For those of us who shudder at the morning chaos, we need actionable ways to slow things down.
I awoke to her big blue eyes blinking in front of mine and her warm breath on my face.
“Mom, when do you get up?” she asked, but it was really more her way of kindly telling me to get up already.
My hand fumbled around for my phone, hoping it was early enough to tell her to go back to bed. No such luck.
“I’ll get up in just a minute, Honey,” my eyes slowly shutting against my will.
“But I’m huuunnnngrrry. I want to go downstairs now! I want you to go with me.”
I let out an exasperated breath just as I heard child number two start squawking from his room. “Okay, okay, I’m getting up,” I begrudgingly said.
We all stumble around, getting dressed to the hurried beat of “I’m hungry, I’m hungry, Mom, I’m really hungry.”
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Turning Morning Chaos Into Calm as a Sensitive, Introverted Parent
I’m not sure how it happens, on this day or any other, but somewhere in the whirlwind, I find my coffee, two matching shoes, and the kids’ backpacks just in time to load them up and head out the door (usually right before my five-year-old needs to pee REALLY REALLY BADLY!).
I’d like to say I calmly handle the chaos with grace and gently usher my two sweet kids into their classrooms, but honestly, there might be a lot of yelling — or, at best, harsh murmuring — under my breath.
This is not at all how I saw parenthood going, certainly not starting my days like this. But the more I talk to other moms, the more I hear the “Hot Mom Express” is a pretty popular ride. And while there is some solace in knowing I’m not alone, I have to wonder: Does it really have to be like this?
I’m sure it’s not anyone’s dream to frantically fly through their morning routine, but especially those of us with a lower capacity for chaos (hello, my highly sensitive parent friends) and those of us who also like our space and peace and quiet and… calm (looking at you, introverted mama with an overstimulated mind and body by 8:45 a.m.).
Surely this cannot be everyone’s lot in life, right? Right?! So I took it upon myself to find some parents out there who seem to be able to finesse the morning hours with a bit more grace and ease. And, it turns out, there are a few things we can do to turn this crazy train into more of a slower-paced one. Here’s how.
5 Tips to Start Your Day Calmer
1. Don’t let the kids wake you first; instead, master your mornings with some “me time.”
I know, I know… I love my sleep, too. And when I say love, I mean, like, love-love. Like, fifth-grade-crush-on-James-Tarkon kind of love.
So, waking up before my beloved little early risers sounds like a special sort of torture. But let’s be real, waking up to their sometimes-startling faces two inches from your eyeballs does not set the kind of tone I’d like for the day either.
Wind that clock back a smidge and do yourself a favor: Wake up before the kids, even if it is just by 10 minutes. And I mean that. Waking up on your own terms, even if that means just sitting in silence for a few minutes for some “me time,” letting your brain and body acclimate, makes a world of difference in your ability to handle whatever morning-crazy the kids have in store for you.
2. Do one thing for yourself.
There are a lot of really involved, time-consuming morning routines that people swear by. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve tried (and failed) at basically all of them. Like, getting up two hours before your kids (which would be like 3 a.m.?!) so I can get in a 10-step skincare routine after my 45-minute workout, harvest the day’s fresh herbs to make my tea, meditate for 30 minutes, and make the family a warm breakfast (after, of course, I have done my hair and makeup).
It’s just too much for me in the morning. I am not, in case you haven’t guessed, any shade of morning person. So, the idea of getting up early and forcing myself to do a bunch of things, even if those things promise to make me feel amazing, actually makes me feel like garbage.
I finally decided to just do one thing that makes me feel good, one thing that makes me feel grounded, calm, and ready-ish to start the day. For me, it’s a guided meditation (like this one from Yoga with Adriene — or any of the others on her Find What Feels Good app) that I do while I’m still sitting on my bed, with a few stretches and drinking however much water is left in the water bottle I brought to bed with me. It takes only 10 minutes and makes a huge difference.
But truly, what I do doesn’t matter. Find what works for you and do that.
3. Simplify your family morning routine — less really is more.
For most of us, getting ourselves and kids up, dressed, fed, and out the door with all our stuff is a 53,847-step process. (Plus another 75 steps once you get to the car and remember what you left inside!) It’s exhausting! (On the other hand, can I count that as my workout for the day? I mean, I have been known to work up a sweat running back and forth.)
But, again, I have to ask: Does it have to be this way? Can we simplify our mornings so that it doesn’t have to take so much work, rushing, and frantically flailing about? Consider what things absolutely have to happen and what things can wait. Get super honest about trying to cram in those last couple things before you leave, and cut them out (see ya later, breakfast dishes). In essence, allow a little breathing room into your morning.
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4. A calm morning starts the night before, so prepare as much as you can.
The quickest way to cut the chaos in half is to cut the mental load in half. I’m talking about making as few decisions in the morning as possible. Pick out your clothes the night before (for yourself and the kiddos!), have the lunches made, know what’s available for breakfast, pile the shoes up at the door… you get the drift!
An easy way to do this is to think about the things that cause you the most stress in the morning and try to address them the night before. And trust me, when you oversleep the next morning, you’ll thank yourself when kids’ lunches are already packed and ready on the kitchen counter.
5. Don’t just prep the stuff, prep the kids, too.
It’s great to have lunches packed and shoes lined up, but one of the biggest problems with getting our sweet little lovies off to school or daycare (or wherever they’re going) is that they simply don’t go along with our grand plan. And, sometimes, it’s as simple as making it the family plan instead of just the-plan-in-mom’s-head plan.
Emily D., a mom in Ann Arbor, Michigan, tells MotherUntitled.com that she swears by running through the morning the night before. “Especially to ease into new routines, I find it helpful to talk through how the next day will go,” she says. “I tell my son the simple steps of the day, things like waking up, changing clothes, and eating breakfast. I find it makes a difference to mitigate any surprises I can!”
As the evening settles down, whether it’s dinner time or bedtime, or whatever works best for you, talk to the kids about the next day; even if it’s about things you do every single day, those little brains need constant guidance. This tip has helped our household immensely when it comes to curbing morning fights and fits.
Slow, Calm Mornings Are a Sensitive Introvert’s Dream
I know, slower, more calm mornings can often seem like a fairy tale. But there are ways to guide ourselves — and our families — in that direction so it becomes more of a reality. For those of us who shudder at the chaos and feel our nervous systems frazzled by the time our morning coffee hits, we really do need to find actionable ways to slow things down.
When all else fails, take a few deep breaths and remember to go easy on yourself (and your kiddos!). There’s always tomorrow to start again.
You might like:
- 27 ‘Strange’ Things You Do Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
- Why Sensitive, Introverted Parents Seriously Need ‘Me Time’ to Stay Sane
- These 21 Things Stress Out Highly Sensitive People the Most
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