With the school year in full swing, I think most parents can agree that the school morning routine can be rough. It can be maddening at times, but it doesn’t have to be if we strive to stay ahead of the game and simplify things.
Here are 7 simple ways to make the back-to-school mornings a bit smoother:
1. Keep a LARGE family calendar in a visible place in your home.
This has helped our family so much in recent years. Assign each person of the family a specific marker color and fill in their appointments/games/etc. in their assigned color. That way, it’s easier to keep track of who has what on certain days of the week.
This summer, I purchased the calendar in the picture from Target in the “Dollar Spot” section. It is laminated, so it can be erased and reused for each month. If you don’t want to do something like this, you can even arrange post-it notes into a calendar with one post-it for each day of the month. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Be creative and find a family calendar process that works for you. You’ll be glad you did!
2. Create a “school corner” where your kids can keep their backpacks, shoes, and clothes for each school day.
I have seen this done many different ways, and you can find a variety of these on Pinterest. Use strong hooks to hang each backpack on the wall or door, and use little tables or bins with drawers for each child to lay out and organize their shoes and clothes for each school day. This simple tip has saved our family lots of time and anguish—yes, it can get that dramatic—in the morning rush.
3. Purchase or prepare lunch items that can be packed quickly.
Things like Lunchables, Smuckers Uncrustables, and Lunchmakers are favorites at our house. But, they can get expensive. If you want to save some money and do it yourself, just make up enough PB&J (or even meet and cheese) sandwiches for one week, place them into individual sandwich freezer bags, and pop them in the freezer. Then, add them to each lunch box as needed. You can also do this with lots of fruits and toss them in as needed. Plus, the frozen items will stay fresher longer as the school day goes on.
4. Have your family work together to prepare the backpacks, lunches, and anything else the night before when possible.
This has been a huge change for us in the last few years. We used to be so exhausted after putting the kids to bed that preparing for the next school day just seemed like too much for that night. But, then our mornings would be insane, and all of us would feel frustrated with one another. So, we decided that we needed to start doing as much as possible at NIGHT to make the mornings better. And, we have our boys help too. It’s good for kids to think through what they need for the next day, and the preparation goes much faster with more people helping.
5. Use charts to remind kids of what they need to do each morning.
Charts are awesome when it comes to keeping kids on task and making sure everything gets accomplished—like brushing teeth, showering, chores, etc. This can be done in a wide variety of ways, but one way that has worked for us is posting as erasable chart for each child on the door right underneath our family calendar. Each morning, the kids go through their chart and check off each task once it is completed. This can even work for toddlers who can’t read yet; just use pictures, instead of words, to show the task. You can even make it a game and have the kids see who can be the first to complete their chart successfully.I love the charts, because I find that I don’t have to remind (or end up nagging) the boys so much. I just say, “Look at your chart, Sweetie,” which is both practical and much more pleasant for everyone.
6. Set a timer that goes off around ten minutes before they need to be at the bus stop.
If they work at it, kids can do most tasks in ten minutes. So, if they are really lagging that morning, the sound of the timer going off will remind them to get in gear and get to the bus stop quickly. For older kids, have them set their own timers on their cell phone to keep them on schedule. Whether you use an old-fashion kitchen timer, watch, phone, or microwave timer, repeated use of the timers will help your family to stay on schedule and get to the bus or car—and ultimately school—on time.
7. Send the kids off to school with a prayer and a hug. Even when we have the best intentions, things can fall apart quickly in the chaos of crazy school mornings.
We may be sharper with our kids than we intended, or the kids might be super moody. Whatever happens, it’s important that we take a deep breath, bring our kids in close, and say a prayer for each of them. It’s amazing how this one simple step can turn the whole morning around. Pray that God will help your child to make good decisions and do well in school that day. Ask God to open his eyes to what He wants him to see and learn that day. Seek God’s forgiveness for causing any hurt feelings to one another this morning. Ask God to protect your child and give him a great day. After this simple prayer, you both will feel ready to conquer the day, and you will surely send your kiddo off to school with a hope-filled spirit and the assurance that he is loved.