My last child started school two years ago, so now all three of them are in the same elementary school. Through the years, I’ve gained plenty of experience in getting them and myself out of the house on time. The morning routine really sets the tone for the whole day. If it doesn’t go smoothly, I go about my day irritated, annoyed, and let down. However, when it does, it makes my whole day feel better. I get to work relaxed, confident, and motivated.
Since this is such an important part of the day, I’ve compiled five tips on how to get mornings with kids to go smoothly. Please leave tips of your own in the comments below if you have anything else to add that could help out a fellow mom.
1. Try Your Best To Prepare in Advance.
I am usually so tired in the evening, but cleaning my kids’ water bottles, filling and refrigerating them before going to sleep saves me so much time in the morning. Organizing bookbags, preparing school uniforms, and signing permission slips are other tasks that can get done beforehand.
If your kids bring hot lunches in their lunch boxes, you can organize them in advance and refrigerate them overnight. It will save you a lot of time in the morning. My kids eat hot meals prepared by their school so their lunch boxes consist mainly of sandwiches, vegetables, and fruits for their morning snack. I like to prepare this fresh in the morning. If I leave them overnight in the fridge the sandwiches and fruit can get very soggy.
2. Wake Up Before Your Kids
Instead of waking up to chaos and noise and having to rush about as soon as you’ve gotten out of bed, you get to wake up to a quiet house. You have time to drink coffee/tea in peace and calmly get ready for the day ahead. As moms, having this time to ourselves qualifies as self-care and is essential for our well-being.
By the time our kids wake up, we have more patience to deal with all the pushback we might experience from them. We can be fully present and connect with our children without feeling pressured to get ourselves organized on time. We don’t get irritated because we hadn’t taken proper care of ourselves yet. We also don’t have to multitask with getting our children and us ready at the same time.
3. Create an Atmosphere
I always put my kids’ favorite music on before waking them up. The beat and rhythm add some fun and energy to the house and motivate us to get ready. There are mornings when the music is so uplifting that we happily dance all over the place while getting organized. It puts everyone in a good mood and helps everyone keep focused on their morning tasks.
4. Independant Playtime Before School
My kids love to have time to play in their rooms before going to school. On the one hand, playing independently in their bedrooms occupies them and gives me extra time for myself in the morning. On the other hand, if they’re in the middle of a game and it’s time to go, I am potentially setting them up for failure. All kids have difficulty with transitions and are naturally unwilling to stop a fun activity in order to get to school. I’ve discovered a few things that can help ease this transition:
- Letting him play only after they finish getting organized and eating breakfast. This rule motivates my kids to finish getting ready promptly so that they have more time to play. However, it’s important to be consistent so things go smoothly in the long run. If your kids start playing the moment they wake up, hold this boundary by reminding them that they can do that once they’ve finished getting ready for school, time permitting.
- Waking them up earlier so they have plenty of time to play.
- Preparing them in advance. Let them know before they go to bed at night how you expect your mornings to go and what their role is to ensure that. Remind them again when they wake up.
- Counting down. Count down the time left so your kids can learn to manage time. Also, advise them not to start lengthy and time consuming projects in the morning. I usually let them know when they have ten minutes left, then five minutes left, one minute left…you get the idea.
- No screen time in the morning. While playtime is ok in general, I’ve found that screens are much harder to get away from in the morning, which makes it harder on me.
- Before letting them play, put their shoes and jackets on, if weather permits. This way they are ready to get out of the house in an instant, once you’ve called them. It decreases the transition time.
Have a Special Snack Ready For the Commute to School
This works as a motivator for my kids to get out of the house and transition from playing to going to school. It gives them something to look forward to on days when they don’t really want to leave the house. My children usually eat a bowl of cheerios after waking up and then get a cookie or a muffin to eat while we walk to school. It nourishes them, keeps them in a better mood, and gives them something to look forward to.