Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - January 2014

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Beat the morning madness Tips for getting out the door in good time and good spirits By RACHAEL L. NEVINS HVP Chatroom A s the school year wears on, getting ready in the morning can become increasingly challenging. It's especially easy to let things slide when mornings are dark and summer vacation is a distant dream. If you find that you are dreading the start to each day, here are six ways to get out the door without rushing so much — and maybe even with some enjoyment. What do you do to make the morning routine go smoother? "It REALLY helps to plan the night before. Pick out all clothes and put everything in its place before the morning comes and you are tired and groggy." 1. Do as much as you can the night before Evenings are busy, too, so combine preparations for the morning with the tasks you already do at night. Pack lunches as you make dinner, set the table for breakfast as you clear the table after dinner, and help your children choose and lay out clothing for the next day as they get ready for bed. 2. Wake up before the kids, if possible Giving yourself even just 10 minutes to do something for yourself can help you respond to your children with equanimity later on. Use the time to take a shower and get dressed. Brew some coffee. Read. Meditate. Or write the day's to-do list. You will find that you wake up more easily if you begin the day by treating yourself. 3. Change what isn't working Tweak your routine until you find the best flow. See what happens if you eat breakfast in your pajamas, for example, even if you've been getting dressed first for years. 4. Eat a simple sit-down breakfast together Plenty of nutritious foods require little to no preparation: whole wheat — Gizella DiVenere, Saugerties cereals or toast, nuts and peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, cheese, and fruit. If you want a hot breakfast, try making oatmeal from steel-cut oats overnight in a slow cooker. 5. Listen to music In fact, ban all other media. Not only can watching TV or checking email on your phone distract you from your priorities, but listening to the news on the TV or radio can be distressing to your children, and even to yourself. Listening to music, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce stress. 6. Teach the kids to pitch in With clear instructions and gentle guidance, even 2-year-olds can help put things away. Preschoolers can make their own beds and clear the table. Older children can set the table and pack their own lunches. Mornings will go more smoothly, and your children will learn that caring for the home is everyone's job. "For lunches, I divide our snacks into snack bags and have a snack bin. My daughter grabs what she wants and lunch is less of a fight. For breakfast, we do index cards of different choices laid out the night before. It makes it so much easier." — Jessica Paterson, Hyde Park "Incentives. They each have a checklist for the night before and that morning and when complete they get something of their choice. But most times I just do a silly happy dance and hug and praise them for making a great start to their and MY day." — Stephanie Secreto, New Windsor "Never wake up." — Thomas Rogers, Millbrook Rachael L. Nevins is a freelance writer and mother of two. n Hudson Valley Parent 15

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