One of my most frequently asked questions is how to improve mornings - whether it's getting out of the house or navigating drop-offs at daycare, preschool, or grade school. Parents often say, "I am not a peaceful parent in the mornings!" It's hard to have empathy and patience when you have PLACES TO GO! Mornings are hard. I'm right here in the trenches with you. Here are my best suggestions!
Spending even five minutes of the morning filling your child’s love cup with some cozy time gives you both an oxytocin burst - that bonding hormone is profoundly help. I get up before my daughter and she joins me on the couch and climbs into my lap still at age 7 to cuddle. Snuggling also reduces our cortisol levels - decreasing our stress level in the morning has a lasting impact on our days. Make it a routine. You’ll both love it.
Get Your Child Laughing!
Adding some playfulness to your morning is a magic solution to morning struggles. My husband wakes up our daughter in his puppy character, Puffins, each morning. Maybe you suggest stomping like elephants or hopping like bunnies on the way to the car and lead the way doing your best animal impression.
Play Some Music!
Music is so helpful in just about every situation. You can start the day off with a silly wake up song or if your child is slow to “come to terms with the morning” as we say in our family, then have some soothing nature sounds going. Singing is a a natural anti-depressant and lowers stress hormones. We have a “Pump It Up” playlist to listen to on the way to school to shift the energy.
Try "The Kissing Hand"!
This sweet children’s book tells the story of a little raccoon who is feeling afraid to go to school. His mama raccoon offers to kiss him on the inside of his paw so he can press it to his face anytime he needs a little more love. This book has helped so many families - parents and children alike. We've continued to use it over the years. The book still makes me misty-eyed. #socialworker
I know this is tricky but creating time to spend five minutes roughhousing at home or getting to school a tad early to allow for some time for playing together is a great tool to use to ease drop-off struggles! Whether you do some time on the swings, start your day off racing down the slides, or just play chase, this will make both of you laugh, relax, and feel more settled to start the day.
Offer A Memento!
You can draw a little heart on their hand and ask them to draw one on yours. When you miss one another throughout the day, tell your child you'll both look at your hearts. Send a photograph of the family in your child’s backpack. Tuck a little love note in their lunch or jacket pocket. Make sure their favorite stuffy is tucked inside of their bag. You can do this as a surprise or work with your child to create an idea together. You will be with them all day long in one of these ways!
Develop A Hello & Goodbye Ritual!
We all benefit from daily routines that fill our love cup. What could you create with your child? A secret handshake? Throughout her three years of preschool, my daughter and I would do a “hug hug kiss” - her creation which we did at both drop-off and pick-up every day for three years. Sending our children off with a special moment is an opportunity for a micro-connection and feel good!