School mornings can be a stressful time for all the family. The alarm goes off, and the kids refuse to get up. They can’t find their book bags. You’ve burnt the toast and spilled coffee down the only clean work shirt you have.
Does it have to be this way? Are their homes where everything runs like clockwork in the mornings?
A home where children and parents always start their day peacefully and positively may be an unrealistic idyll, but if your mornings have you tearing your hair out, a few simple actions could make them less stressful. Check out our top tips, and you’ll be on your way to stress-free school mornings.
There’s little time to get everything ready on school mornings. From making the kids breakfast to helping them pack their school bags and getting yourself dressed for work, there’s a lot to cram in.
A simple way to make school mornings less stressful is to reduce the number of tasks you have to do.
Pack school bags, make lunches, set out your work clothes and lay out the kids’ uniforms
or schoolwear the night before. It may seem like an effort on a Sunday night, but it will make Monday morning run much more smoothly.
Once you’re in the habit of doing this, it will become part of the routine, and you won’t think twice about doing it.
Allow Yourself Plenty of Time
You may want to hide under the covers when that 6 am alarm goes off, but getting up even 10-minutes before you really “need” to, can make it easier for you to fit everything in and leave the house on time without your stress-levels sky-rocketing.
It’s a good idea to get up a little before the kids. This gives you time to get yourself showered and dressed without having to juggle ten different tasks at once.
I know some moms who deliberately set the alarm a half-hour early so they can have 5-minutes sitting in peace and quiet with a coffee before the rest of the family wakes up and the day starts!
Aim to leave the house 5-10 minutes “early.”It only takes one wrong turn or a heavy traffic day for “on-time” to turn into “late” — a sure-fire way to make the whole family stressed. Worst case scenario — you’re early to school or work and have a few minutes of “you-time” in the car.
Set a Good Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine is important for children of all ages, and adults too! We all need time to wind down from a busy day, “switch off,” relax and get plenty of sleep before the next day begins. Exactly how mich sleep a person needs
depends on their age and various other factors. Newborns need 14-17 hours a day whereas middle-aged adults can comfortably exist on 7-9 hours. Parents often set strict bedtime routines for toddlers then become more relaxed as children get older.
To help achieve less stressful mornings, it’s important the whole family is well-rested when the day begins. Try to stick to a fixed bedtime on school nights and make sure the hour before lights out is calm — no screen time or running around the house. Allow yourselves some kid-free time each evening to relax. The calmer the evenings in your home, the more relaxed the mornings are likely to be.
Create Fun Routines and Quit Shouting!
Do you find yourself repeating the same command over and over at increasing volumes and degrees of frustration? “Put your shoes on!!” “Eat your cereal” This is rarely effective and is sure to make everyone stressed and unhappy. Take a step back and consider what you want to achieve and how you can encourage your children to want to help you achieve it.
Some children respond well to a visual timetable that shows them the tasks they need to perform each morning in step-by-step tasks. Perhaps you could move tasks to a “completed” section of the timetable, and reward your child for every checked off task?
Or, you could use fun sounds as timers. Allow kids a certain amount of time to complete a task, start the timer, and tell them they have to finish when the alarm goes off. You can use music in a similar way. Let the kids choose a favorite song or two and use these as “timers.” When the music starts, they must get up and start putting on their school uniforms. When the music stops, they need to be dressed to receive a reward. Putting marbles in a jar throughout the week to earn a weekend reward can also be a great way to motivate your kids to help you out on school mornings.
There are lots of fun ways to encourage your children to do what you need them to do. It may seem like hard work initially, but it will soon become part of the routine — making mornings enjoyable for everyone.
Manage the Bad Mornings with Positivity
No matter how hard you work to put routines in place, plan, and make school mornings run smoothly, there will always be those mornings. You know, the ones where everything goes wrong. This may be because someone in the family is feeling sick, the washing machine has flooded the kitchen, or things just seem to fall apart for no apparent reason.
Disasters like these don’t have to mean you’re back to square one. If things do go pear-shaped, take time out — for you and the kids. So what if you’re a few minutes late for once (although if you’ve allowed yourself extra time, you won’t be)? Sometimes a few minutes to calm down is enough for stress-levels to drop and to help you to come up with a Plan B. Then hug your kids, leave the chaotic morning behind you and move on with your day. There’s always tomorrow to have a perfect, stress-free school morning!