Time always seems to be in short supply for busy parents, especially in the mornings. Getting kids ready for school can be a battle against the clock, but there are ways to make mornings more efficient and less stressful for kids. Try these seven tips to save some valuable time and make the morning routine with the kids more enjoyable.
Start the Night Before
There are actually quite a few tasks you can do the night before, when you’re less rushed and more relaxed, that will impact your mornings in a positive way. Think about the following activities you could be doing in the evenings to save time in your hectic mornings:
- Pick out the kids’ clothes. Kids can take as much time as they need the evening prior to make those all-important wardrobe decisions, and any unforeseen issues, like missing accessories or laundry needs, can be addressed with more time and less stress.
- Pack their backpacks with all the essentials, including homework, permission slips, snacks, etc. You might want to try hanging their packs on a hook in the hall for easy grabbing as they head out in the morning. No more searching for what they need with minutes to spare!
- Make breakfast—put out the oatmeal, make the pancake mix, set out the cereal bowls, etc. Many healthy breakfasts can be prepared a day ahead, and less kitchen prep and cleaning time will speed up your morning routine. Just find some quick and simple make-ahead recipes like these from Health.com, which features easy-to-make muffins and cereal bars.
- Prepare and pack lunches for the following day (or get the lunch money out). Like breakfast, lunch can be made the night before, saving a lot of preparation time in the morning. The trick is to make meals that will stay fresh and not get soggy. These make-ahead recipes from TheStir.com include some great ideas like tuna lettuce wraps. And good nutrition means good grades, so don’t forget to include chopped veggies and some fruit in the bag.
- Showers and baths at night can be relaxing before bed and allow for a quicker morning routine. This schedule could also leave time for more sleep in the morning, which will help with academics and attention-span during the day.
- Set up and program your coffee maker. Even if your coffee maker doesn’t have a programmable feature, you can still get the coffee measured and water added, which will get you that first, essential cup even sooner.
Pick Your Battles
Some kids are particularly strong-willed and can seem to turn every act and decision into an argument. Such discussions over what to wear, eat, or do next can waste time and lead to more stress. So if your child is insisting on varying your morning routine, stop and think about whether it is worth an argument. Kids need some degree of autonomy over their lives, and putting their foot down over something that should be simple is a part of that process. If your daughter wants to fix her hair before brushing her teeth or your son insists on eating something other than what you planned for breakfast, consider letting it go. Decide whether it’s a deal-breaker before pushing back, and it may be one battle you can avoid and time you can save.
Switch from TV to Music
The television can be a time-draining distraction for kids and parents. Try introducing a new rule that television, as well as phones, tablets, and social media, are not allowed until everyone is completely ready for school. This has the added benefit of motivating kids to get going sooner so they can get back to their devices. Then, as kids are going through their morning routines, play their favorite upbeat tunes. Music is a mood lifter, which can come in handy for those who are not “morning people.” And, catchy tunes will rev up the energy to get the kids moving faster than they normally would. Pick happy, motivational songs to set the mood for the day. Choose your kids’ favorite artists or find some fun tunes online, like these from 8tracks.com.
Empower a Child Leader
Why take on all the responsibility of getting the kids out the door when you can delegate and teach leadership skills in the process. If you have more than one child, designate each child as a leader for a given day, taking turns through the week. Then provide an outline of the tasks the leader is responsible for, such as picking the music or getting everyone to the breakfast table on time. It could even be a competition to find out which leader got everyone out the door in the quickest time.
Check the Kids’ Agenda for the Next Day
When your kids return from school or finish out the day’s routines, make a habit of checking with them on the plans for tomorrow. The afternoon of the day before will give you more time to prepare, rather than finding out at the last minute on the day of. Are there any big tests or projects due? Will they need to bring food for a party or snacks for a game? Even permission slips and report cards can be signed prior to the morning madness.
Chart Out the Morning
Sometimes, it’s not the steps in the process of getting ready that kids object to, it’s the feeling of being nagged. A printed chart can help reduce the need for constant prodding. List all the steps the kids need to take every morning, such as get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush teeth, and have them mark off each item as they finish. They’ll get a feeling of accomplishment and may begin to take more responsibility for their own tasks. You may even consider letting your older children face the consequences if they don’t have their list complete by departure time.
Set a Timer
Use your smartphone or a kitchen timer for particular tasks that seem to drag on for your kids in the morning. Set a reasonable time limit, and announce that the task must be complete when the timer goes off. Consider consequences, such as no treats in the lunch bag or no more time allowed for the task, even if the outfit isn’t complete. Using an hour glass could make this a fun activity for younger kids.
If you’re looking for ways to make your morning routines less stressful, you may want to consider online learning for your student, which eliminates commutes to and from school and offers more freedom in the child’s daily schedule. Visit K12.com to learn more and request a free information kit.