Steps to a Peaceful Morning
STEPS TO A PEACEFUL MORNING ROUTINE
A peaceful morning routine begins with a well-rested child and parent.
- If you are waking to an alarm, you are not getting enough sleep.
- If you must wake your child, your child is not getting enough sleep.
- If you have a little morning lark who wakes at the same time every morning, no matter what time she fell sleep, beware, when she wakes crabby, she too is short on sleep.
- The key is knowing how much sleep you and your child need.
Adults require an average of 8.25 hours.
Toddlers need an average of 13-14 hours in a 24-hour period. This includes nap.
Preschoolers need an average of 12 hours
and school age require 10-11.
To determine how much sleep your child truly needs, maintain a sleep journal.
- Note what time your child falls asleep at bedtime and for naps.
- What time she wakes and if you had to wake her.
- Total the amount in a 24-hour period.
- And note your child’s general mood. If she’s energetic and generally in a good mood throughout the day, she’s getting the sleep she needs.
Establish a wake time that allows you to arise 30-60 minutes before your children.
- If your day begins with children jarring you from sound sleep, you start the day in the “red zone,” of tense energy.
- Instead, by waking before the children, you begin your day caring for YOU.
- During this time, do something that brings you to a sense of calm energy. It can be anything – dressing without feeling rushed or invaded by others, meditating, journaling, exercising or simply savoring a cup of coffee or tea in peace. This will set the tone for the rest of the morning.
Determine a consistent morning wake time for your child that allows her to prepare for the day without feeling rushed.
- If during the week your child must wake at 6:30 AM, but on weekends or non-school days sleeps until 7:30 or 8:00 AM, its as though your child travels to a new time zone on the weekend. This disrupts the body clock making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Once you’ve established the wake time maintain it within 15-30 minutes, seven days a week – even if this means waking your child. A consistent wake time is your cornerstone. The rest of the day’s schedule builds on this point.
Create with your child a morning routine.
- If your child is young, together draw a visual plan of the morning routine.
- Lay it out like a 6-frame cartoon. In each frame have your child draw a picture of one step of the routine.
- Label each step. For example: Wake, cuddle, dress, toilet, brush teeth and hair.
- Only when all these tasks are complete does your child leave the sleeping area.
- Every transition, stop/start, shift from upstairs to downstairs, or from one room to another opens you to potential power struggles. Maintain this routine seven days a week – even on the weekends.
1. If your child struggles to dress or dawdles, BEFORE he demands your help offer it. Say to him, “Is today a day you can dress yourself, or would you like help?”
2. If he needs assistance do so, and then nudge by saying, “Okay, today I will help you, but pretty soon, maybe even tomorrow you’ll be ready to dress yourself.” One day he will.
3. If selecting the outfit is the issue, together with your child check the weather and make a choice the night before.
- Take a photo and remind him, this will be his outfit tomorrow.
- If, in the morning he changes his mind, say to him, “This is what you chose. Next time you can choose something different. You are reinforcing the idea that in your family, you do what you said you would do. Being trustworthy is foundational to healthy relationships.
Ban the use of all electronics in the morning.
- Think about how many meltdowns occur because of a request to turn off electronics.
- The use of electronics in the morning can also encourage early wakeups. Young children do not know what time it is, but they do know they can watch electronics and tend to rise earlier to do so!
Eat breakfast together.
- Let breakfast be a time to connect and calm before separating for the day.
- Avoid the debates over what to serve by establishing ahead of time a breakfast menu. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday serve the same breakfast. On Tuesdays and Thursdays serve a different breakfast but always the same. On Saturday and Sundays, you can serve a variety of your favorites.
- Always include a protein, carbohydrate, fruit/vegetable, and a little fat, as well as something you know each person likes.
- A predictable menu allows everyone to know what to expect, ends the debates about what to eat and stops you from becoming a short order cook. Now you can simply sit down together and enjoy the meal.
- If does not eat, serve or send a mini meal for 2.5 hours later.
Get outside for exposure to morning light and physical exercise.
- Morning light sets the body clock, allowing the brain to know when to be awake and when to sleep.
- Large muscle play such as running, jumping, digging, lifting, pedaling, climbing is little kid weightlifting. It floods the body with soothing and calming hormones.
- If you do not have time or space at home, drive to school fifteen minutes early. Park the car two to three blocks from the building and walk in.
- If the weather is poor dance, march, pick up feet and let children walk on their hands inside.
- Use a color timer to let your child know when play time will be finished.
Leave for school or other social outings.
- If you are already outside, you can now simply get in the car, or walk to school.
- Since your children are used to doing this during the week, on weekends you can head out for family fun! At night, get your child and yourself to bed so that in the morning you are rested and ready to go.
Set alarms on your phone to remind you to begin sleep routines for both you and your child. A peaceful morning begins with a restful night.
It may seem difficult or unrealistic to set up a morning routine like this one, but if you commit to it, it truly does make everything better. Let’s be honest, what is happening now is not working. Why not try? We think you will be pleasantly surprised, just as the thousands of other parents we have worked with have found. Let us know how it goes.
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