School mornings can be stressful for both parents and kids. They can be very hectic, with limited time to eat breakfast, get dressed, gather belongings, and get to school on time.
Here are some ideas for families to lower the stress and create a smoother school morning:
After the kids have completed their homework, have them pack their backpacks. Parents can sign permission slips, go through school papers, and gather any supplies needed for school the next day and pack them up. Does your child have their gym uniform and band instrument? When everything is ready the night before, there is less to do on school mornings.
Check the weather the evening before school so that kids can lay out their clothing and outerwear for the next day. With coats, hats, gloves, and boots laid out, there is less scramble to find everything the next morning. Also try laying out the entire week’s clothing on Sunday. “We have a small plastic set of drawers with five drawers that can be purchased in the storage section at Target,” said Alicia Dafferner, mother of two. “We put an outfit for both of the kids in each on Sunday.”
Many parents find that if they can wake up before the kids, they feel more refreshed and prepared for a productive morning. This gives them the time to take a few minutes to wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, or grab a quick shower. Mother of three, Jessi Cole, said, “I find that it helps if I get up early and get myself ready before my kids get up. That way, I only have to worry about them.”
Help make breakfast healthier and quicker by planning ahead. Sherry Hoffman, a mom of two boys, said, “I make several breakfast options that are freezer and toaster oven friendly on the weekends that we can choose throughout the week.” Ideas for freezer-friendly breakfast items include: breakfast burritos, waffles, french toast, or muffins. There are also easy to make options like whole grain cereal, yogurt with fruit and granola, or a breakfast smoothie. Many of these items can be prepared the night before to help the morning go smoother.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise
“I have noticed that it makes our mornings much smoother if my kids get enough sleep, so early bedtimes are a must,” said Hoffman. Kids who have a consistent early bedtime are more rested for an early wake up. Rested kids are also in better moods and stay on task on school mornings, causing less stress and conflict in the morning.
With limited time to prepare for school, it is best to eliminate electronic distractions. Parents and kids need to focus on the goal, which is getting to school on time. Distractions like television, handheld devices, and video games only slow down the process. Remind kids that there will be time for electronics after school, when their chores and homework are complete.
Packing a healthy school lunch (or multiple lunches) can take up a lot of time in the morning. Get a head start on lunch preparations by starting the evening before. “If my kitchen is clean, I feel like I am ahead of the game,” said Kim Burnette, mother of two. “Every night before going to bed, I prepare lunches for the next day, put away clean dishes, and reload the dishwasher.” By getting a head start the night before, you eliminate a big step, leaving you time for other things in the morning.
Adjusting to a new school schedule can take a while, but if parents do their best to prepare the night before and teach kids to do the same, the mornings will run much smoother.