What I realized that day was that I was the one doing a complete disservice to my child. I was the one making his mornings stressful and yelling at him to “speed up, keep moving, we’re going to be late.” Why should I force him to start off on the wrong foot because of my lack of preparation? I felt horrible. In fact, I felt like the worst mom in the world. That day I vowed to get a morning routine together so that Lucas never had to be barked at by his mean mom ever again.
I started by looking at the ways we wasted time. How could I save time? How could I be more efficient yet get all the necessaries accomplished – clothes on, teeth brushed, breakfast, school bag (with lunch inside most of the time)? What I discovered is that by establishing a few simple habits our mornings could not only be less stressful but actually enjoyable.
Here are some of the habits I use to make our school day mornings a breeze:
1. Don’t go Downstairs Until Everyone’s Dressed, Teeth are Brushed, & Beds are Made – My husband is notorious for letting the kids lounge in pj’s until the last minute. I find it much harder to motivate them to get dressed after they have already gone downstairs. A firm rule I hold to on school days is that everyone must get dressed, brush their teeth and comb their hair, and make their beds before going downstairs. Live in a ranch style home? Same rule applies just limit their access to only their bedrooms and bathrooms until they are finished with all their to-do’s. I also stick to this rule for the babies as well. Even my newborn would get dressed before we headed to breakfast. This rule got us all off on the right foot and stopped the need for me to keeping asking the kids to “go get dressed.”
*** Side note: I would also strongly suggest you encourage everyone to use the bathroom before going downstairs, too! I don’t how kids can hold it for so long but they seem to wait until the very last second to the use the bathroom.
2. Pack Lunches the Night Before – As soon as my son gets home from school, I have him do three things: put his backpack away, take out any papers and place them on the kitchen table, and make his lunch. No, I do not make his lunch for him (although sometimes, as a kind gesture, I get it out of the way for him and slip a little love note in his lunch bag). He is a plain jane and has the same lunch nearly every day – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Although his sandwiches are a little messier than the ones mom makes, he has learned to be independent and to plan ahead by packing it the day before.
3. Set the Kitchen Timer – No matter what we did in the beginning, we always seemed to be in a big rush the last five minutes before we had to leave. This made us cranky and stressed. I started to set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes before we had to absolutely, positively be out the door. When the timer goes off, we set down everything we are doing (eating breakfast, sweeping floors, playing) and start getting our shoes, coats, or, in winter, our snowsuits and boots on. I have come to the realization that kids move slower than adults and no amount of prodding or pushing is going to change the speed in which they get ready. They simply don’t have the same sense of urgency that we as adults do. Rather than make them conform to our “adultisms”, let’s give them a break by providing ample time to tie their shoes and zip their coats. Although parents are often tempted to help them along so they can get out the door faster, mastering these skills on their own offers them an opportunity to strengthen some pretty important life skills.
4. Just Say “No” to those Last Minute Tasks – You don’t have time to be chasing down homework and signing permission slips five minutes before you need to leave. There is no room in the morning for last minute tasks and they will only cause stress if you try to cram them into your routine. The best solution is to always do these the night before. If you stay at home, do them right after school. If you are a working parent, right before or after dinner works well too. The key is to never expect yourself to miraculous find time in your busy morning to get them done. Set yourself (and your child) up for success by doing them the day before.
My son is going into second grade this year and I can honestly say that stressful mornings are very few and far between. Not only do these habits keep this momma sane but they also help my son start his day on the right foot. He isn’t rushed or hurried or dragged along and then expected to have “a great day” as we mom’s say before we wave them goodbye.
By applying my proven habits you too can enjoy the ease of a simpler school day morning!