If you’re like most families, school mornings tend to be rushed and chaotic, especially with young children in the home. The start of the day can feel overwhelming and maybe even a little out of control. As parents, we cannot predict if the baby will have a diaper blowout or if a child’s lunch will take a sudden spill all over the floor. These moments seem to happen right as we are leaving the house, don’t they?
I’ve had my share of crazy school mornings that have left me longing for a stress-free routine. Over the years, I have learned tips to give me just that, and I want to share five practical tips you can use to develop a stress-free school morning routine for your family.
I recall one school morning in particular where it seemed everything was going smoothly. The clock read 7:28 a.m. I glanced at my four kids…two were reading books, and the other two were playing together on the floor. I quickly did a mental checklist:
Clothes and shoes on. Check.
Teeth brushed and hair combed. Check.
Lunches and snacks packed. Check.
I could hardly believe my eyes. Every child appeared ready to walk out the door, and we had two minutes to spare. Two minutes! I took advantage of the moment and ran to my bedroom to grab a few things. As I headed back to the living room, I announced, “We are ready to go. Everyone, head to the door.”
And that’s when my morning unraveled.
The living room was now empty. I called for them again. My youngest preschooler came strolling down the hallway casually from his bedroom. He managed to strip off his clothes and put on his Cars pajamas with sneakers still on his feet. Pajamas!
At the same time, my 5-year-old entered the room, cool and calm. Yet, her hair looked like a hot mess just moments after I finished braiding it.
From there, the bathroom door cracked open, and one of my kids announced that he would be in there for a while because nature called.
In a matter of minutes, everything changed. Just when I thought we had it all together, we no longer did. I was only out of the room for two minutes! Can you relate?
When the unexpected mishap occurs, we have to roll with it. Yet, there are many things within our control that we can do to make school mornings easier. A few simple tweaks to your routine could save you valuable time and give everyone a solid start to their day. You may even find yourself with a few extra minutes to allocate towards the unexpected (just don’t run back to your room like I did…haha).
Five Practical Tips for a Stress-Free School Morning Routine
Over the years, I have learned a few things from other moms who are crushing their morning routine. As a mom, I will take all the pointers I can get. Having learned from them, I have developed a stress-free routine that makes school mornings in my house run smoothly. Here are five practical tips that you can implement easily in order to experience smoother mornings for you and your family.
#5 – Put Clothes Out the Night Before
All four of my kids wear school uniforms, which may sound easier to figure out because the options are limited. However, I have to stay on top of my laundry game in order to make sure the right tops and bottoms are ready to go. Putting clothes out the night before ensures each child knows where their garments are and even allows them to get dressed quicker in the morning. For my family, this step also includes putting socks and shoes out as well. I can’t tell you how many times we have burned precious minutes searching for one missing sock or a pair of shoes, especially when it comes to my boys.
BONUS: With my older kids, I don’t have to monitor this step as closely any more. They have seen the value of getting items ready the night before, and they have become much more responsible as a result. Woo hoo!
#4 – Prepare Lunches and Bags the Night Before
Along the same line as the previous tip, we pack lunchboxes the night before. For non-perishables, all items are sealed and placed inside each lunchbox. Cold items are stored on the same shelf in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go in the morning. If you have a baby or toddler, you can also pack the diaper bag the night before by restocking essentials and preparing items based on what you’ll need for the next day.
Another huge time-saver is making sure your kids pack their school bags with all their books, folders, and homework before going to bed. That way, everyone can rest assured that the essentials are ready to go. Anything you can do the night before will give you a few extra minutes in the morning to tie shoes, braid hair, or handle any mishaps. When lunches and bags are prepared the night before, your school morning routine becomes much easier and definitely less stressful.
#3 – Create a Calm Atmosphere for Wake-Up
Creating the right atmosphere is easy when it comes to music, especially with songs that contain a positive message. When it’s time to wake our kids, we select a playlist they enjoy and adjust the volume just loud enough to be heard throughout the house. As music permeates the bedrooms, my kids emerge from a deep sleep before I even enter their rooms. This creates a less abrupt “wake up” when I approach them.
With the atmosphere being set, what you do next really matters. Keep in mind that getting up early is a difficult task for many people, including kids. Rather than shouting that it’s time to wake up, try waking your children with a soft unrushed tone and a gentle pat on their back. As a result, they are more likely to begin their day in a composed manner. And we all know that a calmer child translates into a smoother morning.
But what about the child who is not a morning person regardless of your approach. Check out the next suggestion.
#2 – Allow Your Slow-Moving Kids Ample Time to Get Ready
For my younger daughter, she practically jumps out of bed ready to embrace a new day. However, she is also one who moves to her own beat, which is a laid-back one. That’s her natural rhythm. As a result, she gets woken up first to allow her the few extra minutes that she needs. Every child is wired differently. Rather than getting frustrated with your children, adjust their wake-up time according to their needs.
If you have a child who is not an easy riser, start waking him up a few minutes earlier than the others. With my oldest son, he loves to sleep. He’s usually the first one in bed and the last one up. It’s always been that way with him. So for this child, I gently rub his back and begin the wake-up process 20 minutes before he has to actually be on his feet and moving. I check back often and get him stirring within those 20 minutes using suggestions from #3.
#1 – Start Your Day Before It’s Time to Start Theirs
Allow yourself time to prepare your heart and mind for the new day ahead. Be determined to get out of bed before the morning rush begins. I was never much of a morning person. Yet, I have quickly learned the value of getting up earlier. I am a better mom because of it. For me personally, I like to spend this time reading my Bible, journaling, and talking with God. Spending time in God’s presence is the most peaceful moment of my day. He renews my strength and prepares me for the day ahead. I can’t think of a better way to start my day, even when I’m tired. It’s not always easy to get up early, but it’s definitely worth it.
As a momma of four, I know how chaotic the morning rush can be. With a few simple tweaks to my routine, I have experienced a much better start to our school mornings. And you can too! Preparing the night before, creating a soothing atmosphere to wake your kids to, providing ample time for slow-movers to get going, AND allowing yourself a few unrushed quiet moments to prepare for your day will make all the difference. These five practical tips are easy to implement and will help you develop a stress-free school morning routine for your family. I hope this list contributes to a smoother start to your family’s day.
Help Your Child Gain Healthy Habits and Learn Responsibility with a Morning Checklist that Covers the Basics:
Do you have additional pointers that have worked well for your family? Share them below.
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