Many school day mornings, I feel like I spend most of my time looking for lost socks or hunting for my keys. It sometimes seems that the main communication between me and the kids is reminding them to hurry up. Often by the time we head out the door for school, we're all stressed, running late and grumpy.
Sound familiar? The beginning of a new school year is a great time to evaluate your morning routine and revamp certain areas to reduce stress and help your family make it out of the house on time. Try these simple tips to start your day:
Create a schedule
Sit down with your kids and come up with a list of all of the things that need to be done from the time they wake up until the time you leave the house. Create a schedule for each child, including times for each task. Write out the schedule and hang it in a prominent place. For children who are not yet reading, use pictures to represent tasks, such as brushing teeth and putting on shoes.
If you see your kids getting off track, have them check the schedule to find out what they should be doing at that time. You can also use the kitchen timer to help keep them on schedule. "They can see the timer moving, and they are much more aware of the amount of time that has passed," says Rachel Rudman, mom of two.
Rudman also suggests a sticker chart to encourage younger children to stay focused by giving them a sticker for getting their morning tasks done on time.
Get ready the night before
One of the best ways to save time in the morning is to get as much ready the night before as possible. Set out your kids' clothes or get them to pick out their outfits, including socks, shoes and jewelry. "The night before, program your coffee-maker to start brewing 10 minutes before you're ready to drink it," says professional organizer Patricia John. Another way to save time is to set the table the night before for breakfast with bowls, spoons and glasses. You can even set our your family's favorite cereals.
Put all homework and permission slips into their backpacks and put all backpacks in a specific spot. John also recommends putting your own belongings, such as keys and cell phone, in the same place so you can easily pick them up on the way out the door. If you don't want to make lunches the night before, John suggests writing out a lunch menu for the entire week to make packing lunches go quicker.
Give your kids responsibility
Look at your schedule and see what tasks your kids can be responsible for completing independently. Tanya Peila, whose son is in kindergarten, got him an alarm clock so he could wake himself up in the morning. She puts all of his clothes for the day in one place and he gets dressed by himself.
Have each child be responsible for getting groomed and dressed. You can have older children pack their own lunches. Be sure to provide guidelines for what they should include or not include in their lunches. You can also assign your kids some of the chores that need to be done in the morning, such as feeding pets or turning off all the lights in the house.
Spend quality time together
Try to spend at least a few minutes with your kids in the morning. Reconnecting with each other will start your kids on their day feeling loved and important. On mornings when time is short, sit together while eating breakfast and instead of reading the paper, make a point of talking with your kids.
If you have a few extra minutes, play a short board game or read a chapter from a book together. You could also get up a little early on some mornings and take a quick walk with your kids. By starting the day enjoying each other's company, you will find yourself calmer and less stressed about the morning rush.
After a few weeks of your new routine, talk with the kids about what is working and what needs to be changed. Working together, you can get out of the house on time and start your day on a positive note.