The morning rush hour isn’t just for commuters on the freeway. It can also apply to busy moms trying to get their kids out the door on time for school. “Where is my backpack?” “What’s for breakfast?” and “What should I wear today?” are just a few of the barrage of early morning questions that somehow are all directed your way. Although it takes a little planning, to make things run more smoothly in the morning, try starting the night before. The more you can do in advance of the morning, the better it will be for everyone. Really!
Early to bed, Early to rise
Grandma was right, this saying is true. If your child has a tough time getting up in the morning, institute an earlier bedtime. Even 15 or 30 minutes earlier at night can make a big difference in his or her attitude in the morning.
A corollary to this one is just for you, Mom: set your own alarm for 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Rise and shine before your family does, enjoy that cup of coffee in quiet before they awake. Although it stinks that you need to be the one who sacrifices, the calmness is worth it.
Preparation is key.
Lay out your daughter’s entire outfit for the next day, including hair bows and socks, if they care about such things. You don’t want to miss the bus because she dissolved into tears over not finding her special Barbie barrette.
Generally, boys don’t seem to have the picky clothes gene and most just want a T-shirt—any T-shirt—and shorts. But if he needs a special Cubs shirt, find it the night before. (You’ll thank me later for this one.) This will also tell you whether you need to do laundry. You don’t want your child going to school with mustard stains.
Designate a School Zone
Keep all of your kid’s school papers, forms, schedules and backpacks in one area. If possible, make separate binders or hanging folders for each child. This way, everything is in one general spot. To really work ahead, check homework and sign any permission slips the night before. Then pack up the backpacks, zip them closed and line them up, ready to go.
Make a Master Task List
Involve your child on this one. Ask them to think of all the things they need to do before they leave for school in the morning. Then, create a checklist. This does two things: (1) it helps them take ownership of the job and (2) helps you not to have to nag them for every step. The list could include: Make bed; Brush teeth; Brush hair; Eat breakfast; and of course, Hug Mom good-bye.
Once you have the list 5 to 8 items, let them decorate it with stickers or drawings. Then laminate the list, or cover both sides with clear Contact paper, attach an erasable marker in their favorite color and put it on a clipboard in a special place in their room. Then, they can check off the items as they do them. And you can quietly enjoy a second morning cup of coffee.
Check their backpack if you haven’t already. You don’t want to find out that they needed to bring 100 raisens to school in the morning. At least if you see it before bed you can run to the convenience store. They know me well there.
Track the Time
If your son tends to wander off or get distracted, you can take the Master List one step further and set a simple kitchen timer for each task. Say, two minutes for brushing teeth, five minutes for making the bed, etc. If they get everything done in time, then you can reward him with a special book or money for a snack. Leave the TV off. It can derail the most focused child in the morning.
Keep it light
Don’t feel like everything must be perfect every morning. It won’t be. Remember to keep your sense of humor when things go wrong. The kids can smell your tension like a burnt casserole (not that any of us know what that is). If you are able to laugh, so will they.
Here are more ways to get kids back on the school routine