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What Rats Have to do with your Morning Ritual

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Father helping child to get dressed

I’m not a parent, but most of our readers are, so I read a lot about how daily rituals fit in with parenting. And I came across something really surprising the other day.

It was in an article in Forbes about a book called Kids Pick Up On Everything: How Parental Stress Is Toxic To Kids by David Code. It describes a study done with rat mothers and their pups (did you know that’s what baby rats are called? I didn’t.). The study had two groups of rats: mothers with low stress levels, who licked and groomed their pups a lot, and mothers who didn’t lick/groom their pups very much.

The pups who weren’t licked/groomed a lot ended up anxious, fearful, and afraid to explore new places. The pups who were licked/groomed frequently ended up calmer and more curious. They didn’t experience swings in stress hormones, and they weren’t as easily startled.

Here’s the surprising thing: the pups with “minimal-licking” mothers (yes, I know this terminology is weird) who were transferred to “frequent-licking” mothers ended up with the low-stress behavioral makeup of their “foster” mothers. Certain regions in the pups’ brains actually activated, and others deactivated.

The lack of stress changed the pups’ brains for the better.

Here’s a quote from Code that really brings the point home:

“By spending a lot of time grooming her pups, the mother rat is saying to them, ‘times are so good and predator- and stress-free that I have lots of time to lick you guys.’ […] “My goal with my own kids is not to tell them I love them every six minutes of the day and helicopter-parent them so they know I’m present. It’s to create calm around them so that they feel no sense of threat.

From readers, I’ve heard what a lack of calm looks like in a family with kids: mornings are harder, because the parents are stressed out. When you’re stressed out, of course, it would be great if your kids were with the program, eager to do things the first time you told them. But instead, when you’re stressed out, your kids pick up on that, and that makes things harder. They’re a little more sensitive, a little more prone to tantrums and being stubborn. Which of course makes your mood worse, and things can often spiral down from there.

But the worst thing, my friends and family with kids tell me, is the way your kids look at you when you’re in a bad mood. It feels so bad, seeing them watch you, trying to figure out your mood. “Is he mad at us?” “Did I do something wrong?

Imagine if, instead, you could control whether you have a good morning or not. How would it feel to get out of bed knowing you have the power to make it a happy, calm, stress-free morning, for both yourself AND your family?

That’s what having a morning ritual gives you, every single day.

Sure, you’ll still have bad mornings occasionally (I’d be lying if I claimed otherwise). Sometimes they’re unavoidable — you get bad news, or you were up all night with a sick kid or working on a deadline.

But for the most part, a morning ritual eliminates stressful mornings.

A morning ritual guarantees that you get at least ONE HOUR of time to yourself every single morning. And, if you follow our six-step morning ritual, you’re more calm, focused, and relaxed than when you woke up.

When you do your morning ritual, you take care of yourself first, so you can take care of your kids next.

And you know you’re providing your kids the stress-free mornings they need to thrive in the day ahead.

Get stress-free mornings for you and your kids.

Morning Ritual Starter Kit

Our morning ritual has helped hundreds of parents get calmer mornings with their kids. Will you join them?

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