Parenting Blog

The official blog for Ann Douglas, parenting book author and weekend parenting columnist for CBC Radio. Ann is the creator of The Mother of All Books series and the author of Parenting Through the Storm. Her most recent book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids, was published by HarperCollins Canada in February 2019.

Taming the Morning Monster: How to Make Mornings Less Stressful for Yourself and Your Kids


Mornings can be stressful for parents and kids alike – and they can be especially stressful at this time of year, when we’re trying to ease back into school-year morning routines. So what can you do to make mornings a little less stressful for yourself and your kids? Here are a few tips.

Do what you can the night before. Clear the deck of any and all tasks that can be tackled ahead of time, things like making lunches, filling out permission forms for your child’s school, and tracking down gym clothes and library books and other items that need to find their way back to school. 

Create a designated area for items that need to make it out the door in the morning. Don’t want your child to forget his sweater and his backpack? No problem. Park them by the front door. Worried he’ll still manage to forget the lunch that is (by necessity) still camping out in the fridge? No worries. Stick a note on his backpack to remind him to swing by the refrigerator before he makes the mad dash for the school bus.

Think simple and healthy when you’re planning breakfast menus. Save the super-involved breakfasts for weekends, when you have a bit more time for cooking and cleanup. Stick to basics on weekday mornings. Team up protein with complex carbohydrates so that your kids will have the fuel they need to function at their best while they’re at school. Think smoothies, whole-grain toast, hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, and other quick-and-easy breakfasts. (Tip: Make French toast whole-grain bread ahead of time. Zap it in the microwave for a couple of seconds and top it with fresh fruit for a yummy and nutritious breakfast.)  

Establish a predictable morning routine. That way, your kids will know what they’re expected to do — which will help to reduce the number of reminders required from you. If you have a child who struggles to stay organized, create a checklist based on that morning routine and hang it on the bathroom mirror or the refrigerator door — somewhere he’ll be sure to see it. Better yet, get him to create his own checklist (so that he can take responsibility for organizing his morning routine and come up with the reminder system that will work best for him).  

Factor some breathing room into your schedule. Curveballs can and do happen, so plan to get up at least 15 minutes earlier than your schedule demands. If you make a conscious effort to build a bit of a time cushion into your morning routine, you won’t have to rush yourself and your kids in order to make up for lost time. Tip: If you’d like to start your day by enjoying a bit of quiet time on your own before everyone else is up, you might consider getting up even earlier than that. Taking care of your own needs first will help to put you in a calm and positive state of mind — a great way to start your day. You’ll have the luxury of feeling in control (as opposed to feeling like your day is controlling you).