Time is a tricky thing. As kids, we have more than we know what to do with. But as adults—especially once we have kids of our own, it never feels like we have enough. So when it comes to utilizing the time we have with our kids, learning to handle it well is essential.

It can be hard work to make the time we have count, especially when you are reminding your kid to put on their shoes and pack their backpack for the 18th time. But as our kids grow up, we must take advantage of the time we already have with them within the rhythm of our day to talk about what matters most.

We’ll start with:

Morning Time.

Your Role: Coach
Communication: Encouraging Words
Goal: Instill purpose

Mornings can be rough. With babies, it generally starts earlier than any parent wants. With kids, getting the school projects, show and tell, lunches, and child itself out the door is a task of epic proportions. With teenagers, the actual waking them up part is enough to rob you of joy for the rest of the day.

But maybe part of what makes mornings hard is we try to get through them more than we try to use them. If we had a goal—like instilling purpose, and a mode of accomplishing it, like encouraging words, we could change the look and feel of our day.

My husband literally treats morning like a coach with his team—giving our two boys a pep talk before he heads out the door. It’s like a motivational speech—which is the point: to encourage and inspire the boys for the day ahead. He tells them how he knows they are going to be kind to each other, treat each other in a loving way and give their mama no drama. Some days it feels like a “name it and claim it”—like if he puts the idea in their head, there’s a better chance of it actually happening.

Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t.

But the point is to start the day that way because it gives kids, even in an indirect way, a really crucial understanding. Every day is fresh. Every day is new. Every day is the chance to do this all again, and to maybe even do better than we did last time. Mornings are where forgiveness and lack of grudges can show up best.

So what are some practical morning time tips?

  • Communicate ideals for the day, in conduct and behavior with hope—not demands. Let your kids know you want them to win for the day.
  • Learn your kid’s schedules and what they have coming up. Tests? Try outs? The dreaded mile-run in PE? Show them you care, by being in the know about what’s going on in their life.
  • Tell your kids how proud you are of them, how much you believe in them, and the potential you see in them. No matter how old they are, they will never outgrow the need for encouraging words.
  • Reserve at least five minutes for yourself, before your kids get up. It’s hard to instill purpose in others if you feel depleted.
  • Set the tone for your home. Don’t let your kids’ emotions steer the ship. How do you want the mornings to feel? Then do everything you can to make them feel that way.

Morning time can be chaos, but it also has the potential to be one of the most important times of connection with your kid.