Even after “sleeping through the night” is fully accomplished, the routines and scheduling never stop. And even if a routine wasn’t much of a concern with your baby, you’ll find that it soon becomes a non-negotiable survival mechanism with toddlers and school-age kids. Now there are lunches to pack, school buses to catch and lost shoes to find. In fact, having a consistent routine can be the difference between a hectic- and a smooth-running morning. Here are some morning rush hour tips:
- If you have somewhere to be in the morning (which, believe it or not, can start even in daycare), then you’ll soon understand the importance of organization. Take some time this weekend to find places for your likely-to-be-lost items, like keys, shoes, backpacks and important papers (like school permission slips, sports schedules and lunch menus.)
- The single most important thing you can do is prepare the night before. We know that dinner, dishes, baths and bedtime can be exhausting enough after a long day, but taking an extra 30 minutes to prepare for the next morning can make an enormous difference.
- Make all lunches the night before.
- Lay out everything your child will be wearing, down to his or her shoes.
- If you often have last-minute morning stains or teary complaints (“But this sweater is itchy!”), you might as well have a second clothing option in mind.
- Pack all backpacks, which means tracking down homework, pens, notebooks and calculators.
- Check all school calendars and notices for important projects and activities that you might need to prepare for, like when you need to pack gym clothes, seasonally appropriate gear or permission slips.
- If your children are old enough, encourage them to help make lunches, gather their school belongings and pick out their clothes in order to develop responsibility.
- If you have both toddlers and older kids, it’s a good idea to have your toddler wake up first so that you have enough time to change, feed and dress him or her before the older kids will need your attention. Or, for kids closer in age, first wake up whoever is hardest to get moving in the morning.
- Leave chores for after school, such as taking out the trash, putting away dishes or cleaning up their rooms. There’s only so much time in the morning, so cramming too much in is like asking for the kids to miss the bus.
- Breakfast is an important meal, especially for school-age kids heading off for tests and long lesson plans. Save the homemade pancakes and eggs for the weekend and instead rely on cereal, frozen waffles or premade breakfasts from the night before.
- This might be the most difficult tip of all: Set a positive example for your kids. If you’re a stressed out maniac running around the house, they’ll absorb the tension. The same goes for your grouchy, where’s-my-coffee mood. If you want to create a happy, positive, start-the-morning-fresh attitude, then it ultimately starts with you. (We know; that part stinks.)