Five ways to reduce the risk of a morning meltdown

Morning meltdowns are not fun for anyone. It is not only the kids and teens who fall prey to the dreaded morning meltdowns, parents can too. The morning routine is the hard work that happens before the work day even begins.  Getting everyone out of the house each morning with everything they need and a smile on their face is no easy feat. The reality is that some mornings are not going to go as planned, things are going to happen that trigger some tricky feelings in one member of the family and then this feeling quickly gets passed around. Then before you know it can turn into absolute chaos. Just the thought of having to manage morning meltdowns makes many people feel anxious and overwhelmed. 

For some of you every morning might look like you running around like a headless chook, screaming out orders, trying to find things, leaving things to the last minute while trying to keep a look of calm upon your face so it looks like you have it all under control.  For others, it may be spending hours at night over preparing to avoid any possibility of something going wrong in the morning. You might be fully prepared but are not getting enough sleep and ending up losing your temper out of sheer frustration when things don’t go to plan.  Whatever your morning routine is or how well you action it there is always the potential for a morning meltdown.

How you start the day can set stage for how the rest of your day turns out. That is why it is important to try and make it a positive experience for every in the family, including you. There is nothing worse than starting the day off with a big dose of parent guilt.  You know the kind that comes when you drop your kids off at school when they are upset or not talking to you because of what went down at home or in the car on the way to school? Add to this the feeling of anxiety that comes when you realise that you are also going to be late for work. Why? Because meltdowns take time to experience and to recover from. Meltdowns can’t always be avoided but they certainly can be reduced in frequency and intensity. Doing all you can to reduce the risk of anyone in the family experiencing a meltdown, including yourself will set your family up for having the best day possible.

Here are five ways to bring some more calm to your morning routine and reduce the risk of a morning meltdown in your home:

1. Avoid rushing: 

As soon as you yell out “hurry up, we are late” it sends the message to the brain of everyone listening that something is wrong and this triggers the fight or flight response.  When the brain goes into fight or flight mode it shuts down the rational brain which is needed for logical thought, following instructions and staying calm. Instead, it triggers the survival area of the brain and creates hyper arousal and impacts on executive functioning (organising thoughts). Therefore, hurrying can actually take up more time. If you are in a hurry you could instead say “we need to move at a faster pace now please”.

2. Be prepared 

Organise yourself a little the night before and don’t put off doing things until the morning.  Know where things are and put things in place so you are not having to go searching for them at the last minute.  But don’t over organise yourself so much that it impacts on your sleep or stress levels.

3. Have a clear routine

Stick to it every morning. Every member of the family needs to know what the routine is and what is expected of them. Keep it simple and achievable.  You should not have to repeat yourself every morning.  Instead, maybe some gentle reminders will be all that is needed. Have your kids create their own little visual morning routine chart that they can tick off as they go. This way you don’t have to constantly remind them of what they need to do.

4. Reduce potential triggers

Have clear rules and boundaries about what is ok and not ok to do when getting ready for school/work.  For example, you may choose to have a rule that there is no T.V or iPads in the morning before school. That way you reduce the chance of a meltdown when it is time to put it away and go to school.

5. Focus on the goal

Focus your thoughts on the outcome you are wanting to achieve which is to get everyone out of the house, with everything they need for a successful day and in a good mood to start the day.  When you focus on this goal it will help you remain calm even when you are triggered and will prevent you from getting stuck in unhelpful thought patterns that can easily derail you.

No matter how hard you try to totally avoid morning meltdowns they may still happen from time to time and this would be very normal. If a meltdown does occur don’t attach meaning to it. Just acknowledge the persons feelings, ask if there is anything you can do to help and don’t take it personally.  Remember, every day is a fresh start which provides you and your family with the opportunity to do it better than the day before.

Best wishes always,

Lena x

What is your best morning routine tip?  Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this page.

About the Author

The Founder of The Resilience Revolution, Lena Redman is a registered teacher and school guidance counsellor.

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