It’s back to school time in our neck of the woods and I’ve gathered 8 tips to help eliminate the stress that seems to happen on school mornings! I’m a bus driver and being late isn’t an option! My kids have to be on time, so we can make it on time to our first pick up. To make the mornings go smoother when you go back to school you can do a lot of the prep work the night before! 8 pm is when our kids get ready to go bed. When the clock hits 8, we stop what we are doing, have family prayer then dedicate the next 30 minutes to preparing for the upcoming school day.
1. Check the schedule
We take a look at the school schedule and see who has PE the next day, if someone has a field trip that requires hiking shoes, if it is wear a purple shirt day, show and tell day, pajama day, or picture day. Then I check the weather and tell them which type of clothes would be most appropriate. Knowing the schedule for the next day can really eliminate stress because you have at least 12 hours to wash, find, or sew the needed article of clothing for the next day!
2. Set it all out
After we discuss the schedule for each child, they choose an outfit and a pair of shoes that match. This eliminates the “I am wearing a dress but can only find my tennis shoes” problem or the “the sole fell off my shoe yesterday and I forgot to tell you” problem that tends to happen in the morning at my house. The shoes go in the mud room by their backpacks and the outfit goes in the bathroom for easy access after they brush their teeth the next morning. My kids that have glasses also need to make sure they have a pair of glasses next to their clothes.
3. Prep the lunches the night before
Once they are through setting out clothes and shoes they come to the kitchen where they decide if they are going to have hot lunch or cold lunch. For cost reasons they get to choose 1 hot lunch a week. The rest of the week is cold. If they opt for cold lunch the next day they choose their 2 sides (celery, mandarin oranges, crackers, berries, broccoli, pretzels, cucumbers, carrots, etc.) They fill up their 2 “side” containers and set out a sandwich Tupperware so I can make them one in the morning. If their “sides” aren’t refrigerated, they place them in their lunch box on the counter. The next morning I make their main dish while they eat breakfast.
4. Over night breakfast
If we are doing a make ahead breakfast like overnight french toast or overnight oatmeal then they each get to help make their portion choosing the flavors and ingredients they want! Here are 25 back to school breakfast ideas that could be made on a weekend or the night before!
5. Backpacks ready and by door
Once they are through setting out clothes, shoes, making lunches and breakfasts, and gone over the schedule for the next day they get 5 minutes to have a bed time snack. Then it’s off to brush/floss teeth and pack up their backpacks. All folders, text books, work books, any papers that needed signing are in their backpacks and their backpacks are on their hook by the door. We leave them unzipped because each night they get to read in bed and usually they have a school library book. The library book is the only thing that they don’t have in their backpack when they head to bed.
If they accomplish all of their tasks by 8:30 and are in their beds they get to read for 30 minutes. If one of them isn’t completely ready for school and in bed by 8:30 then as soon as they get there, it is lights out for everyone. It only takes once for one kid to not be ready before they realize they affected their sister’s chance to read that night. It doesn’t happen very often for that reason!
Before your first day of school starts, make sure they are on board with the evening routine and ask them to help you set up a morning routine. Decide what time each child needs to wake up, what order all things will be done, etc. We always start the morning with bring your library book to your backpack, zip it, come read scriptures with the family, have family prayer, kids get to rest in living room while Mom makes breakfast. Then it’s eat, brush teeth, get dressed, do hair, double check you’re ready to go, then it’s free time!
7. Set time frames
In your routine set up time frames for each task. It really shouldn’t take 18 minutes for my 9 year old to eat her breakfast, but if she doesn’t have a time frame in place it does take her 18 long minutes which puts us behind and causes stress! Before you go back to school make sure you let your kids help decide a time frame. 3 minutes from bed to zipping up backpack to couch for scripture reading and prayer. Prayer and scriptures takes 10 minutes. 5 minutes rest time while Mom assembles breakfast. 10 minutes to eat breakfast. 4 minutes to brush/floss and get dressed. 5 minutes to do hair, which means by :6:15 am you should be ready to walk out the door for us to start our bus route! We have a digital clock in many room so even my youngest school age child can follow the time frame routine!
8. Take a breath
The first thing I do when it gets stressful is start to get upset about how we are going to be late because ___________. It could have been avoided if ___________. That doesn’t start anyone’s day off on the right foot. Remind yourself that they are just little and some days there is going to be stress. When the baby hauls off your 3rd grader’s set out shoes and you can’t find it or another matching pair for the LIFE of you, try not to yell. When your kindergartner suddenly realized they switched their show and tell day with their classmate since she was going to be gone and you have 22 seconds to find something amazing, try not to yell. When you’re 5th grader realizes that she promised her BFF that they would have hot lunch together today and forgot last night and packed one already, try not to yell. I am mostly talking to myself here….but maybe someone out there needs it too.
Let’s take this upcoming back to school time in stride and do our best to prepare the night before to eliminate the stress out of these school mornings! Let’s do this!