We are a few weeks into the school year and the slow summer holiday mornings have come to a skidding halt. We are back to building lunch boxes, rummaging around for clean uniforms, stuffing homework and readers into school bags and battling to get out the door on time. For most of us it can feel like herding cats trying to get the kids to do their morning routine without constant reminding and hassling. It’s easy to lose patience and just do everything for them or worse, end up shouting. That’s not good for anyone in the long run and who wants to start the day with so much stress?
Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to go this way. Kluwell have some tips to get you and the kids out the door on a positive note.
Create a routine with your child that will encourage them to feel competent and cooperative
Sit down with your child on the weekend and have a chat about school morning routines. Let them know they are part of a team and they have an important role to play. Ask them if they have any thoughts on how you are all going to work as a family to get ready in the morning.
Get them to list all the things they need to do to be ready on school mornings.
Create a chart or a list that is clear to read and simple to follow. Include between four and ten actions depending on age, that need to be done so they are ready to walk out the door in time for school.
You could collaborate to make a chart with drawings by the kids that illustrate each step needed to get ready. An even better idea: take photos of your child doing each action on the list and place them in order on the fridge or on a board where they can easily see it. This way, if they get distracted or forget what to do next, you can point to the chart to prompt them. This will take a lot of frustration and constant reminding out of the morning rush that can leave us feeling like we have already done a day’s work by the time we leave the house.
It can take a while for the routine to sink in and for the kids to remember to follow the chart each morning. But, if you persist you will find it won’t be long before they are using it independently. Eventually you just might be able to sit down and enjoy your morning coffee!
Prepare lunches that don’t take you too much time and the kids will eat and enjoy
We all dream of a lunch box Genie that will magically create the perfect lunch with a quick rub of the lid, or we open the fridge and ta da! There are lunch boxes all shiny and lined up full of everything the kids will eat without complaint.
Or, we sit down with the kids on the weekend and discuss healthy food preferences for each day and what types of food are ruled out. Get them involved in writing the shopping list and helping you at the supermarket. Their involvement in creating a lunch box options list will encourage them to eat their lunches. Then you don’t have to feel like a conjurer who needs to manifest lunches each morning.
It doesn’t have to be a sandwich every day. Discuss with them variations, including pasta salad, sausage rolls, mini pizzas or sushi. Preparing a batch on a Sunday and then simply adding to the lunchbox each morning can save you a little bit of precious time. Cakes and slices can be cut up into portions, wrapped and frozen, ready to be popped into the lunch box and be defrosted by recess.
Make Sleep a Priority
Keeping to a set bedtime routine is important for young brains to grow and learn, and for general wellbeing. Tired kids are grumpy or sad kids. Overtired erratic children can’t learn at school, or function socially in the playground.
Children’s lives are getting busy again now that extracurricular activities have also kicked off for term one. This can often mean that dinner and down time before bed can get later and later in the evening. Winding down before bed is important so that sleep comes quickly once the head hits the pillow.
On those days when getting home late is unavoidable, try and have dinner prepared earlier or a plan to heat up left overs, or a quick to prepare meal. This will help keep the bed time routine to a reasonable hour. The point is to be organised enough to get the kids in bed on time to get a good night’s sleep. Dragging a sleepy, tired child through the morning routine and out the door is not fun.
Each family is different. We are all doing our best to raise healthy, competent, happy children and routine is a key factor in a functioning family dynamic.