Three Days. That's how much time I have until my two older children return to school. My daughter will be entering the 3rd Grade, and my son will be going into the 1st Grade! It's crazy to think that our summer vacation is just about over. Gone are the mornings of "sleeping-in," the pajama days, the late breakfasts, and the "do whatever you want" weekdays.
It's time to change our summer habits and get back into the routine of school life. For us, that means rising early, making cute lunches, and preparing what we can the night before a school day. In order to get out the door in time, we had to find ways to make our mornings go smoothly and quickly. These tips may help your family as well.
1. Designate an area for everyone's backpacks, shoes, homework, lunchboxes, etc.
We are fortunate to have a built-in mudroom between our kitchen and garage. (Let's just say that this was a must for this mama when designing our house.) We have hanging hooks, a built-in bench, and some cubbies. Of course, you do not have to have a fancy mudroom for your things. You just need a special place, preferably, one close to your entrance/exit door. If your short on space, find tubs or baskets that can hold your kid's stuff. Install simple hooks or hanging folders/baskets to hold papers or homework. When my kids come home from school their backpacks go directly on those hooks. Shoes should go in their cubbies. (I will admit that we still have to remind the children not to leave them dropped around the house, but at least we have a designated space.) Folders and homework are packed away in their backpacks when they are finished with their homework. I check their folders, sign papers, and file or dispose of flyers and notes as they work on their homework each afternoon. This is the easiest way to stay organized, to get paperwork taken care of, and to ensure that everything returns to school as needed. In the morning, the kids just need to grab their packed backpacks before they leave the house.
2. Lay out clothes, shoes, and other school necessities the night before.
I have my kids pick out what they are going to wear for school the night before. This means they choose the top and bottoms that they want to wear the next day and hang them on their closet door. They stick their socks in their shoes. This eliminates the "I can't find my other sock," and the "I need a shirt to match these shorts," the next morning. Another battled avoided.
3. Prepare lunches the night before.
I know there are tons of parents who find it easier to have the kids' lunches completely packed and ready to go the night before. Some make and freeze sandwiches. This makes mornings easier, especially for working parents. If this works for you, go for it! I make my kid's lunches each morning. That means I have to get up a little bit earlier if I want to make them fresh, bento-style and cute, but I do not mind. With that said, I DO prepare as much as I can the night before, and simply put it all together in the morning. Preparing means cutting up fruits and vegetables, freezing ice packs or yogurt tubes, filling thermoses with water, and dividing snacks or fruits and veggies into individual containers or baggies. I find that putting out my lunch supplies, lunch boxes, bread, peanut butter etc. on the island the night before makes for easy prepping in the morning also.
4. Establish a morning routine.
Parents and children alike need to establish a morning routine. (This can even be practiced the week before school starts to get the children and yourself use to waking up early and getting ready.) Let the children know what is expected of them each morning. Make a list or chart for them to check off if they tend to forget things or need a little nudging in the morning. (i.e. Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, brush hair, pack your lunch in backpack, etc.)
It's a little easier for myself to get back into the routine of school days. With a little help from my alarm I get up, and get myself completely ready. Then, I make the lunches. Sometimes they are simple and quick lunches. Other times, they are cute and fancy. (It really depends on how much time I have..and how motivated I am feeling.) By this time, the kids are starting to wake up on their own or it's time for me to go and wake them. I get a feeling of satisfaction knowing that I am dressed and ready for the day, and now I just have to guide the children through the rest of the morning.
Ready or not...It's "Back-to-School" time!
Do you have any tips on getting back into the routine of school days? How do you make your mornings easier?