angry parent, family, calm

5 Things You Can Do When You’ve Shouted Before It’s Even Breakfast

We all have days where from the moment you get up it’s all seems to go downhill. Then you find the cat’s been sick, there’s no clean uniform and your child is moving at the pace of a geriatric snail whilst arguing over anything and everything. Before you’ve even managed a mouthful of cornflakes you’ve become a screaming banshee.

If it’s like this before breakfast you feel like the the rest of the day isn’t looking so good.

Moments like this are common in family. It’s what you do next which counts.

Here’s 5 things to ask yourself when it’s all started off on the wrong trajectory:

1. How can I set things right?

If it’s all gone to hell in a handbasket before you’ve even got going, you are allowed to press pause. You may have to embrace being late, missing that activity/meeting or dropping something off the to do list later on in the day, but sometimes it’s the wisest step to alleviate the pressure and the ripple effect on the whole day.

Sometimes taking a costly moment to draw a line and reset the day can pay dividends later on. Please note I find it much easier to write this than do it, but I know from experience those moments when it’s all got too much, if I let go of the pressure to arrive on time at school or accomplish everything I had intended it usually helps significantly.

If you’re way beyond that, and it’s long after the school run that you’re calm enough to even begin to think about what on earth just happened, it’s not too late. Having a conversation later in the day where you can acknowledge the day didn’t start well, apologise and work out together what you can do differently can be both an opportunity to reconnect and a valuable life lesson.

Our children don’t need us to be perfect, but they do need us to model what to do when it all goes wrong. When we show this by our actions these lessons lay great foundations.

2. What was really going on?

This is one for after the event, but it’s so valuable to step back and work out what was going on for you and your child. Was it really about the shoes/clothes/whatever set it off or is something else going on?

For example, lots of children battle over getting dressed because they think it means they then don’t have to go out. It can be their way of communicating they’re not feeling great about the day ahead or something’s on their mind. Pausing to listen and show you hear the message can shift the flow and reduce their stress.

Maybe what’s really going in is something for you. If you’re finding your reactions to minor things are disproportionate maybe it’s telling you that there’s something bigger and more significant which is bothering or concerning you? Work these out and it can be valuable information.

What patterns there are, especially if mornings are frequently stressful. Are you trying to accomplish too much? Are there particular days which are harder then others? When you know what’s influencing or setting off the problems you’re better placed to find solutions.

3. What are you telling yourself?

During our years of fostering getting out of the house was hard (arguably it’s not much easier with young children). One of our children was particularly hard to wake up – possibly waking the dead may have been easier! In the times when I was telling myself over and over how he’d be late and how he wasn’t listening I created stress which impacted how I handled the morning – not in a helpful way. If I told myself others would judge me if my child was late it only served to increase the pressure.

I’ve learned that I need to be mindful of what I tell myself and sometimes you have to choose between positive connection and punctuality. It doesn’t mean my children can abdicate responsibility and amble through the morning. It does mean that sometimes I’ll remind myself that we’re on time 99% of the time and it’s better to arrive late and in a positive state than all of us in a state of overwhelm. Ironically when we keep it positive we’re more likely to be punctual.

4. What other ways are there to do this?

Another of our teenage foster children used to get up great, but struggled with organisation….. it felt like he needed constant reminding of almost everything he needed to do in the morning other than breathing. This evolved into feeling like we constantly nagged and the only difference it made was a morning routine which felt pretty negative. Eventually we decided enough was enough. Whether he was organised or not we weren’t happy with how we were handling it.

So we introduced a no nag rule for us. We worked out with him (again) what he needed to do and the times by which he needed to do it and wrote it out, along with times and an agreement. We weren’t allowed to nag before those times – he loved it and it made it into a joke which gave him some power to tell us off if we overstepped the mark. He had his prompts, but we were no longer nagging unnecessarily

5. How can you make it fun?

Sometimes making it fun is hard work, but it pays dividends. If we’d just given our teenager a plan of organisation he’d have probably ignored it. The key was the no nag rule and permission to tell us off – this shifted the dynamic and keyed into his love of a challenge as well as focusing him on what he needed to do. He was delighted to “beat” us so we couldn’t nag. For us it was a win/win.

With my younger children mornings have involved a lot of role play and games. For a while we made up a going up the stairs song and went up as a train when it was time to clean our teeth. Sometimes when they’re pretending to be mischevious puppies using or some other character they’ll do things much more readily. I can’t make them enthusiastic to go to school, but I can help the flow of getting out of the house.

Making change is hard work, but so is battling your way through the morning and having a rough start to the day. I can’t promise you effortless mornings, but I would argue hard work which leaves you more positive and connected as a family is well worth the effort.

Julie is an ICF accredited coach who offers vital thinking space to busy parents. She’s passionate about children growing up experiencing acceptance, belonging and connection. Her background includes working with young people in education, as a foster carer and being a mum. She is very experienced in the additional challenges some young people experience including SEN, neurodivergence and trauma

You can book an initial consultation with her at:

Photo 1 by Gabriel Tovar on Unsplash