This is one of the most difficult things to do as parents. We all have triggers that make us react in ways that we later regret. One of the keys to have a smooth morning routine is to remain calm in the face of mishaps, mistakes or delays. If we have implemented the first 6 hacks we’ve covered until now, remaining calm will be much easier. Here are some tips to accomplish it:
1. Breathe Intentionally
When things start to unravel and your plans of a smooth morning start going out the window, take a breath, so you don’t make an already chaotic situation much worse. The best way to find your calm is through intentionally controlling your breath.
Start by observing your breath just as it is. Notice where the air flows through your body– upper chest, lower belly, front, back, sides. After you do that, start intentionally taking several deep breaths into your belly. You can put your hand on your tummy to feel how it fills up with air. After that, take several breaths into your upper chest and lungs. Let the air flow slowly out of your body. You can close your eyes as you do this intentional breathing.
This exercise doesn’t take a long time, just a few seconds. The goal of intentional deep breathing is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system which initiates the relaxation response, lowers heart rate, decreases blood pressure and slows down your respiration. Most people experience a sense of calm after doing this exercise, and feel more in control of their emotions.
2. Take a Break
If breathing alone doesn’t work when things start to get crazy in the morning, take a step back. Don’t add into the problem the problem by escalating the level of chaos and stress. Often chaos escalates unnecessarily and builds momentum because we leap into irrational action without logical considerations.
The best thing to do at this time is to excuse yourself for a bit, and regain your objectivity. Make sure you leave your baby in a safe place, like an empty crib or a baby swing; leave your toddler in safe area such as their bedroom or a baby proof living room; leave your older kids in a place where they can’t hurt themselves.
This will let you think through the situation and come up with constructive solutions to get things back on track. You want to rejoin your kids when you can be the voice of reason, and continue leading them into a peaceful morning.
3. Identify and Manage Your Triggers
Triggers are things our child does, says or feels that lead us an involuntary negative response, such as yelling, getting angry, shut down, spanking out of anger and even out of control sometimes. Your response to your triggers can feel automatic and completely out of proportion.
Our parenting triggers are often associated with things from our own upbringing, and from our past experiences. The most important part of addressing your parenting triggers is to realize that you’re not really reacting to your child’s behavior. You are having a strong emotional reaction because of the meaning that behavior has to you and based on your own past experiences. Instead of focusing on your child’s behavior, you should focus on what is happening within you.
I will cover this at a later time, so we can dive into the power of triggers and how we can overcome them. For the moment, focus on identifying your triggers and write them down. Then stop yourself in your tracks we you are faced with a situation that triggers you.
You may not know yet why you are being triggered, you may not know how to avoid them, you may not know how to re-parent yourself or re-wire your brain to get them under control, but you certainly can spot them and you can stop yourself before acting out on them.
4. Keep Things In Perspective
Some situations spiral out of control because we only focus on negative side of what’s happening. For example, our child may have cleaned her room, put on her clothes, prepared her backpack, and maybe forgot to brush her teeth. We then overlook all the positive things she’s done and we hone in on the one thing she hasn’t done. This makes our child feel confused, angry and without any desire to cooperate the following morning. Focus on the positive, on what was accomplished, and celebrate your child for that.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You know that not all the tasks on your child’s morning routine are equally important. Some of them can remain undone for later with no major consequences. Don’t make a rule out of this, but cut them some slack when appropriate.
5. Control What You Can Control and Let Go of What You Can’t Control
There’s no need to waste your energy trying to solve problems that are completely out of your control. Identify and resolve the issues you can solve and let go of those you can’t. For example, if you are out of milk for breakfast, there’s no need to stress about it or get mad in that moment. That’s not going to make milk magically appear. The best course of action is to brainstorm possible ways to go around the problem, and think of ways to avoid falling into the same mistake in the future.
Accept that you will be late
This is a hard one for most of us, but sometimes you will have to accept that there’s nothing you can do to avoid getting late to drop your kids to school, to take the bus or to leave them at the bus stop. It will happen sometimes!
For example, you blow up a tire just as you’re leaving your home, your baby has a poppy explosion as soon as you strap him in the carseat, your child falls on a mud puddle on your way to the bus stop… Things happen, and it’s not the end of the world. Acknowledge the situation and accept if for what it is, and move on.
7. Smile and Break The Tension
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
Having a positive attitude is half the battle in any chaotic, out of control and stressful situation. Putting a smile on your face might sound like an idiotic or pointless solution to a moment of morning craziness, but it is not. By smiling, we are not dismissing the seriousness of the situation, we are simply breaking the tension to make things more manageable.
Smiling alone helps release all those wonderful feel-good neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. This release relaxes your body and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, the simple act of putting a smile on your face can have a tremendous impact on your physical and mental state.
Furthermore, according to many scientific studies, the neurons in our brains have a synchronizing feature that keeps you in sync with who are you interacting with. Therefore, if our children see us smile, they will smile as well, improving the atmosphere in our home.
When smiling is not enough, we break the tension caused by a morning mishap, by adding fun. Yes, I am not crazy! I know it may sound counter productive to introduce a fun activity in the mist of your morning chaos. But believe me the stress released during the activity will make you and your children drain the stress and be more focused to accomplish the remained of tasks on your morning charts.
Therefore, when smiling doesn’t work, break up the tension with fun – start a pillow fight, engage in a tickle fight, put on music and dance like crazy people, play tag around the house, tell a joke… This doesn’t have to last more than a few minutes to completely transform the atmosphere in your home.
I hope this tips will help you remain more calm in the mornings. What other things do you do to avoid or dissipate stress?
Much love, Diana-