Here’s how to make school mornings easier … not next year, but THIS WEEK.
Are your school mornings often filled with chaos, stress, yelling, and last-minute rushing?
Of course they are, that’s why you are here reading this!
But I promise, you’re not alone.
Here at MMLE, we have interviewed dozens of parents who agree that school mornings can be treacherous and exhausting. And after the kids climb out of the car and head off to school, we can all admit we’ve felt that shameful feeling of ‘messing up’ by losing our cool during the morning rush.
The struggle to get everyone ready, fed, and out the door on time can be a daunting task for many families… especially if you have more than one kiddo!
But with the right strategies and preparations in place, school mornings can be transformed into stress-free and efficient routines that send everyone on their way in a good mood. Ready to take on the day.
Seems too good to be true?
Follow these tips closely, adjust the suggestions for your personal situation, practice patience, and we guarantee you’ll start seeing some big changes in the school morning vibes.
In this article, we’ll explore practical tips and time-saving hacks to streamline your school morning routine, from setting a solid daily routine and preparing the night before to handling unexpected hurdles.
This article is most applicable for parents with smaller children, from daycare, to elementary, to junior high. For tips on high school and college morning routines, check out this article.
By implementing these strategies, you can create a smoother and more enjoyable start to your day, setting a positive tone for the entire family.
Alright, let’s dive into the actionable steps to make school mornings easier and less stressful for you and your kiddos.
Why Are School Mornings So Stressful?
Hate to be THAT person, but in order to find solutions, we must first acknowledge the problem: why are school mornings soooo tough for so many families, anyway?
School mornings can be incredibly stressful, often characterized by:
– grumpy kids that struggle to wake up
– irritable parents that struggle to find morning motivation
– messy kitchens that add to discomfort
– rushing around to get everyone out the door in time
– last-minute tasks that delay and frustrate people
Bottom line is: there is often A LOT to do in a short period of time.
The pressure of time constraints, varying moods, and the need to manage multiple tasks for multiple family members can make school mornings less than pleasant.
Oh, who are we kidding?
Sometimes, they downright SUCK.
But I promise, with a little bit of preparation (and a little bit of luck), we can turn these stressful mornings around and make the school morning routine much less stressful.
Dare I say, even a little bit ENJOYABLE.
Here’s what to do!
Disclaimer we shouldn’t have to make, but we love y’all, so we’ll make it anyway: every child and every household is different. These are practical tips that can drastically improve your school mornings BUT there will always be variables out of our control. Please do not expect perfection, and please be sure to adjust your expectations to the needs of your own children.
How to Prepare for a Stress-Free School Morning
Here’s that “P” word that we tend to roll our eyes at: Preparation.
Preparation is KEY to making school mornings less stressful.
YOU are the CEO of this household, and the chief executive officer MUST be prepared.
Establishing a well-organized routine can significantly alleviate the pressure associated with the morning rush, and we’re going to show you how, so hang in there with us!
By implementing proactive strategies and effective planning, families can create a harmonious and stress-free environment to kick-start their days (most days).
You, as the CEO of your home, should be prepared for the usual stuff that happens each morning, the unusual stuff that happens on occasion, and the completely unexpected stuff that happens rarely (but it DOES happen, and we need a plan in place to deal with it).
Checklist Of Preparation
I sometimes call this one, the ‘checklist of doom’, but don’t be too scared.
Before we dig into the official tips for success, you need to grab a piece of paper or open up your phone notes and jot down the main things that you will prepare for each school morning, every single week.
Get it down in writing so you have a clearer picture.
School starts at 8AM Monday through Friday.
We need to be out the door by 7:40AM.
E is an early riser.
J is a late riser.
L needs their medicine first thing in the morning.
J is often grumpy in the morning.
E eats breakfast slowly.
No one can find their shoes when it’s time to leave.
These are just examples of course. But examples of the regular types of things you can expect to happen each morning, so that you can prepare for them AHEAD OF TIME.
Alright, you have your checklist of doom ready, and it’s time to get prepared for this day! Here are the practical things you can do ahead of time, during the morning routine, and after, to ensure a successful and joyful day for everyone.
Set A Routine
Routine is everything when it comes to smooth school mornings, especially for younger ones.
Establishing a consistent and structured daily routine provides children with that sense of predictability that they need to avoid overwhelm. After a few days of consistent routine, they begin to EXPECT that structure, and it helps everyone move along with their morning efficiently.
Most importantly, a well-planned morning routine reduces stress and anxiety for everyone, because everyone KNOWS exactly what to expect and what is expected from them.
You, the CEO of the house, should plan out the morning routine based on what you already know to be true about your family.
Reasonable expectations are essential.
One of our MMLE moms shared this experience:
“As parents, my husband and I both know that our 6-year-old is very sensitive about the fit of his clothing. If his shirt is too loose or his tag is itchy, it can ruin his morning. We would never intentionally put him into an uncomfortable shirt and then demand that he follow our usual routine – that isn’t reasonable. So we always do a quick ‘fit check’ after getting dressed to make sure everyone is comfortable before moving onto the next part of our morning routine.”
Again: we prepare for the stuff that we know could possibly come up during this school morning, and we create a game plan to deal with it.
To make our school mornings easier, we like to set our routine in 15-minute increments, from the time everyone wakes up till the time we need to walk out the door.
Prepare The Night Before
Now that we have our list of what is most likely to happen each morning, and we have a relatively clear morning routine planned out in 15-minute increments, we can start to streamline our school mornings by prepping the night before.
This can alleviate morning stress and minimize the risk of last-minute disruptions.
Some simple ways to prepare the night before:
– Establish a predictable bedtime routine for school nights
– Talk about the plan for tomorrow morning (do this early in the evening)
– Make sure everyone gets adequate rest by limiting evening sugar and screen time
– Ask everyone if there are any last-minute things that need done for school
– Organize school bags and homework
– Prep lunch and snacks if possible, and if not, have in mind what will be made in the morning
– Have everyone select and lay out their school outfits, from clothes to accessories to socks and shoes
We’ll still make mistakes.
Someone will oversleep. Someone will spend too long in the shower. Someone will lose a shoe – it’s going to happen.
But by mitigating MOST of the potential issues of the morning, we save everyone from yelling and stressing over small stuff.
By organizing school bags, packing lunches, and setting out clothing in the evening, families can save valuable time in the hectic rush of the morning.
In fact, there will be no hectic rush, because the routine is set, the timer is on, and everyone knows exactly what they need to get done in what time frame.
This simple yet effective practice enables smoother transitions and reduces the likelihood of forgetting important stuff.
And don’t ever underestimate the importance of a consistent bedtime routine – it’s actually one of the main success factors to this whole thing.
Creating this routine promotes better sleep quality, leading to enhanced focus and productivity during the school day. And it also instills a sense of structure and discipline in our kids, setting a positive tone for the following morning.
Have A Contingency Plan
This is where a lot of us fail to prepare.
We pack the bags and make sure everyone has their shoes, but we don’t plan for the what if.
Your contingency plan is a designated backup plan that includes the essential provisions for unforeseen events and circumstances.
This includes things like dealing with time constraints, damaged uniforms or clothing, transportation issues, food issues, or lunch money issues.
Ideas for a practical contingency plan:
– Change of clothes in the car for each kid
– An emergency cash fund in the home and/or car for lunch/snacks
– A 10-minute time window set aside for emergencies before heading out the door
– Keeping extra socks and sweaters near the front door for easy access
You don’t have to do all of these things at once, but knowing what unforeseen issues might arise and planning for them will make your life soooo much easier!
Alright, back to the practical tips for the actual school morning…
Use Visual Aids
The use of visual aids like a checklist or a countdown timer can be particularly helpful in reinforcing the routine and instilling a sense of time awareness in children.
After all, our morning school routine is dependent on arriving at school on time, so we have to plan accordingly.
It adds a visual element to time management, making it easier for children to understand the progression of tasks and allocate their time effectively.
This can be especially useful for younger children who are still learning concepts of time and planning.
One EXCELLENT visual aid that works in our family: a very simple magnetic checklist that we have on the refrigerator door. It has 3 simple tasks the kids must do before school and 3 simple tasks they must do after school.
As the parent, I pay attention to the clock and give them a specific amount of time for each task. Then we check them off the list as they are completed.
Have A Dedicated Space For School Items
Designating a specific area for school items, such as backpacks, homework, and lunchboxes, will contribute to a more organized morning routine.
We like the freezer lunch bags and snack bags for our kids, so every day when they get home from school, we clean them out and put them back in the freezer for tomorrow.
They are ALWAYS in the same place.
Are you picking up what we’re putting down here?
Dedicated space tips:
- Maintaining a dedicated space in the refrigerator for school breakfast items can streamline meal preparation for the parent or make it easy for older kids to grab their food on-the-go.
- Hanging backpacks on hooks near the front door can eliminate the stress of wondering where your backpack is before heading out the door – it’s always in the same place.
- Having a specific homework station for all homework, school books, tablets, stationary stuff helps alleviate the stress of finding any assignments or library books that are due.
- It’s also important to have a designated spot for any and all potential ‘last-minute’ things that could cause stress: socks, medicine, hair ties, water bottles, bandaids, etc.
Get the kids in on the organization plan and make sure they know where everything is.
This organization also instills a sense of responsibility in our younger learners, promoting independence and self-sufficiency in managing their belongings.
Structure and preparation are the essential keys to make school mornings easier.
Wake Up A Little Earlier
You don’t have to wake up 5 hours before the kids in order to make a big positive impact on everyone’s morning.
You can start by just waking up 15 minutes earlier and getting YOURSELF together before anyone else wakes up. This will put you into a better mood, ready to tackle what comes your way.
Waking up a bit earlier than usual can also provide a buffer of time to handle unexpected tasks and transitions, reducing the likelihood of rushed and chaotic mornings.
Setting consistent wake-up times, even on weekends, can help maintain a stable morning routine and minimize the need for abrupt adjustments on school days.
By waking up earlier, you can ease into your morning routine, instead of being abruptly forced into the chaos of scrambling to get ready. These few minutes might even allow you some quite time to eat breakfast, get a little exercise, or watch some of your favorite show.
We don’t just want the school morning routine to be easier for the kids, we want everyone in the house to benefit from it!
Have Healthy Breakfast Options Ready
Preparing healthy breakfast options in advance can streamline morning routines and ensure that you and your children have nutritious meals to kick-start their day.
By having a variety of healthy breakfast choices readily available in the kitchen, parents can not only save time in the mornings but also provide their children with a range of nutritious options to fuel their bodies and minds.
Sounds a little cliche, but a good breakfast really is an important part of your day!
Some easy ideas:
- Overnight oats packed with fruits and nuts
- Whole grain toast with avocado or peanut butter
- Vegetable omelets
- Breakfast burritos
- Egg, bacon, and potato scramble
- Waffles or pancakes with fresh fruit
- Yogurt and granola
Having these options on hand will make everyone’s morning flow a little smoother and give everyone some important nutrients to start their day.
Don’t forget to hydrate!
What are Some Time-Saving Hacks for School Mornings?
Implementing time-saving hacks can significantly streamline the morning routine, allowing families to navigate school mornings with greater ease and efficiency.
By incorporating checklists, leveraging technology, and delegating tasks within the family, it becomes possible to optimize the morning process and reduce stress levels.
Creating a checklist the night before can save precious minutes in the morning, ensuring that all essential tasks are completed without oversight.
Embracing technology, such as setting reminders on smartphones or using smart home devices for timely alarms, can enhance time management.
Collaborative delegation is also vital; assigning specific responsibilities to each family member promotes a shared commitment to ensuring a smooth morning. This approach fosters a sense of teamwork and can lead to a more organized and harmonious start to the day.
Use a Weekly Planner
A well-structured weekly planner can serve as an invaluable tool for organizing school mornings, providing a visual roadmap for tasks and activities.
Utilizing digital platforms or social media groups to access and share time-saving tips and resources can enhance the overall efficiency of the morning routine.
Visual charts and interactive digital platforms allow students to comprehensively map out their week, providing a clear overview of assignments, extracurricular commitments, and personal tasks.
With weekly planners, students can prioritize their responsibilities and allocate time efficiently, reducing morning stress and last-minute rushes.
Social media groups create a space for students, parents, and teachers to exchange valuable insights, practical suggestions, and support, fostering a collaborative approach towards managing school mornings.
Have a Checklist for Essential Items
Maintaining a comprehensive checklist of essential items required for school mornings can prevent last-minute scrambles and ensure that all necessary materials are readily available.
By organizing backpacks and lunchboxes the night before and cross-referencing the checklist, students can streamline the morning preparation process. This proactive approach not only saves time but also reduces stress, allowing for a smoother start to the day.
A well-organized backpack and lunchbox can minimize the risk of forgetting important items, such as homework assignments, lunch money, or required reading materials. The checklist serves as a visual guide, ensuring that nothing essential is overlooked, promoting a sense of preparedness and efficiency.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Leveraging technology can offer innovative solutions to enhance the efficiency of school mornings, whether through the use of smart home devices or the integration of visual countdown timers to reinforce routine adherence and time management skills in children.
Smart devices such as smart speakers can be programmed to provide gentle wake-up alarms, while visual aids like digital countdown timers can assist in keeping track of time for tasks such as getting dressed, having breakfast, and packing school bags.
By using technology in this way, parents and children can establish a sense of structure and routine, fostering independence and responsibility from an early age.
Delegate Tasks to Family Members
Distributing morning tasks among family members can alleviate individual burdens and foster a collaborative approach to managing school mornings.
Assigning age-appropriate responsibilities to children can instill a sense of accountability and contribute to a more efficient and harmonious morning routine.
When everyone pitches in, the morning routine becomes a team effort, reducing stress for everyone involved.
By delegating tasks such as preparing breakfast, packing lunches, or organizing school supplies, children not only contribute to the family’s well-being but also learn essential life skills.
It’s important to consider the age and capability of each child when assigning responsibilities, ensuring that tasks are suitable and manageable.
This approach helps children develop a sense of responsibility and independence, preparing them for future challenges.
Involving children in the morning tasks creates opportunities for quality family interaction and strengthens the bond among family members.
Keep Things Organized
Maintaining an organized environment is crucial for efficient school mornings, as it reduces the likelihood of misplaced items and fosters a smooth transition from home to school.
Using visual aids such as countdown timers and designated storage spaces for backpacks and lunchboxes can further enhance the overall organization.
Organization plays a pivotal role in setting a positive tone for the day, as it minimizes the stress of searching for essential items in the morning rush.
Visual aids, like colorful labels for storage bins or a daily schedule chart, can provide visual prompts for children, prompting them to independently retrieve what they need for the day.
Designated storage spaces allocated for each child can streamline the morning routine, allowing them to locate their belongings quickly.
Encouraging children to participate in organizing their items can instill a sense of responsibility and independence.
How to Handle Unexpected Hurdles on School Mornings?
Despite meticulous planning, unforeseen challenges can arise on school mornings, necessitating a flexible and proactive approach to address unexpected hurdles.
By maintaining a backup plan, communicating effectively with the child’s school, and remaining calm under pressure, families can navigate and overcome unforeseen obstacles with greater ease.
Incorporating flexibility into the morning routine can help parents and children adapt to unexpected changes, such as inclement weather or transportation issues.
Being prepared to adjust schedules and activities as needed ensures a smoother start to the day.
Effective communication with the school is crucial for managing unexpected disruptions.
Whether it’s notifying the school about a late arrival or arranging alternative drop-off arrangements, keeping the lines of communication open fosters collaboration in finding solutions.
Proactive contingency planning can include preparing for common disruptions, such as keeping spare school supplies or clothing in the car, having emergency contacts readily available, and familiarizing oneself with the school’s policies on tardiness and absences.
Have an Emergency Fund
Establishing a viable backup plan for unexpected circumstances on school mornings can offer reassurance and preparedness in the face of unforeseen challenges. Maintaining an emergency fund for urgent needs can provide a safety net for managing unexpected hurdles with minimal disruption.
Imagine the peace of mind knowing that alternative arrangements are in place in case the usual routine is disrupted. Whether it’s a sudden illness, inclement weather, or transportation delays, having a reliable backup plan can help parents navigate these challenging situations without causing undue stress.
Setting aside a dedicated emergency fund ensures that financial constraints don’t compound the impact of unexpected events. This careful foresight enables families to tackle any unanticipated obstacles that may arise, allowing for smoother, more efficient mornings for all.
Stay Calm and Flexible
Maintaining a calm and flexible demeanor is essential for effectively addressing unexpected hurdles on school mornings, as it fosters a reassuring environment and promotes adaptability in the face of challenges. Emphasizing the importance of resilience and flexibility can help mitigate the impact of unforeseen disruptions.
When faced with unexpected obstacles, a flexible approach allows for quick adjustments and problem-solving, reducing stress and anxiety for both parents and children.
By modeling flexibility and resilience, adults can instill these valuable traits in children, preparing them to navigate life’s uncertainties with confidence.
Creating a morning routine that allows for unforeseen delays and changes can contribute to a smoother start to the day, promoting a sense of calm amidst chaos.
Communicate with Your Child’s School
Open and effective communication with your child’s school can facilitate prompt solutions and support when unexpected hurdles arise on school mornings.
Establishing clear lines of communication and keeping the school informed of any challenges can contribute to a collaborative approach in addressing and resolving morning disruptions.
A proactive approach to communication with your child’s school can lead to timely and tailored assistance, creating a supportive environment for both you and your child.
By maintaining an open dialogue, you can provide the school with valuable insights into your child’s specific needs, enabling them to offer personalized support.
Clear lines of communication can help identify any persistent issues, allowing the school to implement targeted interventions and strategies to alleviate morning challenges.
This collaborative effort fosters a sense of unity and mutual understanding, ultimately benefiting your child’s educational experience.
Ask for Help When Needed
Recognizing the importance of seeking assistance when facing unexpected hurdles on school mornings can alleviate stress and foster a supportive environment.
Encouraging children to communicate their needs and being open to seeking help when necessary promotes a collaborative and empathetic approach to overcoming morning challenges.
By acknowledging that everyone encounters difficulties from time to time, children can learn the value of supporting each other and working together towards common goals.
Parents and educators play a crucial role in modeling this behavior, emphasizing that it’s perfectly okay to seek help and that doing so is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some tips to make school mornings easier?
Some tips to make school mornings easier include preparing the night before, creating a consistent morning routine, and setting alarms for each step of the morning routine.
How can preparing the night before help make school mornings easier?
By reducing the amount of tasks that need to be done in the morning. This can include preparing backpacks, choosing outfits, and packing or planning lunches.
Why is having a morning routine important for making school mornings easier?
It provides structure and helps eliminate decision-making in the morning. This can reduce stress and ensure that everything gets done in a timely manner.
How can setting alarms for each step of the morning routine help make school mornings easier?
Setting alarms for each step of the morning routine can help make school mornings easier by keeping everyone on track and ensuring that enough time is allocated for each task. This can also serve as a helpful reminder for forgetful individuals.
What are some additional tips for making school mornings easier?
Other tips for making school mornings easier include having a designated spot for school essentials, using a family calendar to keep track of important dates and events, and encouraging children to take responsibility for their own morning routine.
What are your tips and tricks for making school mornings easier?