How you start your day sets the tone for your entire day. If you’re always feeling frazzled and playing catchup until noon, it may be time for some “mindful mornings”. Dr. Kristen Race of Mindful Life shares morning hacks that can get things on track so you can start each day with more mindfulness.

Contributor: Dr. Kristen Race

I used to absolutely despise weekday mornings. I would be battling with everyone and everything — dealing with the old “one more minute” request from my son, or my daughter’s struggle to find “the shirt with the bubbles on it” that she had worn five days in a row.

I had the verbal equivalent of some nasty rock-papers-scissors free for alls with my partner to determine who made the lunches and who drove the carpool. I even felt at one point like my toaster, which never had issues during other times of the day, conspired to wreak havoc on my mornings by consistently burning every piece of toast I threw into it.

If just the thought of this makes you hit snooze a couple extra times, I have a few morning routine hacks that will help you start your day off right. These are the go-to moves that have changed my mornings from a Russian-roulette like experience to a time of day I absolutely LOVE!

#1: Clock In Some “Me Time”

Even ten extra minutes in the morning can give you the head start you need to get through the morning without juggling 15 tasks at once. I wake up before my kids so I can meditate and enjoy a cup of coffee. One of my girlfriend’s takes an uninterrupted shower — she has little ones and swears it is the only time of the day that she can bank on not being interrupted.

Just a few minutes of “Me Time”,  where you can get yourself prepared for your day ahead before the barrage of requests and complaints comes your way, will dramatically change your day for the better. You’ll be more prepared to triage your children’s needs without getting caught up in the menial events that will inevitably arise. Your own stress level is contagious to the whole family, so when you feel calm and at ease, they will too. 

#2: Be Prepared

You’ve probably heard this before but it’s so easy to skip. You know your mornings will go more smoothly if you just plan ahead. But that gulf between knowing and doing is as big as here to Alaska.

Take ten minutes at night to just get your clothes ready for tomorrow, or perhaps more importantly, help your kids get their clothes together or find that always missing soccer shin guard.  And if you can motivate to make yours and your kid’s lunches, you’d be amazed at how different your mornings will feel.  If that feels too daunting, start small and just peel and cut those dang carrots and cucumbers!

#3:  Create a Routine

A healthy morning routine is just as important as the bedtime routine, yet it often gets overlooked. When kids know exactly what to expect they are less likely to be resistant. Include a calming morning ritual, like a morning snuggle (get them while you can), a quick book read, or a walk/bike to school together to put you and your kids in a positive state of mind. Plus, it’s another chance to connect with each other, even if only for a few minutes.

Lastly, use time as part of your routine. We wake our kids at 7:00, and we leave the house at 7:42. EVERY DAY. These two times allow everyone to know what is happening, and keeps the morning routine going, when something random (cue the “I forgot to do my homework”) pops up.

#4: Turn Off the Tech

Does your breakfast table resemble that scene you swore you’d never let happen—with every family member crouched over their phone, shoveling food into their mouths with no acknowledgement of each other or the world around them? Or are your kids in the habit of watching cartoons in the morning because, frankly, it keeps them out of your hair?

We all get sucked into the allure of technology, but our devices are also the stresses we encounter. You’ll get some protest when you tell your kids to “turn it off,” but it won’t last long, and the brain benefits far outweigh the convenience factor. And this is one area where modeling is key to encouraging a certain behavior in your kids — if you or your partner are on your phones in the morning, you don’t stand a chance getting to know what to get your kids to buy in to! Music can be a great alternative to tech with amazing mood-changing benefits. Let your kids pick the songs, and don’t be afraid to get the dance party going at 7 AM. In our house, the comic relief of watching Dad dance has incredible stress-relieving value!

You don’t have to go to work cranky, worn out and foggy headed anymore. With these simple tips, weekday morning dread will be a thing of the past.

What are some ways you start your day more mindfully? Share in the comments below!

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