Back-to-School Morning Chaos? No, Thank You
My home recently underwent two years of renovations. And although the lengthy process had distinct disadvantages, there was one perk: a hole in the ceiling directly under my son’s bed. Rather than run upstairs and make sure his alarm had done its job, I was able to bang on the floor of his bedroom with a broom handle. This crude wakeup call saved precious moments for me on a daily basis. With a new school year arriving, you may also be dreading those early mornings. But even if you don’t have a convenient hole in your ceiling in which to beat against your child’s bedroom floor, you can save time and hassle in the morning. Here are some tips to help you along.
Get kids to bed on time
Everything runs more smoothly when kids get enough sleep. According to leading sleep expert Richard Ferber in his book Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems, the average 6-year-old needs ten and a half hours of sleep, and a 10-year-old needs an average of ten hours. While this may seem difficult with work, school schedules and after-school activities, the closer you can get to giving your child this much needed rest, the easier mornings will run. A well-rested child will be easier to rouse and more compliant with instructions throughout the day, not just early in the morning.
Pack lunch the night before
Early mornings will go more smoothly if you don’t realize you are out of carrots five minutes before you’re scheduled to leave the house. Packing lunch the night before not only saves time in the morning, but allows an extra cushion for when expected items are not on hand, making mornings much less hectic.
Get as much done on the weekends as you can
Mornings can run smoother if grocery shopping has already been planned for the week and the laundry is ready and waiting. Some parents even go as far as picking out outfits for the week and lining up five sets of snacks for lunch boxes during the weekend when the timing is not so critical.
Choose clothing the night before
Lining up the week’s clothing ahead of time is not feasible for everyone, but choosing clothing the night before saves much needed time in the morning. Not only does your child not have as much to think about in those groggy early mornings, but laundry emergencies such as a lack of clean socks can be taken care of the night before. Making sure shoes have a designated spot and are accounted for the night before will also help prevent morning mayhem.
Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier
Ten minutes may seem like a small amount, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to getting ready in the morning.
Keep backpacks ready
Have a designated spot for the backpacks. Before bed the night before, check that homework is already inside and ready to go! One easy way to accomplish this is to train your kids to put their homework into the backpack directly after doing it.
Make it a game
Try timing certain parts of their mornings. Some children will like the challenge of getting dressed faster today than they did yesterday.
Ban TV in the mornings
Even having the TV on to the news or weather can be distracting to children. If TV in the mornings is the habit at your house, try banning it for a week and see if it improves your morning routine.
Make certain chores up to your kids. Whether it’s picking out the clothes the night before or gathering snacks for the lunch box, kids should definitely be responsible for parts of the morning routine. In addition to making mornings run more smoothly, giving children more responsibility for themselves can benefit children in a myriad of ways including increased self-control and building problem solving skills.
Shower or bathe the night before
Especially if your child likes to lounge in the tub or shower, before or after dinner is a better time to bathe than mornings.
Using some or all of these tips can help prevent the morning mayhem. Just a little saved time in the morning can get your child off to a cheerier start to their day and help your child enter the classroom with the best foot forward.
Jill Morgenstern is a freelance writer with 13 years teaching experience, a Master’s in Teaching Reading, and is a mother of four.