All's Well That Begins Well: Starting The Day In A Harbor Home (Transitions Part Two)
This was, and still is, the most difficult of the transition times for me, so it is the one I spent the most time trying to get right when I was making a Harbor Home for my children. Here are a few things that I learned through the years about beginning each day well...
I love the sayings that I see on coffee mugs these days. It's like some marketing genius hid in my house for a week and then summed up the observations in a few concise phrases. "But first, coffee" "No coffee no talkee" and other bits of poetic wisdom. I can't remember a time when I didn't stumble and fumble my way through the first thirty minutes of every day. Waking up is a process for me. Not so much for my high spirited husband. He loves mornings.
When my children were very young and I was learning how to create a harbor home for them, the transition from sleep time to awake time was very challenging for me. I wanted the mornings to be a positive time for everyone with cheerful, welcoming words and traditions that we would always remember, a delicious hot breakfast each day, morning devotions, etc. I'm glad I set the bar as high as I did, because we missed that mark by quite a bit. We did, however, manage to create mornings that were peaceful. Not wonderful by the standard I set, but still good. But here's a truth: I found that the key to the limited amount of morning success that we did enjoy had a lot to do with preparations that I made the night before.
I get that there are people who love to stay up past midnight doing crafts or reading or whatever, but I discovered when I was really young that a late night creates mornings that invite conflict, chaos, and short tempers. I just didn't want to begin each day that way, and I certainly did not want my children to experience that atmosphere while growing up. I knew then and know now that well rested people are more resilient, happy, productive and emotionally well. So we had a night time routine (https://www.joyfulharborhome.com/post/the-last-moments-of-the-day-a-powerful-act-of-love-transitions-part-one) that set us up to succeed , even when we didn't exactly succeed.
One of the great life truths that I have embraced is: "The day begins the night before." This old adage is the one that encouraged me to make a crucial life change thirty five years ago: I set my coffee pot to make the morning coffee shortly before I wake up. This is a non negotiable. Another non negotiable is that the kitchen is clean when I go to bed. These two simple evening preparations give a kick start to each morning and allow me to begin the morning routines without fuss. If you don't need coffee but prefer another morning beverage, let me encourage you to have it prepared the night before. Whatever you need to get going, have it ready.
So here are a few other life hacks I discovered that made my mornings while managing children more positive:
Be ready to offer food right away. If your children go to school, they may have breakfast available when they arrive. But do you know what school breakfast consists of? Check it out before you rely on it to nourish your children's learning each morning. It takes very little effort to prepare a small "breakfast casserole" the night before. Set out cold cereal, or have hot cereal ready to go. Getting the morning meal prepped the night before nearly guarantees that your family will have a nutritious meal before leaving home. There are many easy recipes that are easily prepared the night before, and cooked while everyone washes and dresses. This is not a fantasy! It can be done. Give it a try.
Get up a few minutes earlier. It's amazing how much more smoothly and peacefully your morning routine can run if you have just fifteen extra minutes. I know that in the moment that the alarm is screaming in your sleeping ear that extra fifteen minutes of sleep seems like heaven, but when you realize that your children respond to your screaming voice the same way that you respond to the screaming alarm clock, perhaps you will reconsider. Sacrificing the time with the snooze button is worth a peaceful morning.
Choose the atmosphere. Like everything else in a Harbor Home, cheerful mornings begin with someone making a decision that mornings will be cheerful. Someone has to make up their mind that mornings are, as the beginning of each day, are important to each day and, therefore, our lives. Perhaps that someone is you. If you are reading this, consider that God is calling you to lead your family to a happier start for each day. Make up your mind that your home a Harbor Home is worth the effort it takes.
Please don't misunderstand my message this week. I know that making mornings a cheerful time when everyone in the home is busy and distracted does not happen easily. The concepts are simple, but implementing them is not easy. It will take someone initiating it, but after a while it will become second nature to everyone. Transitions are very often the most challenging part of our lives. With care and planning they can become manageable. Even when there is a transition that you find especially difficult, you can make it a positive experience in your Harbor Home.