10 Things we can do to make our mornings easier


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.

Psalm 121:1-2


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.

Ezekiel 36:26


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.

Grace-filled mornings

Three weeks into the new school year and already aware of the morning angst chasing us out the door on time.  It's a challenge with all these little people, all going their own pace, with their own personalities in tow.  Here's a picture of how my three wake up over here:


The day's not yet finished and one child's already asking me how I'll wake him in the morrow.  "With tickles on my back?  Music?  The smell of bacon?"  I smile and say, "We'll see."  Once he's asleep I write him a note and sneak it next to him on his pillow.  It reads,


Good Morning


Another gets up and ready early, dressing himself with happy confidence.  He comes into our room while we're still in bed.   And as we roll over he smiles, knowing we're going to say,


Look how handsome you are!


Their brother, however, is still splayed across his bed, with only his head under the heavy blanket.  Breakfast is on the table now and we're running out of morning moments before we leave for school.  So I rub his belly vigorously and sing,


Time to wakey-shakey!


He grunts as I slip on his school clothes, moving quickly before he's coherent enough to argue with the day ahead.


Three boys, three different personalities, three differing needs from son-rise to son-set.  I'm learning to help them into each new day in the unique way each boy needs.  One with a thoughtful greeting, another with praise for his independent nature, and the third with a little more help than the others require.


It's easy to nag the one who wakes up slow.  When frustration is rising and minutes are ticking by.  But nagging is a terrible way to start each day.  For the one being nagged, the one nagging, and the others who have to endure the sound.


I confess that I tried for a couple of years to teach them to all be the same in the morning hours.  To get up and get dressed, make their beds and come to the table ready for life.  Making sure they knew what was expected of them and having natural consequences waiting for them when they didn't get it right.  But I found that day after day at least one of them failed miserably.  And each morning started with the LAW; me laying it down, and him falling short.


I can't tell you exactly how it changed, except to say Grace took over.  This Mama with a heart to love, the one who'd become a judge, asked Gentleness to take our mornings back.  Because the law and the consequences of failing perfection had worn us all out.  It had worn me out.


I've no doubt that parenting experts would tell me I still need age appropriate expectations of this child.  And they're right.  I must train each one to master their morning hours; getting dressed and making their own beds, and brushing their teeth without multiple reminders each day.  But I'm choosing to help them with the silent guidance of my hand, and an occasional smoothing of their blankets as they put their PJs in the hamper and pull up their socks.


They have dishes to clear, and backpacks to grab and kisses to snag in the span of minutes.  And always a blessing from mom as we pile into the car.  But I tell you how wrong the kisses and prayers felt on the days that LAW ruled our mornings.  I felt bi-polor and not to be trusted.  Criticizing my way through the rush, then slowing down and praying God's Name over them.


It dawned on me how turned off to God I'd be if I were that child, slow moving and distracted; if all I ever heard was my mother griping about my imperfections, then in a sacred instant hearing her pray for me and tell me how much God loves me.  No thank you.


So I'm giving way to Grace, because she's a much better picture of the God who loves my children - though my natural tendency is still to focus on the law.  But Grace is changing me and flipping our mornings right-side-up.  And as my heart flip-flops to look more like His Gospel Love, my children soften to the kisses and the blessings.  And that is my utmost desire,  above children who come quickly to the breakfast table, remembering their underwear under their shorts, and their lunchbox in their backpack.


That Grace would beget faith.




The softest skin and the messiest hair,
I stroke them both, so aware
He's growing under grace.
But in truth it wasn't always this way
I used to judge each morning away,
at a hurried stressful pace.
The law he couldn't keep,  it's true,
though I posted them on my forehead too
and preached them to his face.
Dolling out the constant shame
of all his faults, he was to blame,
I put him in his place.


Then God's own Spirit let me see,
How much my son was so like me,
In desperate need of grace.
-Wendy Speake
(For the son who moves slow in the mornings)


Hungry for more application? Read on here.