For most of us, summer is a little different than the school year. It’s summer camp instead of school and this rhythm is very different from that of the school days. Whether you’re a working mom or a staying at home mom (or maybe working from home), getting back into the groove after school can be difficult. Want some ideas on how to reset the morning routine when the kids go back to school?
Change the way you think
Think about why you want to make changes. Is there a new morning routine in your household because you are a new mom or maybe your kids are starting kindergarten? Maybe last year of school (before the pandemic) you had a little too much at the last minute when you tried to get out the door yelling “We should have left 10 minutes ago” and that doesn’t have that for anyone Day started right. Chances are you have a second child now who could make your back to school morning routine more complex. Whatever the reason, think about why you want to make changes. This can help you figure out which changes make sense and which should be discarded. You are deliberately creating your morning routine for the school year.
Use this time to reset your expectations of how the morning will go. This is a great time to learn new habits and break bad ones. And we’re talking about your and your children.
Be gradual with changes
If you are weeks or even days away from your first day of school, start adjusting to your sleep schedule you have throughout the year. Also, wake the children up earlier. Make this adjustment in 15-minute increments every few days if you have time. If not, make the 15-minute adjustments each day until you are back to normal. And if you don’t have time for that either, try to wake the kids up early and just put them to bed for a few days early. However, be careful not to let her sleep. Prepare for some rough mornings and see what you can do at the start of the school year. Don’t stress yourself if there is no time for gradual change. Back to school creeps in on all of us. Summer goes by and it’s time to go back to school overnight.
You don’t have to make all changes immediately. Try a few different options, especially when developing a new routine. Consider some simple breakfast options like a parfait with granola or make a bunch of your favorite muffins this weekend so you can freeze them. Grab them on a morning when things don’t quite go according to plan and you need to have breakfast on the go. Take your time trying to make your move and don’t stress yourself if it doesn’t work out the way you originally intended. It may take a little longer or you may need to adjust.
Most people talk about getting organized in the spring. School is also a good time for this. If you can keep things in their place every day, it will take less time to find them. It also helps your children get organized. They know where their homework is every day and where their shoes are. You don’t waste valuable time in the morning looking for your keys, etc.
Use the night before
Using it the night before can make a huge difference in your morning. Let the children choose clothes the night before and give your contribution when you need it. That one change can save you time and tears in the morning.
You can also choose your own outfit the evening before, if you need / want it. This is especially helpful when you need to be somewhere in the morning. Moving because you don’t like the way it goes together or how it looks can take up precious time in the morning.
Make sure the children have their backpacks ready, including any homework. Label long-life snacks and put them in the backpacks before going to bed. You can empower children to do this, and as a bonus, they will practice writing. Put the backpacks in a consistent place, like the door or where they normally go (ours hang on the hooks provided for each child in the mudroom).
If you are still preparing lunch, consider if there is something you can do to prepare for lunch. Wash the fruits. Put lunch boxes on the counter, ready for the next step. Think about what other steps you can take to help you move forward faster in the morning. Consider putting clean containers in the lunch boxes so they are ready for whatever is in them in the morning. If for some reason you need to stop preparing for lunch, you may be able to seek help from your significant other or children when everything is ready for the next step.
Set your alarm clock to start your day at a constant time whenever possible. Find out how things flow together to get the most out of your time. For example, do you get up early to get dressed, or do you get everything ready while everyone is sleeping and get dressed while everyone else is getting dressed? Can you get your children to dress and brush their teeth before they even get to the breakfast table so you know the step is done and they won’t return to their rooms? (If I keep my kids out of their rooms when they get up, it seems like things get on better in the morning.)
Do you have a formula for what to put in your child’s lunch box? In our household, for example, lunch consists of a sandwich, three to four fruits and a treat. Knowing this makes the decisions you need to make more consistent. It’s not about what you make for lunch, but what fruits and what type of sandwich. Kids can even help create this formula and options so that they will like whatever you choose from a list.
The idea is that things always flow in the same way so that everyone gets into a rhythm, including the children. See what works and make changes if necessary.
Get out the door
When it comes to getting out the door, it helps to have a plan. My suggestion is to use two timers. One is the warning and one is the time to leave the house. Make sure your kids know what each timer means.
Consider having your children count the number of items they should know when they have everything. This was a recommendation from a preschool teacher years ago and it worked amazingly. It empowers your children and helps teach accountability and responsibility. Plus, it makes sure you have everything you need. In case you’re wondering, we started when our boys turned 4.
Moment for mom
As you work on your morning routine, try to schedule a moment for yourself. It could be something small, like doing a self-help check-in (see how you feel and make adjustments based on that) or journaling for a few minutes. You could meditate for a few minutes or more if it suits you. Are you trying to focus more time and energy on wellness? See if you can add a workout or take the time to prepare a healthy lunch for yourself.
Think about what would make your morning better and figure out how to get even a few minutes or an hour of it in the mix. Remember, this is about starting the day right for you and your family.
Hopefully these tips will help reduce stress and start the day with more smiles for everyone! What is your morning routine like? Do you have any tips or steps that might help other mothers get their back-to-school morning routine on track?
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant and work-life balance consultant, strategist, author, mother of 2 active boys and the wife of a supportive husband. It empowers working mothers to create the balance they crave with small changes that can have a big impact over time. Her latest book, The Mompowerment Guide to Work-Life Balance: Insights from Working Moms on Balance Between Work and Family, will be published at the end of September. When trying to make changes to achieve a better work-life balance, including setting up your morning routine, start with your why and how you want it to be. Download the free Mompowerment Know Your Why Guide to discover them: www.mompowerment.com/motivation.