What do your mornings look like? Do they look more like peaceful time together with your spouse and kids, or more like… chaos? Peaceful mornings are possible, but it takes a little preplanning.
Let’s talk about the ideal rituals and routines you can implement with your family. Mornings should be something to look forward to.
The Morning Ritual
I don’t like the word “routine,” so I use “ritual.” Routines are thoughtless, passive, and… boring! Those are bad things. Rituals are planned, intentional, and fun! Those are good things. Let’s do those things.
A productive morning ritual is well planned out, and that means you start planning the night before. If you pre-plan, you should be able to get up and go. Instead of spending your last few waking minutes on social media, consider using it to plan tomorrow morning.
Science is starting to show that most people’s brains are more analytical at night, and more creative in the morning 1. It’s best to use that analytical brain to plan tomorrow morning, and then jump right into fun and creative mode when you wake up.
Get your children on board. Have them lay out their clothes the night before. Make the lunches and get breakfast ready the night before. You can do almost everything… the night before.
Waking Up at Different Ages
Before your kids reach school age, there’s a good chance that they’re waking up on their own. They may not have a specific wake-up time, and they’re busting with energy. Either way, waking them up is typically either easy, or completely unnecessary.
Once your kids hit school age, you’ll likely have to wake them up. Some kids get up more easily than others. But it’s important to train your kids to wake up well. When we noticed that two of our children were sluggish and incoherent for the first 10 minutes after waking, we decided to change that.
We spent a few weeks training them to get up and immediately get their brain working. Why? Because it’s important to be alert as soon as you wake up in the event of an emergency. If they won’t wake up easily for school, they won’t always wake up easily for a fire alarm. Waking up well is a trained skill. Just ask any military drill sergeant; that’s how I learned. Your kids would rather you, not a drill sergeant, teach them this skill.
When your kids hit the pre-teen/teen stage, it’s time to put the responsibility of waking up on them. Get an alarm clock and teach them to use it. You’ll still need to make sure they’re getting up, but after a while, they’ll get used to it.
Your kids will need to brush their teeth and hair, get dressed, eat, complain about how early it is, and so on. You may want them to make their bed each day (a great habit to instill). They may even have chores to do before school. All of this needs to be organized the night before, especially if you have a house full of kids, but also for the only child.
We create time slots that rotate our kids through the bathroom. If you have multiple bathrooms, this is easier, but it’s still easy with one bathroom. The girls can be brushing their hair in the bathroom, while their brother is getting dressed in the bedroom.
Our children always eat breakfast last. That’s the best motivation to keep them on track. They never miss breakfast. But the funny thing is, before we started doing breakfast last, they would sometimes be rushing to get their teeth brushed. Weird how that works.
When it comes to getting dressed, pre-school-age children do best when their clothes are laid out for them. Kids 6-11 usually do best choosing from a few options. And kids 12 and older should be able to make their own clothing decisions (with your veto power, of course).
Idea: Play peaceful music in the mornings (worship works well) for your kids to wake up to. Try this for a couple weeks, and you will notice a difference.
Family Breakfast Time
Family dinners are fairly common, but a family breakfast? Yes, this is an essential part of a good family morning ritual. It’s a great few minutes of family time to start the day. The key is giving yourself enough time to make it peaceful, not stressful.
Even if not everyone eats breakfast, this time of sitting down and talking before the day begins, will boost everyone’s mood. It also allows your kids to discuss what they have going on that day, and any coming worries or concerns.
I don’t have the science behind it, but mornings can be an emotional time for children. It helps boost their emotional strength by having some quality time before the busy day starts.
Take the Stress Out of Mornings
Mornings can be hectic and stressful, but you can change that.
This is what works for our family:
- Wake Up Earlier – You may be thinking, “but I’m already tired when I wake up.” Waking up earlier won’t make you more tired, and if it does, just go to sleep a little earlier. Waking up earlier gives you plenty of time to get everything done, including some of the things below. And since mornings set the tone for the day, make this a priority.
- Set a Schedule – Since you’re waking up earlier, you have more time for a super productive morning pre-ritual… alone! Schedule a few things you want to get done before the kids get up. You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish in the early morning hours, before the chaos wakes up.
- Reward Yourself – Since you’re scheduling some things before you get the kids up, you should start your schedule with a reward. It’s a reward for waking up early. This could be your favorite cup of coffee, some time spent on your hobby, or simply sitting alone to think and relax. If you have a lot going on, consider journaling, prayer, and meditation 2, as they are all great pieces of a morning ritual puzzle.
- Stay Positive – Once the kids are up, it’s important to keep a positive attitude. Expect that some things won’t go as planned. Mornings often don’t. Your positivity will be contagious, and soon your entire family will start to become “morning people.” Just don’t be too loud and cheerful in the morning… the Bible talks about people like that. 3 😉
Morning shouldn’t be stressful. It should be family time before the day begins. Take the stress away, and completely change your mornings so that you can actually look forward to them.
Further Book Reading
Morning Productivity Journals
- Full Focus Planner by Michael Hyatt
- Productive Christian Journal by Brandon Hilgemann
- The Sunrise Manifesto by SaltWrap
- The SELF Journal by BestSelf Co.
- God is With You Every Day by Max Lucado
- Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon
- Jesus, Our Perfect Hope by Charles F. Stanley
- Starting Your Day Right by Joyce Meyer
Over to You!
- What do your mornings look like right now?
- What would you prefer to do differently?
- I haven’t linked any specific studies, because none are conclusive enough for my liking. What makes this seem to be true is that so many studies are starting to show this analytical/creative balance between morning and evening. And it just seems reasonable that it’d be true, and I’m a reasonable guy.
- Lectio Divina is a great option for Christian meditation. It’s the basic practice of reading a Scripture, and then praying and meditating on it.
- “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” Proverbs 27:14