Mastering school mornings is surprisingly easy. Here are some tips to help you nail it.
Breakfast, made easy
A container with a scoop for cereal and milk in a jug is the best start. My girls pour their own milk from the carton if it’s half full or less, and one of my kids is only three. If there is more milk in the carton than that, they wait for me to pour it for them to prevent mishaps.
We’re not yet up to toast but some of you will be. As long as your children can access what they need and know what they can have, it can work.
What do I do while my girls serve themselves breakfast? Sometimes I shower and get myself ready, but often I’m making my coffee and preparing lunches.
A visual routine is key
If children have something reminding them what they need to do, they tend to do it without too much fuss. A visual reminder is constant and often less stressful for children than a nagging mum or dad.
You’d think that when your children do something every single day for years on end they’d remember what they need to do. Unfortunately children don’t find most everyday tasks stimulating enough to remember to do them. However, they can and will remember to check their chart to see what they need to do. Especially if it’s colourful, easy to follow, and gives them a reason to interact with it.
This is why routine and chore type tasks always work better with some sort of prompt that isn’t the voice of mum and dad.
A child that strives for control over something thrives when you give them the freedom to manage their own preparations. The only thing you need to do is make sure they have the tools to do it well, and that’s where visual routines help them shine and give them the control they desire. It also helps you by taking less off your plate.
Kids managing school stuff
Your children are more than capable of managing their own school items than you may think. They can pack their own bag, access their uniforms, and ensure they’re ready to start the day. All they need is a really good and well organised space to keep everything, and some tools to help them remember what to do.
We use a school bag station. There are boxes for uniforms, shoes, a shelf for lunch bags, drink bottles and take home folders, and folders for artwork they bring home. They’re able to get ready for school in this one spot because everything is there ready for them.
Plan ahead for lunches
Work out what you need for lunches before the week even starts. This means you can portion and prepare in advance… saving you time in the mornings and money!
The freezer is your best friend when it comes to school lunches. You can work out how much your children need spanning a week and put them in freezer bags or containers ready to whip out and keep in the fridge on Sunday night.
Each bag or container is labelled with the week number and school lunches become super easy every morning. We do this with mini quiches, mini pancakes, mini muffins, banana bread slices, sandwiches, scrolls, fruit and more. There are seriously so many possibilities!
Only a few basic rules
This is important!
No one likes nagging, and kids HATE nagging. It makes your voice less noticeable when you do need their attention. When you give kids the chance to do ‘grown up things’ they do actually try to do the right thing, because getting to be grown up is pretty exciting. They most likely won’t need a thousand rules to stay on track and behave.
Having said that, there will be times where they will test you and try something on. You deal with those situations as they come, don’t bombard them with rules to prevent them from getting off track. Hovering also deters kids from displaying independence and from wanting to do things well – they really do want you to trust them to be awesome.
We have one ‘spoken’ rule about breakfast and that’s to do with the level of milk in the carton. Above a certain amount and my youngest is unable to pour it herself without assistance – she knows this. I’ve never told my girls what they can or can’t serve themselves for breakfast… just showing them and telling them what they can have is enough.
After school matters too
What happens after school with all of your children’s school stuff is integral to how well they get ready in the morning.
“I can’t find my shoes” “where is my drink bottle” “I don’t have my take home folder”
These are common phrases that I’ve heard in the morning, and it drove me mad!
When your children come home, their first job is to get their bag and unpack it, putting everything away. Next it’s dealing with shoes (and sand in shoes, pet hate!), socks and uniform.
Make sure they know the process to manage everything and make sure everything has a home – this is where a school bag station shines!
My children simply refer to their school bag check list to pack away in the afternoon, but a ‘pack away’ chart might be a better prompt for some children.
Dirty school clothes
What happens with your children’s dirty school clothes?
There have been times where my daughter’s jumper disappeared for days on end and then we end up finding it under the drivers seat in the car, covered in bits and pieces from the last time she wore it.
You also have the “I have nothing to wear” or “I can’t find my clothes” 10 minutes before you have to leave for school and you’re left running around looking for a semi clean uniform.
My girls inspect their clothes for filth when they get home, and they give it a smell test. I often help because the favourite school dresses can be mistaken for being perfectly clean when they’re not in any way, shape or form.
Dirty clothes go straight in the dirty school clothes basket (or washing machine if you’re close to washing a load).
Why not a generic dirty clothes basket with all the rest? Because sifting through trying to find uniforms so you can clothe your children for the following day is not something you want to be doing! Having a separate basket for school clothes means you can easily manage that washing, even if the rest of the washing is slipping out of your grasp.
When the washing has dried, they go back in their school bag boxes. Simples!
Drawings, art and notes
Finally, how to manage the notes, drawings and ‘art’. We used to put them in our school bag boxes… that didn’t work, lol. Since then we’ve adopted the document folders with the press stud and have progressed to magazine files. These aren’t all that expensive and all the drawings and art can be filed inside.
Notes really need to be put in a prominent place so you can read/deal with it when you get the chance. Avoid ending up with a pile of ‘stuff’ or notes will be easily lost.
We came up with an awesome idea for the special artwork, cards and certificates.
This was a rather inexpensive and simple solution, and it allows us to display all the special things in a neat and organised way. This half wall in our dining room was begging to be used for something special. We used a cheap curtain rail from Kmart along with some curtain rings with clips from Ikea.
These are just a few tips that can help make your mornings so much easier. It’s not rocket science, but it will make a really big difference for you and your kids.
We’re not perfect, I’m not a super mum. I have trouble managing mornings too but each of these things has helped make our mornings far less chaotic, and my girls are happier as a result. They also find it less stressful to head to school, and so does their mum 🙂
A teacher gives children the tools to do things for themselves and it helps them thrive. Parents can do this too, and your whole family will benefit from it.