Fact: parents struggle to get out the door in the morning.
Kids are not built to be highly efficient. They’re built to make you late to work, or to the appointment you’ve got, or to school. It doesn’t matter how many programmable coffee makers, day planners, or other high tech time-saving gadgets you buy - if you don’t have the morning down, you’ll probably be late.
As we all know, finding a morning routine that works can be tough. You’re constantly experimenting in an environment that is always changing.
What's tricky is that there is no control group for developing your method. You’re dealing with a moving target everyday. Sometimes your kids are on board with moving quickly, sometimes you put butter on the wrong side of their toast and the world comes crashing down.
Hello, Minimalist Family is all about the no-nonsense routine and we’ve got a framework that we're confident can give you a boost.
- Identify your struggle
- Determine why you struggle
- Brainstorm ways to avoid this struggle
- Experiment with different ways to avoid said struggle - trial and error.
- Go with what works.
Before you begin..
Recognize and accept that your routine is going to take time to develop. There is no quick fix to a morning routine. Bad habits, such as staying up late and inevitably having a hard time getting up in the morning, while they’re not impossible to break, they can be difficult to break. Realize that just because Karen down the street, whose kids slept through the night straight out of the womb and who is always on time for drop off and pick up, has a seemingly airtight morning routine, that doesn’t make it normal. In fact, it’s not normal. Babies are supposed to be difficult sleepers in those first few months (and perhaps even beyond) and having the perfect routine everyday is just plainly not possible.
Actual Step One:
Identify your struggle. This will take some self exploration. Try to pinpoint what it is that you struggle with in the morning and work backwards from there. Maybe there’s some disorganization in the morning that makes getting out the door a bit hectic.
What, exactly, is disorganized? Breakfast? Getting kids dressed? Getting you dressed? How much time does it take you or your partner to gather everyone’s backpacks and/or laptop bags together before you leave each day? Or, it may be preparing and convincing everyone to eat breakfast that is eating up all of your time.
A lot of people struggle with kids dragging their feet to get dressed and, personally, parents/caretakers don’t have much time to prepare themselves for the day. As soon as you pinpoint your struggle, or struggles, you can move on to step 2.
Identify why you struggle with this. Take disorganization, for example. If you’re spending the morning getting your things and your kids’ things together in the morning, is it because there is not enough time to do it all? Are you waking up too late to get it all done in time? A lot of times, going to bed too late is the culprit for morning chaos. It’s completely understandable as well.
As a parent you have such limited time to yourself and it’s hard to spend your limited alone time sleeping. So, it’s common for parents to stay up later that they should, reading or doing whatever it is they can’t do when they’re kids are awake or they’re at work, and the consequence is being super tired in the morning, or waking up too late and not having enough time. Another culprit is not prepping the night before for the morning. The last thing a parent wants to do after their kids go to bed is more work. Getting breakfast together, getting kids’ belongings together, or getting your own items for the day together can be just enough for you to want to put it off until morning. In general, being organized as a parent is hard. It’s an uphill battle that you have to be intentional about or the chaos creeps up on you.
Brainstorm ways to avoid the struggle. This can be the tough part, as it will require you to change. And change is hard! We’ll try and help you do this part because it’s difficult. Is prepping for the morning the night before a task to get through because you’ve got too much stuff to get ready? Try paring down what your kids bring to school, if it’s possible. For the little ones, do they need to bring everything in their backpack home? A lot of items can be left at school, such as an extra sweater in case its cold. It may behoove you to buy items for home and school so they don’t have to carry things back and forth like hats and gloves, or even snow pants. If they’re able to leave some items at school, there is less for you to think about in the morning. Or, try simplifying breakfast if that’s a challenge for your family.
Look for recipes that utilize a slow cooker (if you have one) and that can last for 5 days. That way, you only have to cook once for the school week. There are so many sites out there with great recipes that take minimal effort, and last more than a day. If you’re staying up too late, this can be a hard habit to break. Oftentimes, this is the only “me time” parents get, and giving that up for sleep can be tough. For a few days, try heading to bed earlier and waking up earlier. You may find waking up before everyone else to have time to yourself is more satisfying that staying up late.
Implement! Try out a few things. Maybe you’ve got more than one challenge in the morning - don’t take it all on at once. You’ll go crazy and end up walking away from the effort itself. Start with one challenge and take baby steps to fix that one thing. If you’ve determined you want to go to bed early, skip the nightly meal prep and backpack prep. Just focus on changing your sleep routine and gauging how you feel physically and emotionally after a week of change. If you love it, keep going and take on another challenge if need be. If you hate it or it just isn’t for you, try something else. It’s okay to not like the results you see. You can adjust to make it work for you.
Make a habit out of it. This is also hard! Luckily there are some tried and true ways to developing better habits.
Try to commit yourself to 30 days of your new routine.
It will take some time to develop new habits. After 30 days, if you aren’t adjusting well or decide you need to try something new, go ahead. Know that you gave yourself the right amount of time to develop a better habit and just because it wasn’t the right strategy, it doesn’t mean you should give up.
The key is to be consistent and make a daily habit.
If you only go to bed early once or twice a week, you won’t develop the habit. It has to be daily, or at least 5 days/week. By completing a task everyday, you’re reminding yourself daily that you’re trying to make a change. Occasionally changing up your routine will not be effective.
Try and form a ritual out of your new habit.
Organize your things for the morning at the same time every night, and do it in the same way. Or, form a bedtime routine for yourself and do it every night at the same time.
Grab a journal and write down how you feel when you’re forming your new habit.
Does waking up early make you feel better? Is there something in particular that can help you fall asleep easier and earlier such as a book or sipping tea? If you’re making bulk recipes for the week, write down which ones work and ways to streamline the cooking process. Know that there will be bumps in the road and that’s okay.
If after awhile you just can’t form the habit, don’t fret. Maybe it’s not the right “habit” for you. Never feel afraid to start back at square 1. It doesn’t mean you failed, but rather that you realized something that doesn’t work for you. Morning struggles will never truly disappear when you have kids, but you can minimize them with proper planning and a little elbow grease.