School Morning Madness - How To Curb It
“Help! I wake up at 5am and I STILL can’t get my kids out the house on time!”
This was posted by one of the desperate moms on a group in response to the back-to-school stress many find themselves experiencing and contemplating alcoholism over.
We all discussed the best ideas to get the kids ready and out the door with minimal mom stress, then we laughed like it would actually work, and now I have compiled the best ideas here for us all to try so we don't land up in straight-jackets together.
1. Have a schedule
Have a daily schedule, as well as the different activities or extramurals that each child does, up on the wall either in their bedroom or in the central hub of the kitchen. This makes it easy to identify Tuesday as tennis day, Wednesday as violin day, or Thursday as extra maths torture, and pack the appropriate bags ahead of time, avoiding the morning madness and last minute panic of “But I need…"
Have the time they should be waking up, getting dressed, and leaving home by, even if they don't stick to it entirely, and consider having a merit chart for the younger ones to incentivise punctual and organised behaviour. Five gold stars gets them a pony. Or a chocolate, whatever.
2. Get organised the night before
Now you need to obey that schedule the night before! Get the bags packed and either IN the car, or waiting by the front door so you just need to put lunchboxes in. Speaking of which, lunch can be packed the night before too, so you don’t need to worry about organising two meals in one go. Leave them in the fridge, in clearly marked lunchboxes, and all the kids need to do is pop them in their bag. Next, lay out uniforms down to their underwear, so that they can roll out of bed, brush their hair and get dressed without having a tantrum about AWOL socks or a dirty shirt! And lastly make sure all kids bath the night before, so there are no day-dreamy morning showers or submarine expeditions while you are trying to get into the car.
3. Start delegating
Obviously this needs to be age-appropriate, but for example telling kids to pack their own lunchboxes in their school bag is an appropriate level of responsibility for the younger ones to assume. Older kids can make their own lunch, and learn some life skills that they will need so desperately for varsity! Have a clock up in the bathroom and the kitchen, and get tough but not hysterical: when it is time to leave, you are ready waiting in the car. If your kids are late that becomes part of their problem to explain to the teachers.
Start encouraging them to check their own schedule and have a rule that whatever they forget is their problem… and stick to it! Do not make repeat trips to school to bring what they have left behind. Chances are that when they have to deal with the consequences once, they won’t forget again.
4. Make breakfast for the masses
One pot of oatmeal, with fruit and nuts added, is easy for everyone to sit down and feed themselves. Set a timer, and everyone must be sitting by 6.30 and done by 6.45. Or get eating on the go, and make one blender of smoothies, which you can then pour into each child’s bottle for the car trip to school. I love to add a bit of FutureLife, milk, fruit, yoghurt, and a spoon of peanut butter to smoothies to give everyone a sustainable and balanced breakfast that will fill them up and see them to lunch.
5. Lead by example
This is an awful one, because nothing can show you up like your kids! Kids learn by mimicking us. If you create a good routine for yourself and abide by it diligently, the children will fall in line more easily. It might mean waking up a half an hour earlier to water the garden or do some crunches, which might mean going to bed a half an hour earlier. But if YOU can avoid that mad rush and panic in the mornings because YOU are more organised, it can only catch on. If they consistently see you make better life choices for yourself, the foundation of self respect and a good attitude, they will stop the arguing and follow your lead.
These are kids, after all, no one has all the answers.
A friend said to me recently, “Don’t worry, the first twenty five years of parenting are the hardest.” Try not to let it get you down, stress you out, and do you in! Follow these ideas for your morning routine and hopefully there will be leaps and bounds of improvements for everyone. If not, well hell, there is always wine.
- Georgina Roberts