in the morning, below are 9 tips for reducing morning stress by saving time, all while keeping your kids in a positive mindset.
1. Do everything the night before
Lay out your clothes, the kids’ clothes, pack lunches, ensure that homework is finished and in the folders and even have some breakfast items prepped such as cut-up fruit or hard-boiled eggs. Everyone has a different routine but the key is that we adapt to routines and kids especially do too. Even plan for little things such as knowing where essentials like car keys, glasses, and Bluetooth headphones are. (To make the time for this prep, give up some screen time or these other habits that can destroy your productivity.)
2. Give your kids time to save time
We don’t like to be rushed, and especially kids. If your kids can “chill” a little bit in the morning, they are more relaxed and this will minimize meltdown. On the same note, if you are someone that likes to journal, read the news or enjoy your cup of coffee, rather than just slamming it down in the car or commute, it is game-changing to prioritize waking up 15-30 minutes earlier, so long as you get in bed at a decent time.
3. Bypass the morning breakfast blitz
A lot of time can be wasted trying to figure out what to make for breakfast, and it can’t always be pop-tarts on the go if you want your children (and you!) to thrive throughout their day. I like to prep the cut-up fruit (because this takes time!) have hard-boiled eggs on hand and toast or bagels are easy for kids to make themselves. One favorite in our household is tasty egg muffins that can be made over the weekend and are great for just pulling out of the fridge, on-the-go, and even for packing into lunches.
4. Take care of yourself first
Just like the airplane oxygen mask analogy, you need to take care of yourself first to function best. So whether it’s exercise, meditation or cleaning out your inbox while you sip your coffee and eat breakfast, ensure that you put your armor on before you take on responsibilities for getting the kids ready.
5. Divide and conquer with your partner
As with many tasks at the office, it’s the teamwork that eases the load for everyone and drives success. So why not do the same at home? Identify your strengths and weaknesses and devise a plan with your partner. For example, I like to work out first thing in the morning and can get up and go. My husband prefers to take his time, work early and enjoy his coffee. He spends time with our boys, makes them breakfast, and then I come home in time to finish up the lunch boxes that were prepared the night before, drink a post-workout protein shake and get myself together, before getting the boys out the door for school. For single parents, aim for preparing as much as you can the night before and teaching your children to help out with breakfast and packing their bags.
6. Build an army with your kids
Teach your children to help out. Our kids are 8 and 11 and we have taught them to make simple breakfasts like toast bagels and spread cream cheese on them, toast waffles or get things like yogurt and cut up fruit out of the fridge. For some families, a “chore chart” helps keep them organized and depending on the ages of your kids, it’s best to create a routine for them that includes boxes for them to check for when they: get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, comb their hair (we like to skip this one), pack their backpacks, etc. When you give your children ownership and responsibility, you empower them with confidence and independence that will pay off in the long run.
7. Build a cubby system
The last-minute hunt for homework, shoes, after school activity gear or anything else is an immediate stress trigger. Be it hooks and cabinets or an actual shelving cubby system near your back door, this “launchpad station” for everyone helps foster organization. At our home, we each have our own cubby and it’s a place where we keep shoes and have backpacks and paperwork. My personal cubby has my gym bag packed and ready to go (even with car keys inside of it!) the night before so that I can just grab it early morning and quietly sneak out the door.
8. Shop online
Amazon Fresh, Instacart, Brandless, or whatever you like, find effective online shopping sites and skip the trips to the store. We rely heavily on Amazon Fresh and by using their “Past Purchases” drop-down tool, it’s simple to reorder staple grocery and home items. Going to the grocery store mid-week is difficult for many working parents and online grocery delivery has redefined the shopping experience.
9. Stay calm
No one has ever calmed down when they are yelled at to “Calm Down!” right? While we are all guilty of yelling, it’s very counter-productive to getting out the door. Kids sense tension and anxiety and if you are not calm, neither are they. And why should your kids be rushed? For the benefit of all, including yourself, focus on using a calm voice and keeping a positive attitude as you explain to kids why you need their help.
As entrepreneurs and parents, jam-packed days are inevitable, yet keeping anxiety levels low is crucial to your health, well-being and success. Make the most of the limited family time in the mornings and evenings and try to truly be with them and minimize the multi-tasking. Whenever possible, have a back-up plan, get a good night’s sleep and allow for some flexibility. Happy less-stressed parents will lead to happier and less-stress kids. There’s no debate about that.