4:00 am I wake up, with a sweet little yawn and stretch. I always seem to be wide eyed and bushy tailed at that first alarm. I slip on my running gear and shoes then head out the door on my daily 1 hour run.
5:00 am I’m back home feeling refreshed and wonderful. I hop in the shower to wash off all the glittering sweat from my amazing run.
5:30 am I have finished getting myself put together. You know, the basics: curled my hair…mastered my makeup…posh outfit.
5:45 am I slip on my apron, get the coffee started, begin cracking eggs and whipping up some Belgian waffles for my family (they’ll be sitting at the table soon, hungry and ready to eat!)
6:15 am I wake up my two boys and husband. They are all sweet smiles and kisses. Ready to face the day!
6:30 am Everyone is dressed, teeth brushed and shoes on, backpacks ready to go. The boys really are so great at getting themselves together. I already packed lunches for the day and have them waiting on the counter. We are ready to sit down to eat a hearty breakfast as a family.
[BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!…]
7:00 am CRUD! [beep! beep! beep!] my alarm is going off a second time! I have overslept! What a nice dream though…
For all parents, taking your kids to school for the first time brings on a wide range of emotions. We can’t believe how big they are?! Are they really going to school?! We are so proud that they are ready! We feel so sad they will be away from us all day and not dependent on us anymore.
As unprepared as our emotions sometimes are in the first years of school. Our routines are also upended in the process. I’m just going to put it out there…the mornings of my oldest sons first year of school were
torture rough. Over the years I have learned some helpful tips that have made our mornings a smooth process with no fuss. I want to share these tips with any other new parents who might need them to make school mornings simple.
Make School Mornings Simple
1. Time at Night > Time in Morning
Simple mathematics. You have more time the night before school than you do the morning of school to get prepared. I don’t know why, but for some reason I was making coffee, lunches, gathering stuff together, and picking out my son’s clothes in the morning in the dark years. Do everything you possibly can the night before school.
Here are some examples of what I do every school night:
- Make the coffee and set the timer for 6:15 am. If I wasn’t the one who prepared it the night before, I might actually think my coffee pot loved me. Having coffee waiting when I wake up is a true act of love.
- Set out mug and spoon. Seriously, save yourself every second you can. Your going to do it anyway, and no one will see it cluttering your counter in the middle of the night.
- School forms and completed homework checked and in backpack sitting by door.
- I pick out my clothes and lay out for the next morning. I don’t do super early morning decisions.
- My kids pick out their clothes and lay out for the next morning. More on this below.
- Check the weather for the next day. Set out any necessary items. per the weather report, by the door. Rain boots, umbrella, heavy jacket, etc. Better to not be surprised when you open the door in the morning and have to rush and reevaluate what you chose to wear. *I also use this moment to teach my boys how to dress appropriately per the conditions.
If you have extra activities the next day, or musical equipment, etc. Take those things into factor and get those items prepared as well.
2. The Great Clothing War
Boys…girls…it doesn’t matter. At some point in the wee hours of sunlight, when you are just trying to get your kid moving, you will hear the words “but I don’t WANT to wear that!”. Children make decisions everyday. Let them pick out what they will wear to school each night. Sometimes it may not match, and really, that is okay. Sometimes I let it go — *breaks into Frozen theme song ballad*… Let it go, LET IT GO..— cough… sorry. Other nights, I take that moment to teach proper dressing attire. “No, son. You cannot wear your suit jacket with your cargo shorts.”. This is really a good moment to make a task into a chore, be sure to check out my DIY Chore Chart too.
3. Lunch Prep
A two part step.
Our school posts a monthly cafeteria schedule. At the beginning of each month, I print out the cafeteria schedule and we go over it. I mark the days he will eat in the cafeteria, and the days we need to pack a lunch.
Here are some reasons why this is SUPER helpful:
- I know exactly how much money we will spend on school lunches that month, and can include it in the budget.
- I shop ahead for the lunchbox items we will need and am never left scrambling to put together a lunch box.
- Make school mornings simple and better night preparation.
- I write this out on a calendar and my son always knows what he will be eating that day. *At elementary age, surprises in routine are difficult to process. Keep it simple, and always keep them in the loop*
If a school day requires a lunchbox, do everything you can to prep it the night before.
Generally, I pack anything that isn’t cold the night before and set it on the counter. Food, utensils, napkin, and lunchbox note goes in. Then I can throw in cold stuff and go in the morning.
Some mornings we have time to sit down and eat a quick meal. Some mornings we don’t. I made this breakfast-to-go station and put it low in our pantry. If need be, the boys can grab cereal and make themselves breakfast. Or a granola bar and fruit for on the go. Actually, the whole family uses this station and I keep it stocked regularly.
I bought the container at our dollar store and used dry erase labels. Super easy to change with a dry erase marker to what we have on hand.
5. Choose Your Battles
Not everything is worth arguing over… especially not so early. Choose your battles wisely.
I discovered the first year of grade school that my son likes to wear a sweater — all. the. time. Even if it was 85 degrees out in the morning he would ask to wear a sweater to school. Of course, he would get hot mid-day and take off the sweater. Then he would forget it at school. I got really tired of recovering (nagging him to recover) lost sweaters. After discussing it, turns out he really just wanted something to cuddle in, during the car ride to school, early in the morning. *well, we are blanket people*. Okay…I can work with that. I chose my battle: no more sweaters to school, unless it was weather appropriate. However, as part of my night preparations I set out our designated “car blanket” that we use each morning. Everyone is happy.
I did not expect that random battle to commence, and I’m sure there are some other random battles others have experienced. Somethings just aren’t worth making a morning so stressful and unpleasant before your child leaves you for 7 hours.
6. Routine vs. Rushed
Getting in a routine is the best thing you can do to make school mornings simple. The day will flow better and you will open up more time in your morning when you get in habits. Getting an alarm clock for their room and not being dependent solely on you to wake them up is another great habit for children to establish. With a routine your children will go to school not feeling flustered, and be ready to learn.