We have blogged many times about the benefits of a healthy breakfast and a good routine. Children thrive on knowing what comes next, and when you are battling control struggles and opposition, creating a healthy, balanced routine can have huge positive impacts on a child’s behavior.
Children are usually acting the way they feel; behavior is their way of telling you something. So often, our first reaction as parents is to yell or discipline behavior we don’t like – which may often need to happen – but in a constructive, educational way. As parents, we take this behavior personally, and overreact to it, leaving our children feeling belittled, sad, or angry, and leaving us frustrated.
The first step to having balanced discipline strategies is to create a solid self-care routine as a parent. This may seem laughable, but it is very vital to take care of yourself as a parent if you expect to take care of your children. The demands on parents are continuing to increase, and without appropriate, realistic boundaries, you are always going to feel pulled in 100 directions and your feelings of stress will never get better.
The great news is, a good routine is not difficult to follow or implement, and may only mean getting up 30 minutes earlier. Also, when you get up, don’t pick up your phone. Leave the phone down. Don’t start reading the news, checking emails, or watching YouTube. Looking at your phone speeds up your brain and we want you to be able to take care of yourself, not bombard yourself with stimulation the minute your eyes open. First rule: screens off for the first 30 minutes of your morning!
This looks different for everyone. For some its journaling or working on some gratitude worksheets. For others, it may be prayer. Either way, take 5 minutes to start your day by reviewing what you have in your life, what you’re grateful for, and what you hope to accomplish in the day. Starting your mind with this thought process sets your brain up with positive chemicals first thing, versus a cortisol/stress blast by looking at all the emails you need to respond to and the work you feel you won’t get done.
Your body and your brain need movement. Getting your heart-rate and muscles up and active first thing in the a.m. is a great, and an optimal way to help your brain health. There are some great HIIT workouts on the Peloton app or Beach Body, as well as a number of other apps. Find 20-25 minutes of working your body and moving. You will feel amazing!
Find 2-5 minutes of Headspace, Insight Timer, or yoga to connect with the moment and your breath before you get your day started. This will increase the blood flow to your prefrontal cortex (the rational part of your brain). Doing this will help you manage your stress and reactions as a parent throughout your day.
We have talked over and over about great hydration habits, but by drinking a full 10-12 ounces of water (bonus points with lemon) you are hydrating and giving your body what it needs.
At this point, 30-35 minutes have passed. You should be ready to start your morning. If you are feeling motivated, plan out your day with a list, set goals as to what you are going to accomplish, put on some great music and light a candle while you make breakfast. If you woke up at 5:00, its only 5:30. Now you can start getting ready for work, or get a head start on your morning chores. After 5-10 days of this routine, you will want to keep it up, and your brain, and kids will thank the more balanced version of yourself.
Behaved Brain Wellness Center
Healthier Kids – Happier Parents