School day mornings don’t have to suck…
I have mixed feelings about the start of the school year rolling around again. The lightning speed of which the summer zipped by is both a relief and mildly depressing, but regardless of how I feel about it, one thing’s for sure: it is here and our lazy summer mornings are about to get a giant dose of me screeching “hurry up, you’re making us all late!”
My two 5-year-olds are starting Kindergarten this year. We have a year of preschool and a year of Pre-Kindergarten at public school under our belts, so we sort of know what to expect. My kids are still young and need a lot of prodding and coaching to make things happen as far as getting up and at ‘em on a daily basis go. And while I haven’t figured out a way to make school day mornings fun…if you do, call me and tell me your secrets…I have found a few little hacks that make them a little bit bearable and I’m sharing them since everyone I know seems to be in back to school mode right about now.
- Use Sunday night to your advantage
I love, love, love the weekends. I like the semi-lazy mornings drinking my coffee in bed and the little break from the Monday through Friday grind. I usually spend Sunday nights crying in my wineglass in complete denial that another week snuck up on me, but I try to spend at least an hour prepping for the week ahead.
I look at the calendar and try to get in front of any school events that that might require special clothing or equipment, or worse yet, require me to bake something. This will not guarantee that I won’t be mixing cupcake batter at 11:30 at night because I forgot, but it a little glance at the week ahead usually helps keep me semi-organized. See also realizing Friday is a teacher inservice day only when the drop off line is suspiciously quiet. This is embarrassing and makes me grumpy.
Although I don’t make lunches for the week in one pop, I do a quick check to make sure we’re not out of lunchbox staples. If I’m feeling super organized, I might pre-bag some cut up fruits and veggies and throw them in the crisper so I can grab them when I pack lunches through the week.
And finally, I make sure I’ve gone through the dreaded backpack folder. I try to do this as soon as the kids come home from school but sometimes I forget and get a nasty surprise…like last week’s lunch remnants. Ew.
- The night before can make the morning bearable
Before I hit the hay, I make sure the backpacks are packed with whatever they’re supposed to be packed with, that lunches are made and in the fridge and that school clothes are laid out. I put the shoes and socks by the front door so there’s zero drama over misplaced footwear that involves a yelling mom and tearful kids…no one likes to start the day like that.
If your kids eat breakfast at home, you can save yourself a few minutes by setting the table for breakfast. At my house this means piling bowls and spoons on the kitchen counter and getting the cereal box out of the pantry, but hey, it works for us. Little things make mornings go more smoothly when you’re scrambling around like crazy people trying to get everyone fed and out the door…that happens at your house, too, right?
- Talk to your kids
When your children are younger, talk often to them about what the next step is. For early elementary, the last day of school was a loooong time ago and each school year is different. Don’t assume they’re going to be quick to adjust to the new routine. If your summer mornings were lazy and unstructured (i.e. TV or electronics before breakfast) then being rushed to get dressed, eat and being shoved out the door might be an unpleasant shock to their system. I mean…starting school is a shock to my system, too, but I kind of know the routine.
- Some kids need extra time – and some moms do, too
One of my boys wakes up on his own: the usual morning noises in our house rouse him up and he bounces out of bed in a reasonably sunny mood. On the days this doesn’t happen, a gentle shake and “time to get up, honey” does the trick. My other kid resembles a baby T-Rex if I try to wake him up before he’s ready. I solve this problem by turning on the light in his room about half an hour before I need him to be out of bed. This lets the routine noise of our house drift into his room and he’ll eventually wake up on his own…he’s grumpy, but not as grumpy as he would be if I forced him awake. And yes, I am completely dreading his teen years.
I am a habitual early riser, but I would not call myself a morning person. I get up before my kids do because I like that sliver of time to suck down my coffee without my small humans crawling all over me and asking me for stuff. Having those few extra minutes helps set to ground me and that sets the tone for the day. If I’m a big ole grouch in the morning it rubs off on my kids…and that makes mornings more unpleasant than they need to be.
Here’s wishing you a great school year and ahead! And remember, mornings don’t have to suck, people.
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