By now you’ve heard that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day.” It jump-starts your metabolism after an overnight fast, and nourishes your body and brain so you can have a focused and productive day. Unfortunately, with a multitude of other factors competing for attention during the wee hours of the day, starting your morning with a PFC balanced, real-food meal doesn’t always rank high on the priority list. Many consider themselves lucky if they’re able to pack meals for the rest of the day. If you are a parent or responsible for anyone else in your life, the anxiety of getting the car packed, the kids fed, all the shoes on the right feet, and to your destination on time can be paralyzing…and it doesn’t have to be that way! A goal in many families’ homes is for a streamlined, nourishing, tantrum-free morning to begin a productive and healthy day. Here are several tips to help you create a healthy morning environment for your family.
First things first:
Embrace Routine: Children thrive in an environment of order. They like to know what to expect and feel safe when they understand their place in the routine of the day. Routine will also benefit you by eliminating stress brought on by having to pull meals together out of thin air, assemble wardrobes, and making sure everyone is presentable for the day. When kids follow their routine, the tasks you need to accomplish in the morning will go much more smoothly. While not everyone’s routine will look the same, I recommend parents get up at least 10-15 minutes before the kids so you have a moment to gather yourself and mentally prepare for the day and the morning’s hubbub. Perhaps you’ll use that time to shower and enjoy a cup of coffee with butter—sometimes that’s the added bonus I need to face the day!
Logistically, what might a morning routine look like? It starts with some preparation on your part.
Here are five simple things that can solidify your own morning routine:
1. Make Charts. Before we get into the things you can be doing to make your mornings smooth, let’s talk about putting some of that responsibility on the ones who tend to make the morning hectic to begin with. 🙂 We already touched on routine being so good for children, and a great way to make that routine easy for them is to make colorful task charts with a way to “check off” when a certain routine task is complete. Include things like brush teeth, get dressed, wash face, pack backpack, etc. If your kids aren’t old enough to read yet, you can use pictures as a way to identify the tasks.
2. Make Meals. One of the hardest parts of your morning might be making sure everyone is fed before they leave and that they head out with a healthy lunch in hand. The good news is breakfast and lunch can both be prepared the night before, leaving you a little more time for that shower and cup of coffee, or even a quick balanced breakfast smoothie for both yourslef and the kiddos! Label your kids’ lunch boxes and keep them in the refrigerator, ready to go in the morning. Packing their lunch boxes into their backpacks can even be a task for their charts. Consider preparing tomorrow’s breakfast while prepping dinner (that way you’ll only have one mess to clean up!). For example, you can pre-chop veggies for an egg bake to pop in the oven before you shower in the morning.
3. Make Arrangements. Check tomorrow’s forecast and pick everyone’s clothes out the night before, laying them out for easy access. Making sure backpacks and briefcases are packed and ready to go by the door can help immensely. Be sure if you’re going right from work or school to a sporting event/practice, that you have everything you need also packed up and ready to go by the door (or already in your car if temperature is not an issue).
4. Make Sleep a Priority. There is so much to be said about how a good night’s sleep affects your day and how well the morning routine plays out. When you’ve figured out a healthy sleep routine, Mama’s happy, Daddy’s happy, and the kids are happy. Adequate sleep improves everyone’s mood!
5. Make Family Time Meaningful. We know routine is important for kids and families, and even more important is that your kids see you as present in their lives. Engage with your family by limiting distractions (don’t keep the TV on in the morning while you’re getting ready, and if you’re able to eat breakfast (or any meal for that matter) together at the table, put the phone away!). And as important as routine is, make sure there is some room for spontaneous fun with your family so you can make lasting memories.
Ultimately, a routine and some preparation will help reduce stress. At first, incorporating these ideas might seem like a daunting task, but stay motivated by reminding yourself of all the good things you are doing for your family by making sure they’re getting nutrient rich, PFC balanced breakfast before heading out the door and by creating a healthy, stress-free home environment for them. No one likes dreading waking up in the morning. Once you’ve reaped the benefits of a successful routine, such as more energy, more focus and less stress, you’ll find even more motivation to continue streamlining your mornings! It might take a bit of trial and error to figure out what type of routine works best for your family, but once you’ve got a system, it’s totally worth it!
Do you have a successful routine that works for you and your family? Share your secrets in the comments below!