It’s coming, whether you like it or not. (Or maybe for you, it has already arrived.) An end to the lazy, crazy, carefree days of summer. Sure during the summer you had summer lessons and play dates, but getting kids up and ready for school (without yelling all morning long) is a whole different ballgame. Over the past three years, our family has utilized 3 important tips to begin the year well. I believe those 3 tips carried us through the year and gave us, for the most part, smooth morning routines.
1. Start your morning routine the week prior to school starting.
You may roll your eyes and think “really?! Get my kids up at 6:30 when they don’t HAVE to?!!” But hear me out. Kids do incredibly well with routine. Imagine going from waking up at 7:30 or later every morning to suddenly 6:30. No leisurely breakfast. Get moving son. No, you can’t sit around in your PJs and read comic books. WHY AREN’T YOU GETTING DRESSED?! Don’t you know we will be late??!!
I feel my own frustration rising just thinking about it! Ha!
Do your kids and yourself a favor by “practicing” your school morning routine before school even starts. If they’ll have to get up at 6:30am for school, you can stair-step by starting to get them up at 7, then the next day 6:50am, and work down to 6:30am. Or just go straight into 6:30am! You know your kids best. Post the “morning schedule” or chores, if that’s helpful to them. Just give them a heads up for what exactly is expected come next week… and the weeks to come.
Our morning routine doesn’t change (unless it has to) all.year.long.
Routine & responsibility
Go over exactly what they are responsible for grabbing each morning. Examples:
- My older two know that if they don’t grab their lunch, I won’t bring it to them later.
- Backpack (make sure homework/papers needed are inside)
- Water bottle
Those items are the minimum because sometimes there are projects, presentations or extra items. If additional gear is needed, make a note next to their hook/cubby the night before, or even set it out if you can. Whatever you can do the night before to make morning easier, DO IT.
So you’ve practiced your routine (yay!!) and it’s still summer. Once they complete all the morning tasks, let them read, draw, or even go someplace just for fun (bonus, you get to practice actually getting out the door). Go grab donuts, go to the library, or to the park.
You wont regret practicing your routine and working the kinks out before the big day comes!
2. Have a designated “drop zone.”
The drop zone is one of my favorite school year “hacks.” If the kids know where to put their backpacks, shoes, coats, hats, etc. after school everyday, there will be no hunting around for them the next morning. The backpack “lives” in the drop zone. If you need to get homework in or out, go to the backpack if at all possible.
Here is how our after school unloading goes: kids come home, place backpacks on their hook and shoes in their cubby, hang up coats, and take lunch boxes to the kitchen. Once everything is in place, homework can begin. Meanwhile, I can take folders/papers out as needed and pack lunches for the next day. If the kids come home and drop belongings wherever they please, you’ll be spending time later looking for everything.
The drop zone can also be a great place for a family command center (calendar, reminders, permission slips, chore charts, etc.). It doesn’t need to be fancy, just functional.
3. Early to bed, early to rise.
Did you know school age children require 9-12 hours of sleep? I won’t go into the benefits of appropriate amount of sleep—we all know it’s good for kids. Unless we have sports or church activities, during the school year, we try to get all of our kids in bed by 7:30 pm.
What time is best to wake the kids?
What time you need to have the kids at school? How long does it take to get there? Those two questions help determine a logical wake up time. Give yourself and your kids a little wiggle room. Having your kids get up 10 minutes earlier than necessary is better than being 5 minutes late. Even a well established routine can go downhill if someone spits toothpaste on their shirt, or you drop your coffee mug, or the dog refuses to go outside in the rain.
Giving yourself a little buffer will help alleviate stress.
Screen-free mornings & time cushion
In our home, our mornings are screen free. If tasks are finished before it’s time to leave, the kids are allowed to do a quiet activity or read. Having that extra cushion of time allows the kids (and myself) to not feel rushed. When we feel relaxed, it feels like we are a team. Let the kids sleep in on the weekends (when your schedule allows) and stick to a sleep schedule during the week for everyone’s sake.
Don’t forget about yourself, mama.
If it’s something your personality needs, fill yourself up in the morning before the kids wake up. Read, pray, exercise, drink coffee, journal, get yourself ready for the day… whatever feeds your soul before you #doallthethings. You are the “momager” and if you’re not feeling motivated, your kids will sense it. Of course, you’ll have mornings that just.aren’t.working. You’re running late or not feeling well or your husband is out of town. On those days, especially, be relentlessly kind to yourself so you can pass that kindness on to your family.
Do you have a morning routine set up? Will you test it out before school begins? If you do, let me know how it goes. If your kids are already back in school, how is your routine going so far?
Fist bumps to you, mamas, as we begin another school year! I’m cheering you on!