It’s that time again–back to school! Getting kids out the door in the morning is one of of the most stressful times of the day for parents. When the school year begins, the lazy days of summer come to an abrupt end, and if your kids don’t know what to expect… well, you know what can happen.
Here are 3 tips for getting your children on board with the morning routine:
- One place for everything. Set up a separate basket, bin, or box for each child’s things near the door. Backpacks, lunchboxes, shoes, jackets, hats, mittens, and everything they need to take with them each morning goes in the basket. This way, even preschoolers can be given some autonomy to get themselves ready. If you prefer hooks, mount them at a kid-friendly height.
- Strategize precious bathroom time. Unless each person in your family has a bathroom of their own, you’ll need to take turns. Agree on a bathroom schedule and stick to it — if you snooze, you lose. Bonus for those who opt to shower at night: they might get to spend more than just 15 minutes in there.
- Make them part of the AM schedule. Print out a schedule or checklist of what needs to happen every morning. Laminate it and keep it on the fridge or post it on the front door — your kids can check things off in washable marker. Keep it simple. A preschooler or Kindergartener will be able to follow a simple checklist with pictures. For an older child, you could include a time for each task, e.g. “7:10am Brush teeth,” to add in another layer of independence. Try this Preschooler getting ready for school checklist from Frugal Mama (also read her post Ease the Morning Rush — it’s exactly what I’m talking about).
- Set a timer. Use a simple, inexpensive kitchen timer, and keep 1 in the bathroom and 1 in the kitchen. At first, you’ll feel like Pavlov and a compulsive drill sergeant all at once, making them jump when the timer dings, but it works. I give my kids a 5 minute warning before they need to finish breakfast and go get dressed–it’s the TIMER that’s telling them to do something, so I’m not (so much) the bad guy.
- Prep lunches in advance. If you pack your own kids’ lunches, do it the night before. If your kids are old enough to pack their own lunches, make it easy by putting all their options in 1 place. After I go grocery shopping, I cut up fruit and open up large bags of pretzels or what-have-you, and I pack it into snack-size containers for the week’s lunches.
And don’t forget to breathe. Happy back-to-school season!