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Managing the morning grumpies

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Tips for a good morning

Some people are naturally morning people and some are naturally and most definitely not. Most people are somewhere in between, with many who think they are not morning people but who really just need adequate rest. We are not morning people. At all. Not a single one of us.

Tips for a good morningThanks to the demands of the world around us, we often have to be up early in the morning anyway. Much as we might like to, neither my husband nor I have been able to find jobs that start around noon, and as much as many school districts are starting to shift start times later, 10:00 a.m. is a bit later than they have in mind. As such, early mornings for us are often a minefield of grumpiness. It's when conflicts are likely to erupt, misunderstandings arise, and -- because mornings set the tone for the day -- bad days begin.

Being aware of this family tendency, while a good start, doesn't change the fact that mornings are hard around here. We're constantly on the lookout for ways to ease our mornings -- aside from turning off the alarm clock and just going back to sleep.

Preparation is key

Spending 15 minutes the night before getting some things ready has done wonders for morning household harmony. While it's good practice anyway, things like choosing clothing, making lunches, and having backpacks and briefcases ready are essential to smooth mornings for us. We also make sure we have plenty of fast breakfast options; food can be on the table in 30 seconds to 1 minute.

My favorite thing, though, is the coffeemaker with a grinder and timer. Many people have such an appliance these days, but if you are one of the few who doesn't have one, let me tell you: It is well worth the investment. Having the coffee ready for myself and my husband makes a huge difference. No bleary-eyed early-morning coffee mistakes (which, ahem, I am known for).

Get real rest

Our mornings also go better when we get more rest, of course. Every mom I know is somewhat sleep deprived between the demands of kids, home and things outside the home. Few of us get into bed in time to get a full eight or more hours of sleep (or, heck, even six!), even though we wouldn't dream of letting our kids not get enough sleep. (And even when we make sure the kids get their rest, they are still grumpy in the morning!)

Getting rest is especially hard because I seem to hit my creative peak about 11:00 or later at night, and my husband always has more work to do. I've actually started to schedule a couple earlier nights a week. Truly! I put it in my online calendar and consciously cut back on the number of items on the to-do list that day. It doesn't always work, but it's a start. When I am better rested, I am less grumpy in the morning.

Keep quiet and cut some slack

Finally, even with rest and preparation, we find that just keeping quiet and minimizing talking help in the morning. Oh, we still chat, but we keep it very low level. No serious topics, no important decision making. We just do the basics and leave each other alone for the most part. If conflict does arise, we make efforts to cut one another some slack because we understand our morning grumpies.

If you are a family of morning people, great -- I'm happy for you. Really. We're not, however, and we really do need to think about ways to get through mornings more easily. By 10:00, or noon, we're good. But until then, we need our coffee and our quiet. Shhhh.

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