Becky Kennedy, author of Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be, reminds us that arguing with our children only means we’re human. Still, it’s not the way we want to start our day before dropping our children off at school.
Mornings can be tough. Trying to motivate children to get ready and gather everything needed can feel like running a marathon. Conflicts can pump stress hormones into our bodies, leaving us and our children feeling irritable all day. If frustrations result in a conflict, apologizing and re-establishing closeness is an important priority.
Here are some ideas for staying connected and happy in the mornings and still making it to school on time.
Prepare the night before
Get your child’s homework folder ready. Gather clothes to avoid arguing about what to wear during the morning rush. Have children help pick what they want for lunch and help make it if they are old enough. Put aside diapers and extra clothes for a preschooler.
Use “if-then” strategies to make times for connection
“If you get ready by 7:30, we can read a story or play a game” or engage, however briefly, in some other pleasurable activity that unites you before school.
Create reassuring separation rituals with young children
Plan how you will say good-bye at preschool. “We’ll go on the yard, and we’ll have two hugs and a high-five.” Having a ritual ensures that leaving a child isn’t abrupt.
Don’t waffle. Once your child has adjusted to school, it’s important not to let them keep trying to convince you to stay longer, a process that confuses both of you.
Make a mental bridge providing something to look forward to when you pick your child up. “Mom is leaving, and we’ll have fun when I pick you up. Maybe we can go to the park.”
Treat school resistance matter-of-factly
“I understand that you don’t feel like going to school today. Sometimes I don’t want to go to work, but we still have to go.”
Listen to music in the car, offer a hug at drop-off
Music and hugs have something in common: they release pleasure hormones in the brain. We want children to have happy memories about their mornings with us so they can concentrate their energies on new learning at school.