I’ve finally gotten my kids ready for back to school. I bought the clothes, the gear, the supplies. I’ve been doing “homework” and getting out of the house at a regular time. I’ve visited the school campus. But the true test, the reality check that summer is over? A smooth morning routine for school.
My family faced a new challenge this fall. Not only is my eldest going to school, but now his twin brothers are too. And they’re going to different schools with about the same pick up and drop off schedules. With an hour to wake the boys, get them dressed, fed and out the door, we have our hands full.
So yeah… back to school, or, in my twins’ case, first-time at school, will be different.
Tips for a smooth morning routine for school
To make life easier, I’ve compiled six tips that have made those school mornings smoother. I hope they work for you too.
1. Get everything ready the night before
I always tell myself: No matter how tired you are in the evenings, you’ll be even more tired in the mornings. And I get it—it sucks to ‘waste’ your evenings preparing for the next day. I’d rather be on my computer, watch a movie, or read. Not pack school lunches or think about what the kids will wear.
But the more you can get out of the way in the evenings, the smoother your mornings will be. Make sure your child’s backpack includes everything he needs to bring, such as:
- library books to return
- spare change of clothes
- lunch and snacks
- water bottle
Extend this advice not only to your kids but to yourself, as well. Take a shower the night before. Iron your clothes. Pack your work bag along with your lunch.
Preparing the night before can save you loads of time the next morning.
2. Eat the same breakfast on weekdays
Oatmeal five times a week? It’s the easiest way to run on auto pilot while still making sure you feed your kids. Pick your typical breakfast food and stick to it every weekday. You can add variety by offering a different side of fruit each day.
And stick to a simple breakfast. It takes five minutes to make oatmeal, but several more to make pancakes and eggs.
Run your mornings on autopilot, including your breakfast. That way you don’t have to complicate your mornings further.
3. Get a good night’s rest
Make sure you get your eight hours of sleep the night before school, especially the first days of school. Kids should sleep 10-12 hours. Tired parents and kids too cranky to function are the last things you need come school mornings.
Plus, your child will feel more alert the next day. As found in Scholastic:
Like food and shelter, a child’s need for sleep is basic. The healthiest, happiest kids are the best rested. A child’s ability to learn, imagine, create, and socialize are all linked to getting a sound night’s sleep, as rest gives a growing body and brain a chance to consolidate experiences, archive the day’s memories, and process emotions.
4. Make sure your car has gas
One of the most annoying feelings is trying to make it somewhere on time before realizing your car tank is empty. Avoid last-minute trips to the gas station or worrying whether you have enough gas to get you to school or work. Fill up on the weekends (or on Fridays) to get you through the week. Anything to avoid an extra trip on the way to school.
5. Wake up earlier than the kids
On weekends, I let myself wake up with no alarm nearby. On school and work days, however, waking up before the kids is crucial. This is the time of day when I can get myself ready, tend to things I need to, and be fully alert before they wake up.
As your kids get older, they’ll be more patient in the mornings, but for younger kids, waking up earlier than they do saves time and make your mornings run smoother.
Waking up early allows you to take care of your needs first. You can also do things you’d rather do alone like packing lunches to getting dressed. And you can use that time to prepare breakfast and avoid hungry and cranky children.
6. Follow the same morning routine every day
One of the many benefits of implementing routines is they do the ‘nagging’ for you. Kids run on autopilot when they know what’s next.
For instance, my kids wake up and get dressed in their bedroom. Then they file out of the room and eat their oatmeal and fruit. After that, they wash up and brush their teeth. Then it’s a few minutes of play time. When my husband announces it’s time to leave, my son heads to the front door to put on his shoes and grab his bag.
In most cases, the kids know to do these things without us telling them because they do the same thing every single day.
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School mornings can be some of the most chaotic for any parent. You’re rushing out the door, forgetting things to bring and the kids are slow to put their shoes on. No wonder you’ve been late or cranky by the time you drop them off.
Your mornings don’t have to be that way. With a consistent morning routine, you can get out the door on time and enjoy your kids in the mornings.
Get more tips about routines:
- 9 Simple Tips to Teach Your Child to Get Dressed
- How to Deal when Your Child Cries at Drop Off
- More than Just PB&J: Vary Your Child’s Meals with These School Lunch Ideas
- The 4-Step Solution to Tantrums
- Smart Ways to Cope When You’re Tired All the Time
Your turn: What makes a smooth morning routine for school in your home? Let me know in the comments!