For many families, the beginning of the new school year means a return to morning mayhem. Getting the kids ready and out of the house can leave you extremely stressed – but it doesn’t have to be that way.
A few simple changes can make a big difference. And if they become part of a routine, it can make your life so much easier.
Do as much as possible the night before
This is a no-brainer. Get lunches ready and in the fridge – some can even be frozen days in advance and will defrost by lunchtime. Fill water bottles. Make sure clothes are chosen and laid out. Check that permission forms, trip money, library books and sports gear are in their bags (get the kids to do it if they’re old enough) and homework is done and signed.
Set ground rules
Let children know what is expected – and stick to the rules. Have a checklist if necessary. If they get out of bed 15 minutes later than they should, make them go to bed 15 minutes earlier that night. If you have to nag them to do something, apply appropriate discipline: for example, for every time you have to tell them to clean their teeth, they lose five minutes of computer time. They’ll soon get the idea.
Work out a timetable for everyone
You may have to tailor these to each child, depending on how good they are at getting ready. A real slow coach may have to get up earlier than his or her siblings to get ahead.
Only do what has to be done in the morning
Loading them with extra tasks, especially unexpected ones, is just asking for trouble. If making beds and washing dishes is part of the routine, factor in the time for them to be done, but decide which jobs – such as cleaning the cat-box – can be done in their after school time.
Don’t use alarms only to get everyone up – set your phone or clock to go off 10 minutes before they are due to go out the door, so they know it is time to get a move on. Don’t trust them to keep an eye on the time!
Ban TV and all electronics
They’re a terrible distraction, and not necessary. A teen who wants to spend half an hour every morning checking social media and messages needs to get up half an hour earlier.
Get yourself ready first
You know how flight attendants on planes tell parents flying with children to see to themselves first in case of an emergency? It’s the same with getting the family ready in the morning. Once you are ready you can focus on the kids, and you don’t want to be the one to hold things up because you’re still running around doing your make-up. Get up 15 minutes earlier if you have to.