We know that stress can feel like it's almost inevitable when you have kids, especially if they're still living at home and rely on you for their daily routines.
As we prepare for the interview Carey will be doing with Dr. Rob Meeder, a local paediatrician with a primary focus on children and teenagers with mental health, developmental and school problems, we thought this blog post would be helpful to share with you. This post was originally written for the Parent CUE blog.
To join in on the conversation with Carey and Dr. Rob Meeder about helping your kids manage stress and anxiety, visit us at our Barrie Campus (20 Mills Rd. Barrie) this Sunday, or visit our Orillia Campus next Sunday (Galaxy Cinemas, Orillia).
I don’t know about you, but I never use an alarm. Alarms make me grumpy. I just wake up. I know when it’s time, even when it’s a different time than usual. . . It’s internal. I sense it. Except on this one particular morning (and maybe a couple of other mornings too) in this particular year of transitioning to being a full time working mom.
It might have been a prolonged dream that I was intent on pursuing until the happy ending, but for whatever reason on this day, I wake up at 7:27am. It takes me 30 seconds to groggily do the math and realize I only have 13 minutes to get my Kindergartener to the bus stop (15 if I’m lucky and the bus is late), and then to immediately drive my preschooler to school and myself to work. Miss the bus, and all the dominoes fall.
The chaos ensues with yelling, dragging out of bed, throwing on clothes, stuffing bags, running, ripping out hair, crying, shoving food, shoving papers, and more yelling “ Hurry. Hurry. HURRY.”
I’m sure this never happens to you. I bet your mornings go without a hitch. You probably always set an alarm, wake up cheerful, even fix a hot meal and do a family devotional before sending your kids perfectly groomed, matching, and happily on their way.
At least we made the bus that day, and I made it to work barely on time. But what unnecessary stress!
Even on most days when we all woke up on time that year, I consistently yanked them out of bed, saying in a yelling kind of way: “Hurry. Gotta make lunch, we’re out of bread. . . Where’s the checkbook? What do you mean you have to bring snacks for the whole class today? . . . Where are all those papers I’m supposed to sign?. . .Hurry! Why are you wearing that again, that doesn’t even match . . .Go change! Why don’t you ever have clean socks? Where’s your other shoe? HUR.RY!” More yelling, crying, then later apologizing. (Always apologize.)
I have learned over the years that I have the ability to set the tone for my kids as they start their day. When I send them off impatiently, in a whirlwind, hectic, frantic way, I’ve really done them, and myself, a disservice, and we begin our day a disheveled, emotional mess. Instead I have the opportunity, as a parent, to make their mornings one of the most peaceful times of the day before we all head off to the uncertainty of whatever we may face that day.
So how do you start the day in a more peaceful way? You choose less stress.
One way is to develop a consistent ROUTINE. With a little more organization and consistency, our family was able to come up with a routine that works—most of the time.
Waking up earlier, getting papers signed right after school, getting lunches, bags and outfits ready the night before, setting alarm clocks (just in case my super reliable internal alarm doesn’t go off), no technology before school, and the mismatched-sock-wearing trend helped us a ton! With just a few intentional tweaks, our mornings together are now one of my favorite times of the day.
Kids want and need routines so they know what’s expected of them. Coming up with a good system is usually hard the beginning, but when in place and enforced, it’s smooth going. If you’re naturally a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person like me, routine might be something you need to fight for, but it’s well worth the payoff when it comes to positively impacting the dynamics in your family. . .
When is the most stressful time of your day as a family? Mealtime? Bedtime? Sunday mornings? All day every day of the summer? What are some factors you can control, and what is ONE thing can you do practically to help relieve some of that stress and create a more peaceful environment for your family?
Share with the rest of us what has helped your family.
This post was originally written by Karen Wilson for Parent CUE, a resource for parents of preschoolers, elementary aged kids, middle schoolers, and high schoolers. Karen Wilson is the Chief Editor for the Parent Cue blog and a Lead Editor for Orange Books. Previously, she has worked in Education and International Business. She and her husband Mark have two children, Elijah and Sara.