Here are five must-know tips for making your school mornings easy and stress-free:
1) Decide on clothes the night before:
It can be easily said that outfit choices are the downfall of all school-aged parents. Kids never want to wear what you pick out, and they always want clothes that are in the wash. Having them make their wardrobe decisions the night before school can be an effective way to make mornings easier.
Create a nightly routine. After the kids brush their teeth, it’s time to pick out an outfit. Give them as much freedom and responsibility as time and sensibility allows but make it clear that once their decision is made they have to stick by it or else the privilege is gone.
And, by the way, this tip doesn’t just apply to kids. Parents can make life a lot easier on themselves if they reduce their morning decisions and prepare their outfit the night before. Keep that in mind.
2) Process their homework folder and backpack, daily:
Put this activity on your daily schedule. It’s an easy task to overlook, but it sure cuts down on the times when a last-minute spelling test or unsigned permission slip suddenly pops-up on their way out the door.
Make it a point to empty everything out of their backpack and homework folder and go over all contents, discussing assignments and removing the graded and returned papers. It’s a great activity for chatting about school progress and problems, and for choosing those papers deemed “fridge-worthy.” Older kids can do this process on their own and provide a nightly status report.
By making it an afternoon routine when your kids first come home from school you’ll be stressing your involvement in their school time and you’ll create a great jump-off point for starting homework for the day. It’s also a great time to retrieve their lunchbox because you still might be able to save that uneaten banana.
3) Prepare meals the night before:
Of all tips listed here, this is the one single activity that absolutely must be a repeating activity on your daily planner’s to-do list. Meal planning, if done properly, is one of the easiest ways you can take undue stress out of your morning.
Set aside some time each night, before you begin your bedtime routine, to prepare meals. Make your bag lunches, get the kids’ breakfast dishes washed and cereal picked out, and have dinner in the refrigerator defrosting, if it applies.
You could even go a step further and sit down with your notebook each Sunday and write out an entire set of meals for the week. Think about all the brain drain you’ll save by having your meals planned for the whole week.
A unique meal-planning tool is the Day-Timer Family Plus Solution Set. It offers a useful meal planning section on every planning page.
4) Create a backpack station:
Here’s an easy school morning organizer that can be established with a few office tools and a little planning. Set up a “backpack station” in a convenient area of your kitchen or hallway that can store all school morning tools and resources. This alleviates the need for last-minute hunting for forgotten items. It serves as a home base, a place where kids will know where to put their things to prepare for school.
As simple as a table, or as complex as a set of cubbies and storage hooks, it can include a school calendar, storage for backpack, lunchbox, phone, keys, musical instruments (we all know about that forgotten violin on band day). Not a bad place to keep a phone charger either.
Use a bulletin board like this Mead dry erase board. You can hang monthly school and activity schedules and write important notes and reminders you’ll see before you head out the door.
5) Get the kids involved in their preparation:
Early and often, task your kids in school preparation activities. There’s a lot of truth to the idea if you let kids take ownership of their activities, you’ll be amazed by how well they respond. For example: assign your kids the nightly task of packing their backpacks, putting them by the door, and having their coats ready for morning based on the evening weather report.
It’s a huge win for these young minds when they come through and succeed. Furthermore, you’ll spare yourself tons of blame and frustration when mornings get chaotic and stressful.
Kids need reminders, so putting a daily note on their door always helps. Stock up on some stickies or Self-Stick Hotlists to keep their tasks front and center.
Yes, it takes a little planning, but boy will you enjoy the rewards of a sweat-free, hassle free morning. Give these tips a try and decide for yourself which ones will help you on the first day of school, and every day thereafter.
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