It’s another frantic morning. Your daughter’s shoes are untied, your son’s wearing his underwear on the outside of his pants, you just realized you’re out of their favorite kind of bread, and the bus is waiting outside. Getting the kids out the door to school can be a burst of pandemonium and disorder each morning. But back-to-school doesn’t have to be as stressful as it sounds.
When last minute things happen, the important things go by the wayside. They forget to brush their teeth, they skip breakfast, they forget the lunch sack. Routines are really important in cutting down that chaos. Children really thrive on routines that are the same day in and day out; it builds confidence and gives them a sense of security.
Here are 11 tips and techniques to cut down on the mad scramble to get to school:
Choose clothes the night before. What’s more frustrating than the age-old struggle of “What should I wear?” every morning? As you’re helping them get ready for bed, give young kids two outfits two choose from. Lay the chosen one out on the floor in the shape of a human body. Little kids will love slipping into their human figure in the morning.
Make hair decisions the night before, too. If you have a girl, discuss her hair style choice at the same time she’s picking out her clothes. Is it going to be pony tails? Braids? Ribbons? Barrettes? Little girls can take forever making this decision.
Don’t wait until the morning to pack bags. Have your son or daughter fill and place their back packs in their own designated space – like a cubby or cabinet, or in front of the door – the night before. Remind them to include all their homework, plus books and notebooks, and other things they might need, like items for show and tell. If it’s cold weather season, lay out mittens, scarves and boots, too.
Prepare lunch ahead of time. While making dinner the night before, make up the kids’ lunches and store them in the fridge. In addition to sandwiches or wraps, things like applesauce, carrot sticks, pretzels, and yogurts are great – and healthy – ways to fill out a lunch bag. Don’t forget to slip in a napkin with a personalized note on it.
Think bulk. Cut down on food preparation time by preparing vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower as soon as you get home from the store. Wash and cut up the veggies all at once, and put them in large – or individual-serving – storage bags. Then all you have to do is grab a ready-to-go serving of veggies and pop it into the kids’ lunches.
Make a checklist. If your child knows how to read, help them make a checklist to consult each morning. Keep it simple and short. It might include items such as:
- Brushed my teeth
- Made my bed
- Fed the pet
- Grabbed my lunch box
- Kissed mom and dad goodbye
If your child isn’t reading yet, you can make up a fun list by using pictures instead of words.
Utilize time-saving products. Especially for younger kids, consider enlisting time-saving devices designed to cut down on time-consuming tasks. Got a youngster who may not know how to tie his or her shoes yet, but definitely knows how to untie them? Instead of wasting precious morning time helping Junior tie and retie his shoes consider a solution like Zackaroos, elastic shoe fasteners that take the place of laces. The inexpensive, durable bands (available at www.zackaroos.com) can be inserted into the eyelets of kids’ shoes to easily convert their regular sneakers into slip-ons. Zackaroos elastic shoe fasteners can be found at www.zackaroos.com.
Cut out the cartoons. Make the a.m. hours a no-TV zone to avoid having to remind your kids to pull themselves away from the television, video game or computer when they should be getting ready to go.
Plan ahead for surprises. Keep a supply of cookies in your freezer. When your son or daughter informs you the morning of the class party that they were in charge of supplying treats, you’ll be ready.
Be realistic. Think twice about how much you’ll be able to do for yourself in the morning rush while you’re also trying to get your child ready. Attempting to pay the electric bill, writing a check, and getting it in the mailbox while the morning routine is going on is simply too much to tackle all at once.
Give yourself a fighting chance. Set all the clocks in the house ahead five or 10 minutes. Even with these tips, you’ll need every spare minute you can get!
Bonus Tip. I thought of something else I did with my kids when they were quite young. I asked them not to come downstairs for breakfast until they were dressed for the day. It’s amazing how much time this saved. Otherwise, if they stay in their jammies, they’re in the mindset of being quite relaxed, without the sense of urgency of being ready for the bus, going to daycare, etc.