If school mornings are anything like summer camp mornings...then we have a situation. In fact, I might be looking into hiring someone to get my kids ready for school because I. Just. Can't. The situation is this: mornings are so stressful that I age a year each morning and feel like I've worked 8 hours by the time we get out of the door! Things get stressful and I enter a different state of mind when we're finally in the garage, but then it takes another 10 minutes for them to get in their car seats. Just get in the seats! You don't need to find your caterpillar and snail from yesterday!!! We can't find our shoes and even if we do, we have to ask five times to put them on. We're begging for teeth brushing and hair brushing - if we can find the brush, which is usually in the car from when we didn't have time to brush yesterday morning. I've got to get myself ready, but really I'm doing work tasks while I think they are eating, but really they are playing pretend in their rooms. We've got two weeks until school starts and we can NOT have this situation going into the school year. So we've put together a list of ways to help everyone cure, "The Morning Situation."
1. The Parent Situation
If you're like me, you either want to relax and review your i-phone or you need to work until the moment they wake up. Every precious moment to yourself helps! But when school starts, if the parent is not ready, this can be the root of the cause for the morning situation. For me, even if I can get that much more work done in the morning while they are sleeping, its not worth the stressful morning. Plus, stopping early gives them your attention and you have more time for snuggles.
Parents must get up much earlier than the child to be showered, have coffee if needed, and in my husband's case, he has breakfast on the table and ready to go so they can eat when they wake up. If you are ready, you don't use 15 minutes of time where you think they are getting their shoes on and teeth brushed, because preschoolers and even older just aren't going to do that out of the goodness of their hearts. Fifteen minutes can mean the difference between a relaxing drive to school and a fully stressed out drive speeding down the street.
2. The Cleaning Situation
In the mornings everything in our kitchen is a mess! I'm trying to do the dishes, put clothes in the laundry, find their favorite clean, "small spoon," for cereal, and even clearing off the tea cups from our sleepy time tea party from the night before. All of those items makes for stress and loss of minutes.
I'm all talk, but this year I'm going to attempt to have dishes done at night and know that everything we need for the day is ready. I'm going to limit the urge to get my laundry done because it doesn't really help to take out the dry clothes and throw them on the couch. That mess can wait. Even though I just want to drop into my bed and crash each evening, I can muster up energy to clean before bath time to help the mornings!
3. The Lunchbox/Water Bottle Situation
At the end of last year, my husband asked where the water bottles were. I never know where they are and we have to search the house and cars for them each morning. Usually they are in the car seat cup holders and still need to be cleaned. The lunch boxes are in the front seat with yesterday's snack trash. And we have every single round tupperware bottom with all the square lids. Snack packing is a total disaster! This year we're packing lunch...for two, and I know it's all going down in the mornings!
Be sure to bring everything in from the car or from back packs the moment you walk in the house. Empty everything and return it to where it goes so the kids can help get their lunch boxes and fill their water bottles. During back to school shopping, commit to one shape Tupperware or some kind of fancy lunch box and then come home and organize your container cabinet and recycle your other shapes. Knowing where everything is and that you have matching lids saves minutes!
4. The Getting Out Of The Door Situation
In our house we play non stop from the moment we wake up to the moment we hit the pillow. This means that we can NOT concentrate on brushing our teeth, getting our shoes on, and getting out the door. We ask for these tasks over and over, but for a 3 year old and a rising kindergartner, this part of every morning is a struggle.
Part of the cure goes back to having yourself ready. If you're brushing your teeth and putting on makeup, then no one is getting the kids ready. If you can be present with them and help them in a relaxed state, they are more likely to complete the task. If they can do things on their own, then another cure is to offer play time when the have clothes on, teeth brushed, hair brushed and shoes on. And lastly, be sure to know where shoes are the night before. We sometimes must check every room in the house, come to find they are on the porch from the night before.
5. The Timing Situation
If you're like us, we're always racing to school and the last ones in the door. We're rushing to get in the car, we're throwing the car doors open at school and running to the classroom. I always wonder what people think when they see our madness!
Be sure to know your timing for your family. If your child is a slow eater, be sure they are up earlier so they can relax for breakfast. If you have to leave by a certain time, aim for 15 minutes earlier so even if you're 15 minutes late, you are still on time. It feels so good when you do leave 15 minutes earlier and you can drive slowly to school, talk to your kids instead of concentrating on racing past cars while your kids note the speed limit for you, and you can walk the grounds and spend early morning quality time together. Walking into school leisurely is a dream I had one time. But I'm determined to do it this year!
What ever time you have to be at school, what ever your morning state, I hope these tips help improve your situation. Starting out mornings in a relaxing state helps the entire day. We wish you the best at getting back into your morning routine and have a great school year. For all the back to school events in Jacksonville, click here!