I recently wrote a post entitled, Grace-filled mornings, but it was actually more about hurried school mornings and the tendency to nag our way through all the sacred rituals at the start of each new day. I heard back from some of you that I'm not alone in my angst; that you're with me in wanting more of Grace and less Law.
The trouble is, I don't have a formula that's will work for every woman. There's no one way to guide us through the practical aspects of our bed-making, teeth-brushing, lunch-box-grabbing, shoe-tying mornings. So having a plan of action is key for every mom herding children out the door. Let's make a plan and teach our children how to be self-disciplined so that we're not tempted to discipline them every rushed morning. Discipline strangles grace when we're in a rush. Therefore let's slow down, make a plan, and communicate it clearly with our kiddos.
Slowing down our morning ritual to make space for Grace. Because Grace needs room to breath and spread out and into hearts, and our hustle bustle pace makes her dizzy.
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Here are 10 things we can do with our children to make our mornings easier.
I'm learning to do much of this the night before another hurried, off-to-school morning. Getting some of the logistics out of the way so I can smile instead of scold, and help instead of harp. I realize I'm most impatient with my children when I'm overwhelmed with my own last minute rush. It's then that I grab and pull and push with words and hands and dishes, rather than encourage and help as we move out the door, hand in hand with Grace.
Here are the kids responsibilities:
Lay out clothes on the end of their bed. Since two of my three wear school uniforms, this is paramount. A scramble through a dirty pile of navy blue polos is no way to start the day with a song. Our kids can absolutely be in charge of this task. And if we find that something hasn't been cleaned, there's still time to do a stress-free load of wash before bed.
School bags packed and set beside shoes. At night I remind my children to get their things packed up and laid beside their shoes at the door. This is crucial if we want to be ready in the morning. Once again, this is the time for training. Our kiddos need to learn to be responsible for their things, but don't you agree it's much more comfortable to check on their school preparations at night, rather than point out all their flaws in the morning? One smacks of help and the other criticism.
Breakfast table cleaned off and place-mats set. My oldest has kitchen duty in the evenings and this includes cleaning the table and sweeping up all the conveniently dropped pieces of broccoli on the floor. He also lays fresh place-mats and napkins, so I'm not all jumbled bringing breakfast to a discombobulated table. How that stresses my discombobulated heart! And when I'm stressed... there's not much room for Grace.
In all the above points, there's much training to be done. I'm definitely not suggesting we forego training and replace it with permissive laziness, we're just purposing a better time to do it. A proactive parenting strategy. We can do this... and they can too! But expecting them to get it all done in the limited time we have each morning is simply an invitation for more angst!
Now here are Mom's responsibilities:
Breakfast. Muffins pre-made. It's Sunday night as I am typing this out, and I have a dozen banana muffins prepped for the week, along with a batch of pancakes. I tripled my recipe this weekend and set aside two mornings worth in the fridge for the weekdays ahead. Scrambled eggs, cereal, and french toast are other easy staples. Having a plan is key. Here's our favorite gluten-free chocolate zucchini muffin recipe.
Lunches prepped. Some of this can certainly be done the night ahead. And many women include their children in this step too, but I choose not to. I usually do this late at night and then shuffle to my bedroom, knowing my husband needs a little bit of my night too. And then there's sleep. Sweet blessed sleep.
Sleep. A good night's sleep is an open invitation for Grace to visit in the morning. When I've pushed the midnight oil a bit too indulgently, everyone pays the next day. I know this is hard for you young moms, with littles at your heels each day; how those night hours stretch long with hobbies and books and social media... and we clamor for the hours because they remind us that we're more than moms, we're women with interests and personality and friends too. But to over-indulge means to leave yourself filled up in one way, but empty in another crucial area. We need sleep!
Set an alarm. Getting up before the sun isn't necessary for me, but getting up before my children is! A shower and a scripture and wet hair wound-up in a bun is more than enough to hand my day over to Grace.
First Fruits. Coming to the Lord as the day begins is a tangible reminder for me to lift my eyes up to the mountains from where my help comes from. And that helper's name is Grace. So I look up expectantly.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Whisper. When the clock is ticking and I start to feel my blood boil, I want to snatch the shoe strings out of slow hands. But when I'm tempted to holler about the ways they've all fallen short that morning, I choose to do the opposite. The opposite. I whisper. Not always, mind you, I'm learning too, but when I remember they all stop and look at me like I've got something important on the tip of my tongue. And they actually hear me. My loud voice is much less effective.
Pray for each heart of stone. We tend to focus on the hard hearts in our children, and their desire to do their own thing rather than what's been asked of them. I feel their wayward hearts of stone in the early morning hours. But when I whisper and take their hands to lead them gently, I am reminded about my own need for a soft flesh heart. And while we can purpose and reprogram some... only God can give us a totally new heart, and put His Spirit deep within us. And Grace, Grace is so much a part of His Spirit. We need it. And we need Him.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
This was a long note, and always unfinished as we are all works in progress. How I wish we could jump through the internet and sit together to talk through these things.