And getting up in the morning to go to school is harder yet.
No one likes to answer to that alarm clock and march like a soldier out the door while you’re still sorting through your dreams and collecting your wits.
However, while we all would like to ignore mornings and hope that they would go away. They don’t.
In fact, they are key to how the rest of the day turns out.
I’ve already laid out how I use my morning routine helps me stay productive and sane as a home business owner.
And the same goes for my children.
How you start off the day is key for how your children succeed at school . . . and feel at the end of the day.
So here it is . . . My recommendations for a solid morning routine that gets your kids off to the right start:
Morning Routine Essential #1: Drink Water
The first and last thing your body needs (and every few hours in between) is water. It helps your body move toxins out and nutrients around. It keeps your blood circulating so your immune system can get around. And it plumps up every cell in your body so each cell can do their job properly.
Most of us don’t get enough of this good stuff.
Most of us reach for caffeine or sugar to get us going. But nothing revs you up like a good glass of water.
Just like I tell my kids to wash their face in the morning, I also tell them to wash their insides with a glass of water before anything else.
As I’ve explained before – after loads of research – for the safest, cleanest, purest drinking water, I use a countertop distiller.
Morning Routine Essential #2: A Good Breakfast
Of course this may seem obvious to you. But actually – although over 90% of Americans say a good breakfast is important, less than half eat breakfast regularly. And unfortunately the same goes for our kids.
Breakfast is the king of all meals. Your body has been fasting for at least 8-10 hours and needs fuel. Your brain – the hungriest organ in the body – is particularly ravenous.
I focus on making sure my kids have a good dose of protein, a nice dollop of fats and some whole grain carbs. While I try to get fruits and veggies into there w/ kale on eggs and blueberries in oatmeal, it doesn’t always work out (I’ll admit). But they eat a lot of these as snacks and at dinner.
- Your body uses protein to build neurotransmitters, enzymes and muscles – all things your kids will be using at school. I make protein the focal point of breakfast since they have so much construction work to do each day.
- Your brain is a big lump of fat. So your children need good fat to build their brains. They use it to make hormones, too. I’ve had plenty of arguments with pediatricians and health department officials about why fats are so good for kids’ health.
- And while I try to stay moderate on carbs so our blood sugar levels don’t go haywire, I’m not an absolute paleo eater. Instead I focus on getting some slow-digesting whole grains in them for easy energy and B-vitamins.
Some breakfast favorites?
- Egg sandwiches with chopped raw kale and cheese
- Scrambled eggs with kielbasa and herbs
- Steelcut oats with eggs mixed in, fruit and nuts (yep, I know it sounds weird but it’s delicious and nutritious!)
- Multigrain pancakes (frozen from the weekend) with a hardboiled egg on the side
- A good smoothie with a hardboiled egg
Most of these I prep enough for several breakfasts so I don’t have to scramble – literally – every morning. Especially for my eldest who’s out the door before 7.
Morning Routine Essential #3: Good Company
I grudgingly get myself up every morning at 6:40 so I can stand in the kitchen while my daughter eats her breakfast . This way I can talk with her a little.
Nothing big usually comes up. But even in the 15 minutes we have together before she has to go to high school, the words exchanged are invaluable.
When kids have some time to talk with their parents in the morning, it gets their brain humming. A little morning conversation:
- Gets their brain going with verbal skills way before the teacher is calling on them;
- Spurs their memory into action as they file away stories;
- Gives them some facts and info to chew on for the day;
Better yet, like I’ve said before, every little bit of time together counts. Simply by being there each morning with her while she eats breakfast, I communicate to my daughter that I’m there for her. As she heads into the maelstrom of high school, she knows she carries a firm foundation with her.
Morning Routine Essential#4: Less Stress
Now, inevitably there are going to be mornings where you overslept, everyone’s grumpy and your son can’t find a pair of matching socks for the life of him.
Stressful mornings are part of life.
But here’s why it’s important to minimize it . . .
Stress blocks your brain power. Stress shrinks the hippocampus part of your brain, responsible for memory formation. And it interferes with your frontal lobe working right. This part helps you problem solve and manage your behavior.
When your kids have to race through a stressful morning, they start the school day with a brain that’s handicapped by stress hormones.
In our household we emphasize getting everything organized the night before – clothes laid out, soccer gear together, backpacks packed, lunches set up, breakfast prepped. Often enough something’s left undone. But overall the more we adhere to this, the saner our mornings are.
When my kids were younger and at home with me, we started the morning with a quiet listening exercise that helped us all tone down and get centered. And it was a good way for me to make sure their ears were working.
Morning Routine Essential #5: Discipline
As much as we try to turn down the stress of the mornings, there are some times when you need to turn the pressure up. Sometimes it’s an occasional stern lecture on an issue one of our children is dealing with. Sometimes it’s an overall shift in expectations for the morning.
When our son was having a difficult time managing his behavior in school last year, we added some extra farm chores to his morning list of to-do’s. By having these additional responsibilities, he started the day with an understanding of what was expected of him.
As his behavior reports at school improved, we pared this down to basic chores like cleaning his room and making his bed.
And I still say goodbye to each child every morning with a brief reminder to:
- Be aware and alert;
- Monitor their behavior;
- Be respectful; and
- Be organized at school.
Morning Routine Bonus Option#6: Exercise
My daughter needs her sleep more than exercise each morning after doing soccer and homework straight up to bedtime. However, if you have the time, a little activity is a great way to help your children wake up and get focused.
As I explained a couple weeks ago, exercise is one of the best school success ingredients out there.
Many a morning, my son shoots some basketball or either my husband or I go out and throw the football a little with him. Boys in particular have ants in their pants. They developmentally tend to have a harder time sitting still and focusing than girls. This little bit of activity can make the school day start more smoothly.
Establish A Good Morning Routine And Watch What Happens
As we’ve become more diligent about mornings, our whole day has changed. Our children come home feeling better about their day and more confident about what they learned.
Mornings can make the difference. And – as I laid out here – you can make the difference in the morning with a good routine.
Do you have some morning routine elements to add? Please share so we can all start the day off with our best foot forward.