There are many pain-points in a mum’s lyfe, but surely organising school mornings is one of the sorest. In most households (mine included) there is just so much going on. To help you contain the chaos, I’m sharing my 10 best hacks for keeping the kids moving. What works best at your place?
Hacks for the night before
1. Make a set bedtime
Having an age-appropriate bedtime for the kids means they get the sleep they need. They are more likely to actually wake up of their on accord in the morning, refreshed and ready for school. Generally, when they get a good night’s sleep, kids wake up happier and are easier to manage.
2. Set the breakfast table
We set the table for breakfast, including putting the cereal boxes out on the table, before we go to bed at night. My husband is usually the first to have breakfast and leave the milk on the table for the kids that follow. As the children wake at different times, this enables them to easily serve themselves. The older children will now cook themselves a hot breakfast most mornings.
3. Prepare the lunchboxes
I have the lunchboxes set out on the bench and will put in any items that are non-perishable the night before. For example, I put crackers or cut up fruit in containers in the fridge ready to go. I also use beeswax wraps to package up any homemade food, so in the morning it’s just a matter of the kids grabbing things to add to their lunchbox.
4. Prepare uniforms and other clothes
I don’t lay the clothes out for the children, but I do oversee the laundry to make sure uniforms are washed, put away and ready to go. It’s then the kids’ responsibility to have their clothes out before they go to bed at night. This works extremely well for younger children at preschool, as sometimes making decisions on what to wear can take up a huge amount of time! Better to do this in the evening when there is less time pressure and if items cannot be found there is time to locate them.
Hacks for the morning
5. Key time markers
We have key times across the morning at which certain activities need to occur. At (or before) 7.30am children need to brush their teeth, get themselves dressed, pack bags, etc. We aim to leave the house at 8.05am, so everyone should be completely ready by then.
Make sure everyone knows when your key times are and what needs to be done beforehand. It’s a good idea to call out ‘five more minutes’ and countdown the time, especially for younger kids.
Try this time organiser to keep the kids on track: The Pomodoro method
6. Clear the breakfast dishes
Each child is responsible for taking their breakfast dishes from the table to the kitchen bench for the youngest and for the older kids, they need to place their dishes in the dishwasher.
Having the kids stack the dishwasher means there is then one less thing that I have to do so I don’t feel as rushed. It also helps the kids understand that we all have to work together to keep the house tidy. This task and the next two require the children doing things for themselves. I find it is much easier for them to concentrate on these, if their are no distractions like TV or computer on.
The go anywhere breakfast bar is a great for mornings on the go.
7. Make beds and tidy bedrooms
Each child is responsible for making their bed and tidying their room. I don’t expect perfection from this, but that at the minimum the bed linen is straightened and items are removed from the floor.
8. Children pack their bags
It is the kids’ responsibility to ensure they have their lunchbox (the eldest two children now make their own lunches), hat, basically all the things that they need for their day at school. I find this a helpful task in early training to keep their possessions organised.
If they have left their hat at home, because they left it in the bedroom instead of putting it back in their bag, they will have to accept the consequences of this. (At our primary school, no hat means that they cannot play out in the sun during terms 1 and 4.)
9. Strategies to keep calm
This is probably the hardest thing to do in the morning, but even when the kids are infuriating me, I try to stay calm. If I try to calmly deal with situations as they arise (as opposed to ranting and raving at them!), there is much less chance of things escalating. After all, any blow ups make it even harder for us to leave the house on time. Some ideas to stay calm include:
• Reinforce the time regularly to keep everyone on track
• Take a moment or two out for yourself if you can – enjoy a cuppa or sit in the sun
• Take a deep breath and remind yourself that being late isn’t the worst thing in the world
10. Walk to school
This is not possible for everyone, but I find that walking to school is less stressful than packing all the children in the car, finding a park, getting them out, etc. It also provides a lovely opportunity to chat and play games as we walk along.
This morning we left the house with dishes on the table and unmade beds. I am hoping we will leave the house in a different state tomorrow!
What are your best tips for organising school mornings ?
Image: Samantha Gades