Lets just be honest. Trying to get anywhere with kids can be challenging. Especially by a specified time. And in the morning to boot. Are you shuddering from memories of school mornings past yet?
Welcome to every school morning of many parents’ lives. It can be a special kind of hell and the day has barely begun. I feel ya, guys. It is far from fun (especially if your little one popped awake before you got to gulp your coffee down or you have teenagers who refuse to wake up (period!) and you are left trying to haul their sleeping butts off to school to learn how to be functioning members of society), but it is part of the wonderful and wild ride that is parenthood.
The hustle to get out the door in the morning is many parents’ most dreaded time of the day. It can be stressful. There honestly is no other way to put it. But, it doesn’t have to be. Really! There are ways to help school mornings go by with a bit more ease, organization, and structure. For that to happen, however, it absolutely means that you have to do some leg work ahead of time and be intentional with how you use your short chunk of time in the mornings before you head out the door. But I truly can say that a few extra minutes of planning and prepping are well worth keeping your sanity and hair intact.
1. Prepare the night (or weekend) before! Most of us are a bit slower and maybe not as focused in the morning, so preparing things you will need for the day ahead of time can make a world of difference in getting out of the door on time! On Sundays, I often do meal prep and make sure to prepare a few items for easy breakfasts on busy school mornings or to quickly throw in lunch boxes. I also commit to packing all of our lunches for work and school the night before. That way, meals for the day can be as easy as grabbing and going!
I also help my daughter prepare herself for the next day. She picks out her clothes the night before, ready and waiting for her to throw them on when she gets up. Kiddos often have a hard time focusing in the mornings too, so help them learn to prepare ahead of time. Have them lay out their clothes, put their homework in their backpacks, and put everything in an easy spot so they aren’t hunting for things in the morning when time is tight!
2. Minimize transitions. Transitions can be a real time sucker…especially with kids. When my daughter wakes up, our rule is that she has to get dressed before coming downstairs. That way, she isn’t coming downstairs for breakfast, going back upstairs to get dressed, then coming back downstairs to get her shoes on, then back upstairs to brush her teeth, and so on! Kids will inevitably get distracted by a toy, book, or some other task on their journey back and forth, so try to minimize how many transitions kiddos have in the morning to keep from valuable time getting sucked up
3. Avoid distractions. I’m going to say something many of you are probably not going to like: Electronics in the morning might need to go. For both you and your children! Think about how much time in the morning is sucked up by scrolling through Facebook. My husband and I really noticed how much valuable time we were wasting on our phones and banished them from our grasps most mornings. Same goes for kiddos! I know many people have the routine of letting children “wake up” with a little educational show. However, that little show can take the focus off their tasks at hand and honestly isn’t a great way for their little brain to start the day. Have them get through their morning “must-dos” before turning on the TV or iPad. Let them know that once they are ready to go, whatever time is leftover is theirs to relax with in front of the TV or with a game. This incentive might also help to (eventually) cut back on the fight your kiddos give you to get going in the morning.
4. Keep it simple. No need to channel June Cleaver at 6am on a Wednesday morning, just keep it simple so you can get out the door on time with as little stress as possible on your shoulders. Have breakfast be something that can be quickly reheated, some hard boiled eggs with fruit that you can grab, or some simple homemade granola with a splash of milk. Don’t try to do the fancy braid you saw on Pinterest in your daughter’s hair, and don’t feel like you need to cut your son’s sandwich into a dinosaur. You are a good mom or dad without all that crazy complicated stuff. And there is no need to make your morning routine more stressful.
5. Make your children accountable for themselves. Take some of that work off of your plate and put it on theirs. Even if your kiddo is as young as 3, they can be responsible for some of the things that need to get done in the morning. Getting themselves dressed, bringing their breakfast dishes to the sink, and making sure they have their teeth brushed are some simple things young children can take charge of in the morning. Slightly older children can even be responsible for making their own breakfasts or making sure their lunch is packed and ready to go. The older they get, the more children should be expected to pitch in. It is never too early to teach children to be indpendant and self-sufficient.
Starting a morning out on a calm smooth note can set the tone for your whole day. Make all of these changes tomorrow or maybe just one at a time. But a simple reorganizing of how you use your time can make all the difference when getting out the door on time in the morning with kiddos in tow.