A few weeks into the school year, reasons to loathe the mornings rise like the steam off your coffee cup. The threats. The nagging. The begging. Who are you anymore? Certainly not the parent you wanted to be. The morning time crunch can grind up the best of us. While every kid is different, these 8 proven school morning hacks will help you and your child put your best feet forward and stride confidently into your days.
#1: Don’t Get Stressed: Get Dressed.
Power struggles over princess dress vs. pajamas vs. presentable clothes will bring a well-intentioned morning down to a slow crawl. Head this challenge off by involving your child in planning a week of outfits. If this part of the morning routine really grinds your gears, you’re your child bathe the night before and get right into tomorrow’s outfit so they can roll out of bed ready to rock.
#2: Become Disciplined About Your Dozing.
Fluctuations in the schedule make it difficult to get up on cue. Elementary aged children need 9-11 hours of sleep a night to function properly. No matter what, do your best to stick to this cadence. If you’ve gotten way off, try scaling back 30 minutes at a time until you get within the proper window. Even when the weekends come, set the alarm for the same time or within an hour to maintain consistency.
#3: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.
A checklist can be a Godsend before that first cup of coffee in the morning. Print it out and slip it into a laminated sheet protector, using a whiteboard marker to check off your list each day. Add important tasks, no matter how small:
- Get up & use the bathroom
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Pack folder
- Pack lunch
- Pack water bottle
- Check calendar & email for school reminders
- Brush teeth
- Brush hair
- Put on shoes
Add your to-dos to the list as well so you don’t forget to prep for your day too! If you can get up 30 minutes earlier, do something for yourself —like shower, workout, or meditate! Or, if you’re a night owl, use the time after dinner and before bed to get yourself organized —staging bags, lunches, and outfits the night before. As with flying on an airplane — you put your own oxygen mask on first so you are equipped to help others!
#4: Orchestrate a Well-Timed Ballet.
If your child is prone to distraction in the morning, keep the agenda moving along with a task timer. Provide a visual checklist of all your child needs to do in the morning along with the amount of time allotted for each step. You can add in time for a favorite TV program or a little bit of free-play to reward your child for committing to a routine.
#5: Let a Robot Do the Waking.
It can be frustrating to ask a child to get out of bed over and over again. Try choosing a new kid-tested alarm clock that makes waking up a fun event. Instead of commanding your kid to hop up and out immediately, try a phased approach with three alarms. You might also consider putting on a groovy morning playlist that gets your future America’s Got Talent star singing and dancing out of bed.
#6: Choose a Quick Bite.
If you’ve ever collected cobwebs while holding a piece of half-eaten food, you know precisely why your mornings lag behind. Pancakes, eggs, cereal — these can be slow-going options for the morning rush. Every palate is different, but among the fastest breakfasts are: Bird’s Nest Egg Cups, Gogurts, Pop Tarts, Granola Bars, Oat Berry Muffins, toast topped with Peanut Butter and Banana, or cinnamon-sugar toast and apple slices.
#7: Tune In.
Consider the emotions your child might be facing in anticipation of a day at school. Stay connected to your child’s teacher. Spend a few moments before bed every night recapping the good, the bad, and the ugly of their day. Ask whether your child is interacting with peers and making friends. Does your child feel confident in learning the material? A little bit of emotional TLC goes a long way in proactively managing big emotions that railroad the best-laid plans. Try to keep mornings light and positive, despite your own feelings. Give your child the benefit of a doubt. School is hard! Growing up is hard! Knowing you’re the constant, caring rock makes all the difference.
#8: Try Something New & Meaningful.
An out-of-whack morning routine can also be a symptom of an unmet need. Consider ways of working in more quality time with your child. Sometimes it can be hard to choose a fun activity that you both enjoy. Drop into the Shine Studio for access to art, dance, theatre, music, storytelling, sports, language, culinary arts, crafts, and more. Find your passion. We also offer Family Coaching services if you’re looking to break the cycle and begin anew.