• Michele Duhigg

How to Cultivate a Shameless Mom and Toddler Morning Routine

My top 3 tips for morning survival with your tiny monsters

The Truth About You as a Mother

Before you completely write this article off as another one of those mom-shaming, parent your child this way or they’ll grow up to be a serial killer – hear me out.

I’ve been there. That dark place in your mind shouting “you’re doing this all wrong”. I want to clarify that there is no rule book to parenting. There’s no promise that your child will grow up to rule the world – maybe they might. All I know is this: You’re doing the best you can.

I won’t dare tell you what you’re doing is wrong. If putting in earplugs and throwing your kids an ipad helps you keep your sanity – then go right ahead.

The only reason I’m truthfully putting my thoughts out there is to share my experience. Maybe my suggestions will work for you, maybe they won’t. Maybe you don’t need them. Either way all I hope to do is help you if you want it.

There’s tons of research showing the value of self-care and suggestions on how to incorporate self-care into our daily lives. Whether you're a working mom, stay at home mom, or the newly found full-time teacher moms due to COVID-19 – there’s a routine for you.

Personally, I’m a self-grown entrepreneur who built her business while raising kids and running the house. There are days when I feel I can’t take it anymore and then there’s days where I feel so empowered I could change the world in one day.

This is where coaching helped me. I needed someone to help me breakthrough to the next level. And my coach taught me what I’m about to share with you.

Imagine a morning routine that:

● Your kiddos want to follow

● Decreases your anxiety

● Helps you feel more connected

● Helps your kids feel more confident

This doesn’t have to be a pipe-dream momma. Check out these tips that helped me.

How to Create Your Ideal Morning

Tip #1: Surrender

You and your family deserve to be at peace. You don’t need to juggle every ball in your court. Plus, it’s okay if you drop one or two!

I’ve had to learn to let go of my frustrations when something doesn’t go as planned. Such as the dishes not getting washed, my kids didn’t make it to the park, or once upon a time before the pandemic I was always running from one activity to the next.

So. What. It doesn’t make me a bad mom, it means I’m doing the best I can. But I didn’t always think that way.

I began doing a morning surrender. Whether my kids bust down my door or I go out to find them circling the kitchen we all pause and surrender our emotions by breathing together.

Sometimes this “surrender” technique doesn’t go as planned so my backup is to try and take 20 minutes each day when my whole family’s together and have “quiet time”. During this time we might do the following activities:

● Reading

● Drawing

● Listening to music

● Practicing breath work together (this usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes)

Breathwork helps my kids and me in our morning routine to level out our anxious minds. Plus, breathwork[1] has been proven to be the most effective way to lower your heart rate.

My kids and I usually lay on the couch together or in bed together saying:

I am enough

I am worthy

I am in control of my emotions

We take deep breaths and afterwards I’ll ask what emotion they’re feeling. Then I’ll ask why and we’ll continue with breath work.

Practicing surrender, breathwork, or quiet time helps my kids become aware of their emotions. You want to implement this at a young age because it’s when their brain is developing their subconscious thought processes. If you teach them to validate their own emotions and become aware of why they have them, it’ll become an easier practice for when they’re adults.

Tip #2: Coach Your Emotions to Your Kids

Okay, so everyone out there is spouting off about how important journaling[2] is – and I don’t disagree. But already you’re probably thinking there’s no time for this. And honestly “making time” for something that doesn’t come natural to you can be hard.

Personally, I like to stick with some heavy journaling which I can get done during our “quiet times”. I’m usually on the go right away in the morning so our “quiet times” mostly happen in the evening.

I work hard to validate myself through journaling because I know it’s easier for me to take care of my family when I’m consistently caring for myself – even if it doesn’t happen everyday I try to at least prioritize some “me time” once a week.

It’s been a long road, but I can finally believe that there’s nothing wrong with writing down your negative thoughts.

Let me say that again: There’s nothing wrong with you or your negative thoughts. They. Are. Valid.

I used to be afraid to put some of the deep dark stuff down on paper because that somehow meant it would come to life. Instead, I decided to embrace those thoughts and then follow them up with neutral thoughts, meaning thoughts that are true, and rooted in reality.

For example:

Current thought: Today, I’m scared for my life that all I’ll do is sit in this closet and cry my bloody eyes out while those little mega-monsters burn the house down because I feel like I just can’t take it anymore. I’m scared that I’m a terrible mother, in fact, thanks to COVID-19 I now have to learn to be a teacher AND still make a meal that they’ll eat?!

Neutral thought: I am a mother. These kids are alive and fed. That’s all my job needs to be today, is to keep them alive and fed. I am loving my kids. My kids love me. They have a safe home and are breathing. I am not perfect, and neither are they. I can’t control my kids’ actions, all I can do is do my best.

Seriously, ladies, this is a real journal entry I had just last week. I felt terrible! But honestly, I found the more I wrote out my neutral thoughts the more I started to think those thoughts instead of my shameful self-hating thoughts. That’s some powerful stuff.

In return, I found myself more at peace – and not wanting to turn into a momzilla!

Focus On Emotional Awareness

Let’s take a minute to recognize how challenging it is to convince your 5-year-old boy the best way to “acknowledge” his feelings is through 2020’s best journal prompts

How can our kids achieve the same benefits that journaling offers without actually journaling?

Awareness. My family and I will do something we call a “vibe check”. I could be walking through the kitchen passing by my husband and say “vibe check” – he’ll respond irritated and I’ll ask why. If he doesn’t want to talk about it then I’ll explain why I’m feeling the way I do.

It wasn’t my intention for my kids to pick up on this, but one day my kids must have been able to sense my stress waves because one of them comes at me with a “vibe check”.

I’ve noticed ever since we started doing this consistently I’ve had more opportunities to chat with my kids on what actions trigger their emotions and how to handle that emotion in a healthy way.

Surprisingly, now instead of having a melt down about not buying a new Pusheen doll my kids will say “vibe check sad”. We’ll have occasional meltdowns still, but it’s progress not perfection right?

Tip #3 Don’t Just Read a Romance Novel

Yes, I love my trash TV and a good gossip magazine. But studies[3] have shown reading is the best way to cultivate a new you. But you can’t read just anything – the key is filling your mind with quality brain food.

Honestly, I thought this was cheesy when I read it. I didn’t want to be labeled as a “self-help” momma always looking for the next best thing. I’m not sure why I had that stigma. It’s probably the media.

Anyways, dedicating some time for brain love will do wonders for you and your kids in the long run.

The more you push positivity into your mind the less room there’ll be for negativity. It’s like training for a marathon. Which I’ve done – albeit 15 years ago! But, since this pandemic started everyone seems to be a runner now. However, here’s the thing about running – you don’t start off in a sprint for 26 miles. You start jogging one block, then two, and then add on.

Trust me, reading is relaxing. You and your kids can find a cozy spot somewhere during your “quiet time” and sit as long as you can to read. If your kiddo isn’t at a reading level yet it's okay! Read together as a unit.

I mentioned it before, but the toddler ages (years 3-5) are the most impressionable. They’re operating on a different brain wave than we are. This is why they’re so imaginative and pick up on everything we do.

Reading a little bit everyday for yourself will hopefully pave a path away from anxiety, depression, and other behavioral issues in their future.

If you need a starting line, check out my personal reading list. [4] for yourself and these meditation books for kids[5].

How to Include Your Kids in Self-Care

So, how do you convince your kids to join you?

The way I’ve incorporated the above morning routine ideas for toddlers is by looking at it through their eyes. I literally have to imagine myself as them. And a lot of screaming matches.

But every parent is different and every family routine looks different. These are just a few tips and tricks I’ve learned after trial and error. And honestly, if you don’t use any of them I’m not going to be offended.

COVID-19 has brought about some major challenges for us. My schedule has changed drastically and school isn’t available right now. But I truly believe that when things are uncomfortable is when you’re growing the most.

If you need help, someone to talk to or coach you through this reach out and message me. I know this is hard and sometimes we want to give up. But we only have to focus on today. We have each other to get through this.

[1] Christine Singh, Using breathwork to rediscover the magic within. May 5, 2020. Duhigg Coaching. [2] Kelsey Graffis, Implementing a self-care routine. April 21, 2020. Duhigg Coaching.

[3] Celestine Chua, 42 Practical Ways to Improve Yourself. March 5, 2020. Lifehack.

[4] Megan Lee, 18-Books to Add to Your 2020 Reading List-Troll Your Way to Boss Babe. May 14, 2020. Megan Lee Agency.

[5] Dianne Maroney, The Imagine Project, Inc. May14, 2020. Yampa Valley Publishing.

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