How to defrazzle your mornings

Frazzled mornings

When my kids were younger, mornings were a beast!

I read every parenting book I could about how to discipline children.  We tried beads in a vase, stickers on a chart and stars on the calendar to reward good behavior.

What bothered me most is all the parenting books worked when you had just one child testing their independence.  But who was writing for the mom with three kids all doing something different … at the same time???

Something happens when they know you are outnumbered! (just saying)

Anyway, we were able to implement some great logical consequences and they worked better than all my yelling.  But mornings?  That was a different story altogether.  It seemed no matter what I tried, my mornings were hectic and often ended with someone screaming and someone crying – usually me.

The day I pointed the remote control at two arguing boys and clicked “off” was the day I decided to get serious about getting a grip on my mornings.

The good news is it didn’t take too many changes to bring some order and peace. But I had to be a detective and get to the root of the problems.  Here’s what I did differently.

1.  Turn off the TV.  Completely.  I tried everything before coming to this decision.  I tried letting them watch it for 15 minutes first.  I tried making it a reward. I tried watching the news, hoping it would bore the kids. Nothing worked.  So I just turned it off.

Something happened in the quiet.  We all started to focus more easily.  My blood pressure dropped.  Bickering stopped. Turns out that even the background noise of the TV was causing issues.

That decision was made over 10 years ago, and we still don’t have the TV on in the mornings.

2)  Begin the morning the night before.  Prepare for the morning before you go to bed. This means backpacks packed, papers signed, field trips planned for, meeting notes ready, books gathered, etc. For some this means picking out what to wear. Or setting out two options.

This might even include what to have for dinner.  Wouldn’t that be nice to know so you could get things in the slow cooker before leaving for work?

If you incorporate this into your nightly routine, I promise your mornings will be smoother.

3)  Remember that your kids’ choices aren’t about you.  I know it doesn’t feel like it.  I know every towel dropped on the floor, every dirty shirt draped on the couch, every student-of-the-week poster forgotten until the last minute feels personal.

I know everything in you wants to tell your family how selfish they are when they make choices that impact you.  But take a deep breath and allow natural consequences to be the teacher – not guilt.

When I started allowing my kids to experience the reality of their choices, I was able to separate my emotional response and still show kindness.

What does this look like?  First you have to make sure you have taught your children how to plan ahead. Based on where they are developmentally, take time to go over the coming week on Saturday morning. What assignments need to be worked on?  Do we need poster board?  What about money for a field trip or pizza on Friday?  Teach your kids how to be prepared.

Then, once you feel confident you’ve equipped them, allow them to take responsibility.  You may still give gentle reminders, but if they aren’t ready, then the consequences are on them.  This might be tougher on you, but sometimes we learn best from our mistakes.  And wouldn’t you rather your kids make mistakes in the protection of your home?

4) Get up earlier than the family.  Can you get up 20 minutes earlier than everyone?  Five minutes to wake up and get a cup of coffee, and then 15 minutes for yourself and the Lord?   Just a few minutes to prepare yourself for the morning will make a difference.

We have an enemy who wants your mornings chaotic.  He wants you to send your kids and husband off for the day stressed.  He wants conflict in your family.  He wants you to feel overwhelmed before you begin the day.

But that’s not God design for you. Look at these two beautiful Psalms:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  Psalm 90:14

“But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.”  Psalm 59:16

What a difference it makes when I start the day with my mind on the Truth.  About myself.  My family.  And God’s power and protection. Invite God into your day as an active participant, not a bystander, and see what happens.

I’d love to hear from you today.  What problem do you have in the morning?  Leave a comment and let’s see if we can find a solution together.

Thanks so much for joining me today.

In His love,

Glynnis

P.S. If you haven’t read my book I Used to Be So Organized, you might enjoy it.  I share more of my story with more insights into how to bring order out of chaos.

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Comments

  1. Tina H says

    Good Morning! I’ve found playing classical music or other Christian arrangements is a great way to “wake-up” the home & everyone in it! The volume can be turned down or off as the activity increases and more communication needs to takes place. It’s nice to start the music before the children must rise allowing for a gentler wake-up – preferred to me yelling, “Time to get up, get out of bed!” When they hear the music they can prepare themselves to rise. Some may need reminders still, but they seem to be more accepting.

  2. Rebekkah says

    Reading this post is a reminder to me to praise HIM for my mornings. This is an area of peace for my family. Not sure how it happened but my boys were able to whine to me and stress me out but not my husband. My husband has never been a screamer but the boys know when he means business. He took over the mornings for the most part and they are fabulously smooth. But we don’t turn on the TV and somewhat prepare the night before with having backpacks ready the night before. When we wake on school mornings it’s all about getting ready and out the door. PRAISE GOD!

  3. Nichole says

    I so needed this this morning, Glynnis! I’m actually in tears at #4…I’ve never thought about satan wanting to ruin my morning with my kids and husband. But that’s what’s happened in my home and I’m not going to let it continue!!! We all get up around 6-6:15, which is pretty early. I am not a morning person to start with, so PLANNING to get up earlier seems like torture! But the yelling and reminding (and reminding and reminding!) and bad attitudes have to stop. If that means I get up 15-20 min earlier than everyone else so I can start my day with God, then I’ll do it :) I’ve been reading and praying after they get on the bus, but as of tomorrow, that’s changing!
    I also have your book and plan to get it back out today! I need encouragement and ideas right now.
    Thanks again!!

  4. Denise says

    Being realistic is very important. Sandwiches are a better dinner choice for a busy day than something that requires lots of prep (wishful thinking). Paper plates, sandwiches and chips with beach music playing in the backgound can ease us all at the end of a busy day.

  5. Lou says

    This is a great article for teachers like me to copy and send along with the weekly class newsletter! Great job Glynnis!

  6. Suzi says

    Great post. The psalms really blessed me, thank you. Our children are adults but I found turning off the tv to be the biggest positive factor in our morning routine. I applaud you for sharing that. Wish my daughter would implement it with her children but she tries all the things you mentioned like 15 minutes or rewards. Nothing works until you eliminate it altogether. Also planning the night before is so important but I realize that moms are exhausted by the time they finish the nighttime ritual of dinner, bath, bedtime and just fall into a chair and maybe check in with their social media friends. And you moms deserve a few minutes to yourselves! So I am gonna start praying God will implement these two things for my grandchildren’s parents.

  7. Heather says

    This post was exactly what I needed, more than I can even tell you. I have been struggling with mornings so much lately. It does feel as if the lack of helping out and getting ready etc is personal and I have been letting it effect my relationship with my child. This morning I am going to start just letting things be! I am going to start the change today! Thank you!

  8. Mary says

    Glynnis,
    You are like my long-lost twin! Every devotion you post on Encouragement for Today speaks to me so directly. (I confess I don’t follow your blog per se, tho today’s was quite helpful). Please don’t stop contributing to the devotionals. I always sit up and take notice when I see your name as the author for that day. And thank you most of all for your honesty and transparency. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my particular struggles of motherhood, faith, and life in general. Maybe I’m normal after all!
    -Mary

  9. Amy C. says

    Getting my 8 year old out of bed in the mornings! Going to bed earlier doesn’t help either. Can’t blame the kid…I’m not a morning person either. But her brother is! And oh he wants to be “helpful”. Leave her alone! He loves her dearly but I can’t get through to him it escalates the problem. Thankfully she is 90% past the “clothes” don’t “feel right” issue that went on for under a year! Lots of prayers went into that one. Thanks for these insights!

  10. Leta says

    I only have two children, but because they are so close in age, it was often said “it was worse than having twins”. They are 15 months apart. So as soon as one would move out of a phase, the other always seemed to move into it. So, like you, I did try many morning routines, but the one that worked best for me was absolutely no television. No matter how it was monitored, it always seemed to bring chaos to our morning. I do live by the other suggestions as well, even trying to figure out supper in the crock pot ~ sometimes, but getting up a bit earlier than they do and forcing them to focus on getting ready instead of what is on the tube are great “rules to live by”. Thanks for your advice!

  11. says

    This is a great post and I wholeheartedly agree with all the things you suggest here. For the most part, we do all of them. And for the most part, we have fairly peaceful mornings.

    My issue is how to let the natural consequences unfold when everyone knows I have the power to rescue them–and the natural consequences mean further disruption for me.

    For example, both of my older children (ages 15 and 12) have a hard time getting in the car on time. We’ve threatened to leave without them, but the reality is, if I take my younger child to school, it just means I’ll have to make two trips to come back for the older ones. We are too far away from school for them to walk or ride a bike. I would never be comfortable with them calling a cab. I am a stay at home mom, so I don’t know how I’d just go about my day with the child home, missing a whole day (which, as you know in middle school and high school is very difficult to make up–at least in our kids’ schools!) when everyone knows I could very well make another trip, but I don’t want to!!!!

    We’ve had issues with a child coming up to me last minute and ask me to print something off the computer. Doing so will make everyone late.

    Or one child who always tells me at the very last minute that she needs a book for required reading. I would need to rearrange my whole day to go looking for it in the book stores, instead of ordering on Amazon and having it shipped in a few days.

    Do moms actually do this? Leave without their kids to let the natural consequences unfold? Or refuse to print the item so that the other kids won’t be late? Or refuse to get the book last minute?

    How do you do that, and still demonstrate empathy? I feel like I’m saying, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you. This stinks. But I won’t help you.”

    Know what I mean?

    I realize there is a bigger issue of teaching the kids to be responsible. I get that. I just don’t know how that truly plays out in real life. I always cave in.

    I feel like a wimp sometimes. :)

    • MrsG says

      I’m a mom of 8, youngest is 17. I may be misunderstanding, but I think if you can do what your child needs, it would show love…Mom did her best…and you doing it gives you the open door to say something – in a kind, mannerly way – to help them learn for next time.
      But if it’s gonna upset the whole family situation, or make a ridiculously difficult problem for you, you have every reason to say, “No, dear, I’m so sorry, but I CAN’T do that for you, even though I WANT to.”
      This response also shows love and mercy, if said in kindness, and they will still get the lesson. (explain a bit if needed)
      Sometimes at that point my kids come up with a genius idea of how we COULD do what they need.
      Do we still say no?
      It seems to work really well to do what they said. It makes us be humble, and that provides a good example to them. And, while we do it, lovingly, we STILL, get the opportunity to gently say, “But please try to remember so-and-so next time?”
      The kids will love ya for it ! Winning their hearts is key !!!
      : )

  12. Tabitha says

    I would like to know what you mean by natural consequences in the morning. My husband drops off my oldest son in the morning as he goes to work. Not sure what natural consequences are okay, when the adult will be late for work (no jacket on a cold day? no food for lunch? no shoes?) Totally agree with allowing natural consequences when they are at home but not sure what is really okay outside the home. Can you be more specific to help a newer mommy understand:) THANKS!

    • says

      One of the biggest fights my husband and I ever got into was when I was ready to take my child to church without shoes (natural consequences for dawdling after repeated reminders) and he refused to let me do that.

      So, yeah…I’m wondering how that plays out in real life, too.

  13. Kelly says

    Love this post! Good ideas and good reminders. Our days are so much better when we start off with a pleasant morning. The only difference for us is that sometimes we do better with background noise from Pandora or the TV while we’re getting ready – we’re not morning people so it helps us wake up and focus. : )

  14. Rebecca says

    -last minute signatures frazzle me
    -dawdling children despite, (or perhaps because of) timing reminders stress me out

    One of mine is old enough to tell time and is a HUGE help in the morning with the 2 littler ones. The middle is learning to tell time but is biggest dawdler….she has her own sense of time and it doesn’t mirror mine.

  15. Kelly Smith says

    Glynnis,
    I love the new blog, and my son is terrible at being self-sufficient. And he’s 14. I tried the beginning of the year at letting him suffer his own consequences and he was late so often that it was going to and that affecting his drivers license… I had even let the school counselors and his teachers know ahead of time that I was going to be allowing him to make his own mistakes. But he refuses to be accountable. So I have found that at this point, I still have to be the “nag”, and I told him I wouldn’t be a “nag” if he would be awake!

    But I have to say that it is so true about waking up earlier than your kids, I started four months ago waking up 20 minutes early and I pray and have my coffee and make sure that God is in control before I have any contact with anyone else, and it makes a world of difference!

    Blessings,
    Kelly S

  16. says

    Hi Glynnis,

    We like to get things ready the day before too, if the morning will be rushed or an early one. We’ve found that putting praise music on when the family is all getting a little testy helps us too. With the volume still down low, but audible seems to be helpful for us.

    Happy Easter, Glynnis,
    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jennferdougan.com

  17. says

    Wise words. We found the same over the years. I would forget though. We click off during the days or nights whenever we get a little wild feeling!

  18. says

    This post simply cracked me up! Here I tred water with my three young boys (as in the oldest is just graduating kindergarten) and suddenly I feel like things will get a little more chaotic in the years to come! No! Say it ain’t so! I did feel accomplished for doing a few points you mentioned…but your book is one I will add to my list. Thanks!

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