| Family First Feature |

Revamp Your Mornings

Life coach Helen Abelesz created a five-week program to help moms transform their morning rush into a calm, cheerful, relationship-building time

Devorah* had the craziest mornings, every morning.

From the moment she opened her eyes until the kids were out the door, she was racing from one thing to the next in a flurry of non-stop motion. It started with waking everyone up, changing diapers, helping the little ones get dressed, finding matching socks, and searching for the missing shoe. Next, she made different breakfasts for each child and negotiated what they wanted in their sandwiches that day.

Inevitably, there was at least one child in tears about something and another throwing a tantrum. Between resolving sibling arguments and cleaning up messes, Devorah would rattle off demands: “Brush your teeth!” “Put on your shoes already!” “Find your coat!”

She was always late out the door, and just as they finally got going, one of the kids would suddenly remember that he needed to bring something for school that day, or had left his homework on the table. There was no calm, loving send-off. Instead, Devorah would be shouting, “Go! Run! You’re late!”

By the time Devorah dropped the kids off at school, she was exhausted and just wanted to crawl into bed. She’d replay the negative exchanges that took place that morning and wish she could go back and press redo. She realized that instead of blaming her children for their crazy, stressful mornings, she needed to take the lead and make changes herself.

She turned to me. As a life coach who specializes in helping busy mothers, I’ve found that one of the most trying times of the day is the morning rush. So I developed a five-week, one-on-one coaching program — called “Calm Mornings” — where I help clients create a personalized morning schedule for their family.

When I first met with Devorah, I explained that there are six steps in all, and it starts with identifying the daily stressors.

Step 1: Talk it all out

At our first session, I asked Devorah to describe in detail a regular morning in her home. Just by talking about it out loud, she was able to identify specific issues and see patterns emerge. One easy technical solution was to think of as many things as possible that could be done the night before, so she’d have fewer things to do in the morning. In Devorah’s case, she wanted to make sure the backpacks were ready and that she or the kids would put out their clothes in advance.

Step 2: Eliminate stressors
 and time-wasters

In some houses, the primary stressor might be a slow-rising, slow-moving child. A time-waster might be a routine traffic jam at the bathroom sink. For Devorah, a daily issue she encountered actually had to do with herself: If she went to bed too late, she usually had less energy — and less overall patience — for her kids. Consequently, even normal childhood antics would stress her out in the morning. So she committed to setting a slightly earlier bedtime for herself.

As for a “time sucker,” Devorah was often monopolized by a particular child who regularly acted up in the morning. Devorah decided that she and her husband would sit down with their son at a time when everyone was calm. In a loving way, without any blame or accusation, the two parents would say that they noticed their son was having a hard time in the morning, and they wanted to help. Together, the three of them would brainstorm some ideas to try out.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 680)

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