Archive for the ‘Tips For School Mornings’ Category

School mornings can be hectic, hurried and completely insane but we’ve learned a few things along the way to help keep our mornings as chaos free as possible…

Be Prepared

Pick out your clothes the night before.  This means everything, pants, shirts, socks, etc.  If they will be wearing it the next day have it out and ready for them.  I actually pick out my kid’s clothes, with their help, for the entire week, on Sunday’s.  I iron and hang them in their closets and then the night before school my children pick out what outfit they’d like for the next day and we lay it out nicely with everything they’ll be wearing the next morning.  Pack backpacks and lunches (if your child brings a cold lunch) the night before, also.  Making sure that phy-ed clothes/shoes, homework, show and tell items, whatever it is they need for the next day of school is in their bag will avoid the rush of searching for these items in the morning.  The only thing you wont be able to put in their back pack the night before is their lunch (if things need to be kept cool) and maybe a book they are reading.  I set my kids lunches in their backpacks while they are getting ready in the morning and remind them to put their books in their bags when they come down for breakfast.  You should also have a designated spot for their backpacks, coats, shoes and anything else they’ll need before leaving the house in the morning.  We have hooks where our kids coats and bags hang and their shoes sit right below these items on the floor.  That way they can easily grab their things right before heading out the door.

Know Your Childs Schedule

One of the keys to being able to make sure their backpack is packed with everything they’ll need for school is to know your child’s school schedule.  Know which day’s they have phy-ed, show and tell, library, etc. so that all the proper items are packed.  At the beginning of the school year I make out a spreadsheet for my children with their names along the side and the days of the school week on top and fill in each day’s agenda so I don’t have to try to remember what days are what for each child.  With two kids in school, this year it will be three, I can sometimes forget who has library or phy ed on what day so I just refer to my spreadsheet hanging in my pantry (I hang it near our wall calendar so that I can check for special things like field trips, concerts, etc also.) and know how to plan for each of my children.  I also include the times of their lunches and recesses so that I know when to schedule appointments for them and when to schedule a lunch date with them.  By knowing their schedule and packing what they need the night before school we’ve saved ourselves a little hassle.

Ready by…

Create a “ready by” time.  A time that your kids have to have done whatever they want to get done that morning by a certain time.  Our “ready by” time is 7:00, when we eat breakfast.  If they have something they want to do or a last minute thing they want in their backpacks it needs to be done by this time or it’s not going to get done.  They will sometimes hurry through breakfast and ask if they can look for something at this time, but the trick is to remain firm and stick to your rules so that they learn to be prepared.  If I allowed them to go look for the item then the bus would be waiting and honking at the end of the driveway.  Having this rule teaches them respect for others (the time of the bus driver and students on the bus) and cause and effect (you didn’t get ready fast enough so I couldn’t braid your hair like you wanted).

How To Wake A Sleeper

My middle daughter wakes up right away in the morning, sometimes before the alarm even goes off.  A lot of this is because she’s a natural early bird but most of it is because she knows the earlier she’s out of bed the more time she has to snuggle on the couch and chat with me before she has to get ready.  This snuggle time is very important to both of us.  My oldest daughter, however, is a sleeper and it’s so, so hard to rouse her on a school morning.  We’ve now started the 10 for 5 rule.  She knows that she doesn’t have to get up when her alarm goes off, she has a sort of snooze button.  That snooze button is 10 minutes after her alarm has gone off when I’ve finished snuggling Miranda and come tell her it’s time to get up.  She will try to continue to sleep even after this so I have to come and try to wake her ever 5 minutes.  Ever time I have to do this, in other words, every 5 minutes she sleeps longer she has to go to bed 10 minutes earlier than her normal bed time.  This has helped a ton though to be honest there are still mornings where I’ve had to tell her 3-4 times to wake up but going to bed early that night is insentive to wake up on time the next morning.

Dealing With The Doddler

While my middle daughter is great at waking up in the morning she also tends to doddle when she’s supposed to be getting dressed and making her bed which would result in her coming down to breakfast late and having to hurriedly engulf a bowl of cereal.  It was with great pain that I implemented the rule of losing morning snuggle time.  I hated doing it because I enjoy this time with her just as much as she does but it was the only thing that would get her dressed and her bed made on time.  I explained to her that if she was going to take so long to get dressed that she probably needed that snuggle time as extra getting dressed time.  So the rule goes that if she takes too long to get dressed and make her bed  then snuggle time is lost for the next morning.  Luckily for both of us I’ve only had to implement this a few times.  Some of you may not have a snuggle time that you can take away but perhaps their is something else they enjoy doing in the morning or telling them that if they are going to take so long getting ready then they’ll have to wake up earlier the next morning would work.

Stagger Bathroom Times

I wish my kids could be in the bathroom brushing their teeth and hair at the same time, but they can’t, not without fighting anyway.  So I have them take turns brushing their teeth and they bring their hair brushes to their bedrooms to brush their hair.  I’ve found the more they can avoid each other in the morning the better.  They really get along great most of the time, but my oldest, the sleepy head can be really grumpy in the morning.  Staggered bathroom time helps avoid fights.

Create A Routine

This goes for both morning and night.  Make sure your kids always go to bed at the same time.  Yes, there will be some busy nights where you are out later than normal, but keeping a regular bedtime is very important to make sure you don’t have to deal with grumpy kids in the morning.  Be sure that whatever time you are putting them to bed allows them to get the sleep they need before they have to wake in the morning.  Most kids need between 8 – 12 hours of sleep.  Establish a morning routine for your child. First they brush their teeth, then hair, next they get dressed and then eat breakfast before getting their things on to leave for school.  Obviously the routine doesn’t have to be that exactly.  You need to have a routine that best works for you and your child.  Perhaps making a chart for you child would help with his or her morning routine.  Establishing a regular routine will keep them from standing around doing nothing but wondering what they should do next.

Breakfast Time

Before the reality of what school mornings would actually be like, I pictured myself always making a big breakfast of pancakes or eggs with some fresh fruit or yogurt and a glass of juice or milk ready for them. Once I realized that school mornings in our home are too busy for a big meal, cereal was the best way to go for this family.  And there are some mornings, actually a lot of mornings, where they told me the night before they wanted to sleep in, so they opted for school breakfast.  Wether it’s big hearty breakfasts, cereal, an apple on the go or school breakfast do whatever works for your family’s morning.  Don’t feel like you have to be super mom.

Be Ready Too

I’ve found that our mornings go much smoother if I’ve been up for an hour or so before them and have myself all dressed and ready for the day before it’s time for them to be awake.  I notice on the days that I allow myself to hit the snooze too many times myself I’m more easily irritable.  On the days I’m up and ready I’m more awake, which means I’m more cheerful and able to deal with their morning mayhem.  Being ready also helps me set a good example to my children of how their mornings should go.  If I’m standing around ordering them to brush their teeth and hair and get dressed while I’m in my pajamas, with morning breath and bed head I’m being a bit hypocritical.  Set an example and be ready and fully awake for them.

These things have helped us out a ton.  No, our mornings, aren’t always smooth sailing.  There are still the occasional fights between the girls, tears are shed because they didn’t get something in their backpack before breakfast or some other dilema will arise.  But all in all our mornings are much smoother.

What tricks and tips do you have to share that might help out me and others to smooth sailing school mornings?


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