If you are like me, your Facebook feed is exploding with back to school photos. Cute smiles, brushed hair, and shining faces. Lunches are packed, new backpacks are brimming over with school supplies, and moms and dads everywhere are flopping down on the couch for a quiet, uninterrupted cup of coffee. (Maybe that’s just me!)
Let’s be honest; how long will we all keep it up? We have strong personalities in this house, with big emotions that need constant regulation. If we don’t have a steady morning routine in place, things go downhill quickly, and neatly brushed hair gives way to bedhead and mismatched socks.
In that vein, here are three quick ways to practice healthy morning habits and create regular routines for sensitive and emotional children. We might be a swimming blog, but our goal is physical, mental, and emotional wellness for all.
Healthy Morning Habits
1. Start with nightly prep and set expectations. Lay out clothes, plan breakfast, make sure your child knows the tasks they are expected to perform in the morning. Depending on age, charts are an excellent tool for this purpose.
2. Plan for 5-10 minutes of mindful movement after waking. Even brief exercise will awaken the brain and stimulate information processing, plus help with stress reduction and improved concentration abilities. Start here for some simple stretching exercises to do in the morning. (And for children with ADHD, read more about how and why swimming especially can help with focus in the classroom.)
3. Protein for breakfast. First, start with the fundamental fact that children need to eat breakfast, period. One study showed that students who ate breakfast in the morning scored twice as high on Teacher Assessment, compared with those who did not. However, what they eat matters too. Carbohydrates in the morning add glucose to jumpstart your brain, but solely eating carbs in the morning will result in a blood sugar crash well before lunch, leading to grumpy, unfocused children. (Adult too, for that matter!) Adding a healthy serving of protein to your child’s breakfast slows carbohydrate absorption and levels out blood sugar throughout the day. (Read more here for suggested healthy snack choices and serving size).
The bottom line? Routines matter. As parents and caregivers, we must teach and model healthy habits for our children, providing them with the physical building blocks needed for emotional, mental, and academic success.