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Healthy Morning Routines with Young Children

With the feel of fall in the air and school starting up for many young families, mornings are sure to become a little bit more hectic if you don’t set consistent healthy morning routines. Many parents agree that getting the family up and ready for work and school can be really tough sometimes. Maybe your baby is sick and cranky and that means eating breakfast while comforting your little one in your arms.  Better yet, maybe your two-year-old has decided that he’d rather stay home with you then go to daycare and is literally attached to your leg as you try to walk out the door. There can be all kinds of drama at home in the morning, but thankfully we have a few tips that might make your mornings go smoother.

Studies show that children prefer routines and behave better when they have a set schedule and tasks to complete (if they are old enough to complete a task). Things go a lot more smoothly when you and your child know what to expect, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, there’s definitely a fine line between becoming too regimented and not having any structure at all. Try to make healthy morning routines fun for your kids while also motivating them to check things off their “get ready lists.”

Night before prep

Alexandra Mayzler, director of Thinking Caps, tells Parenting.com that it’s a good idea to get as much ready for the morning, the night before. Setting out outfits and shoes, setting the breakfast table, making lunches and even packing things in the car can eliminate stress the next morning. Designate a central spot for everything that needs to go out the door with you and/or the kids ahead of time. Some parents use a table, basket or counter space to collect all the items that need to go to school, work or daycare. Making sure everyone is getting enough sleep is another important factor in a healthy morning routine! It seems obvious, but it is something to evaluate and make adjustments to bedtimes if necessary. There’s handy online tools to help you gauge how much sleep your child needs for his/her age here. We’ve also previously written a few tips for families on practicing good sleep hygiene.

Early to rise

It’s tough, we know. However, getting up before your kids each morning will make the morning go much smoother. If you set the example by getting yourself ready prior to them waking up, you will have had some time to yourself and time to get organized before the chaos begins, writes Bryn Huntpalmer, mother of two and host of “The Birth Hour Podcast” in A Fine Parent, an online community for parents. When your children see that you have completed everything on your “get ready list,” it’ll encourage them to do the same. Perhaps the best part about getting up before your children is having a few minutes to drink your coffee before it gets cold!

Charts

Make charts for your kids for the tasks that need to be completed in the morning. An alternative to writing out the tasks is to replace the words with pictures of each activity by showing what action needs to be taken. Go over the steps and talk about them with your children to find any glitches and to use it as a learning experience. Encourage your children to be as self-sufficient as possible and teach them what a healthy and happy morning routine is.

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), making sure your children eat a healthy breakfast in the morning before going off to daycare or school is so important to your child’s ability to focus and learn throughout the day. Most parents don’t intentionally allow their child to skip breakfast, but when the tantrums and whining take over, it becomes the last option. Children who eat a healthy breakfast often have a better memory, better test scores, better attention span, healthier body weights, and improved overall nutrition.

Happy goodbyes

Leaving your children in the morning to get to work can be very hard on parents; guilt and fear of missing out (FOMO) definitely kick in. Research shows that children whose parents take the extra minute to give a hug, kiss or simply wave goodbye, tend to have better resilience and be more independent. Starting the day out by connecting with a parent and feeling loved and cared for will give your child the strength to get through hurdles throughout their day. You can also give your child some tools to use when he or she is missing you such as a special item or picture that they can have when they are feeling sad. If your child is old enough, share the schedule for the day so that he or she has predictability and feels safe knowing what to expect.

We’re sure that some mornings will still be crazy, but hopefully making some minor adjustments to your routine and your children’s healthy morning routines will help to make things go smoother for everyone.

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