When your child first wakes up in the morning, how do you all start your day? Does it start with sweet hugs and smiles or does it start with someone dragging someone else out of bed? Are you bright eyed and bushy tailed in the mornings? Are your kids?

The way you start the day can be the stimulus for your morning behavior chain, or the trigger for how the morning routine is going to go.

If your kids find you in bed still, unable to fully open your eyes, they may already start fighting for your attention.

If your kids find you engrossed in your phone or laptop, they may immediately resort to less than awesome behaviors to get your attention away from your work or screen.

How do you want to start your day?

Try this- whenever you see your child, stop whatever you are doing. Put down the coffee cup, open your eyes, close your laptop. Stop everything as if your child is the center of the world. Because at that moment they are the center of your world.

Get down on their level and greet them with a “good morning” and a hug. Every day. Fill their bucket first- from the first moment you see each other in the morning.

morning checklist for moms

I’m often talking about fill their bucket- giving lots of noncontingent reinforcement- by giving a lot of undivided attention first before asking them to do things on their own. So why wouldn’t we start the day that way? It only takes a minute or two.

I get up before my kids to give myself time to wake up, have a cup of coffee, and work in the mornings before I start my mom job. (Work at home mom life) I have been known to be engrossed in my work when my kids wander down the hallway- I wrote the entire book Enjoy Parenting between the hours of 6-7am. But I shifted my morning routine to be okay with stopping wherever I was- I didn’t need to finish writing that chapter, or even that paragraph- before stopping. I would hit save and close my laptop and turn my whole body to face my child. I would get down on their level and open my arms wide for a big hug. And every time, I had a little person run to me and reply without being asked, “Good morning, Mama.”

It warmed my heart and filled their buckets. Now it’s a routine. It’s a daily ritual that my kids can count on. They can trust that no matter what I’m doing, I’m going to stop and hug them and say good morning. I put down the coffee cup, the breakfast I’m cooking, the curling iron I’ve only partially fixed my hair with, my phone I’m scrolling mindlessly on, or close my laptop mid email (the draft will still be there later to finish).

The rest of the day may be a typical daily schedule or it may be something different or unknown. But my kids can count on that morning greeting. Now, they often run to me saying “Good morning, Mama” before I even realize they’re in the same room as me. They initiate the greeting ritual on their own.

The importance of routines and rituals for our kids is undeniable. Let’s use these to start our day off with noncontingent reinforcement, with attention, with real connection.

How do your mornings with your kids usually start? Do you like it that way? Are you ready for a new ritual to help connect with your kids first thing in the morning?