Before the bell rings

Short stuff: Education

We all know that crazy mornings make for crazy days. Being on time is a key habit to nurture in your children. This school year, start off fresh with a new routine for weekday mornings.

• Two weeks before the first day of school, begin adjusting your child’s bedtime and wakeup schedule to that of school days.

• Pack lunches the night before or keep pre-sealed envelopes containing exact amounts for lunch/milk money ready in an easy access drawer.

• Resist the temptation to press the snooze button again. And again. Place the alarm clock away from the bed, on a shelf, so it’s necessary to stretch up to reach the off button.

• Before bedtime, have your child select her outfit for the next day. If you have a picky fashionista on your hands, set a timer for 15 minutes. If the buzzer rings before the outfit is selected, mom/dad gets to finish the job.

• Backpacks should be filled with completed homework, milk/lunch money, library books to be returned—and should be zipped up and hanging on the doorknob the night before school.

• Embrace media-free mornings. Or reward children who are dressed and ready to go with 10 minutes of cartoons—time permitting.

• Even small children can be taught to make themselves a healthy breakfast while you prepare for your day or help take care of the littlest ones. Keep tried and true favorites (yogurt, fresh fruit, bread and jam) in an easy-to-reach spot. Remember that kids love non-traditional breakfast items; cheese and crackers, leftovers from last night’s dinner or a peanut butter and banana sandwich are easy to prepare in a jiff.

• Set all your household clocks five minutes earlier (and don’t let anyone else in on it).

• Bathe kids the night before school. Save time and the environment by getting older kids into the habit of taking a quick five-minute shower. Check out for waterproof shower timers.

• Moms and dads, don’t forget yourselves. Allow time to ease peacefully into your day by waking up a half hour before the kids. Meditate on the day ahead or cuddle up with a cup of Joe and the daily newspaper.

• Reward yourselves. For each and every day you and your children are all on time, place a sticker on a chart. Five stickers equals a special family treat: ice cream cones and a trip to the park on Saturday afternoon, a Friday night movie with buttery popcorn, etc.

Remember: It’s all about fostering good habits early, so you won’t have to deal with dragging a late-sleeping, 150-pound 17-year-old out of bed come high school. Focus on how great it feels to be on time and ready to learn.

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