Back to school is not that far away for many children (some are already back) and with that brings stress for most parents. The summer schedule is often more relaxed and laid back, with late nights and lazy mornings. So when the early morning alarm clock goes off on the first day of school many parents and kids are scrambling to get to the bus stop or into the car for the drive to school.
How can we make this annual routine go a little smoother? The answer of course is preparation but not all of it has to be about you.
1. Get your kids involved
Sit down with your kids and talk about the upcoming routine change. Ask them what they need from you to feel supported and talk about how they can contribute to the morning routine. I did this with my children and it gave them a chance to feel heard and also feel part of the family structure. Maybe they need help packing their bags in the morning and maybe they can take responsibility for where they leave their stuff when they get home. Children are wise so see what they come up with.
2. Make the morning wake up fun!
In my coaching practice with clients the most common complaint I hear is the struggle to wake up their kids and get them moving in the morning. Waking kids up can be like poking a bear – many kids are cranky, sluggish and uncooperative in the morning – no one enjoys this!
Engage them in a conversation about how they would like to be woken up – most kids will tell you they do not like to be barked at or reminded multiple times – try and honour that – no one likes to be nagged, especially in the morning. They might also tell you they would like some music to be woken up to; dance music or something soothing. Or maybe that they would like their back or hair stroked for a minute. Whatever it is try and honour their requests and try it out for a week. Be creative and find the win-win
3. Plan the breakfasts ahead of time
In our home we have a breakfast menu. I sat down with the kids (aged 9) and asked them to tell me their favourite breakfasts. We made a list and then I reviewed it with them crossing off items that would take too long or be too difficult to make. Then we set a menu for the week. For example, Monday is cheese omelettes, Tuesday is cereal, Wednesday is pancakes, Thursday, French toast and Friday is choose your own from a short list of regular items, which they asked for. This also means they make their meal, at their request, and help is always available. Now I know what we are having each day and this makes the morning routine much easier. It also really helps with the shopping as I know what items to get.
4. Be creative with the lunches.
Lunch ideas are often hard to come up with. With limited food choices because of allergies, lunches are more challenging to make. We sat down as a family and we talked about the types of lunches they preferred. To my surprise they wanted hot lunches! This was actually great because now all we do is make extra at dinner and serve them leftovers for lunch. Great leftovers can include things like casseroles, pasta dishes, shepherds pie, and even stir fries. Our kids don’t have access to a microwave at school so we pre-heat their thermoses with hot water, re-heat the meal and pack it up – it literally takes about a minute!
We also cut up the fruit and vegetables the night before so they are ready in the morning. We have baskets for the others snacks the kids like and they pick out those in the morning so they get what they want.
Sandwiches seem to be a common lunch item and getting your kids involved with making them or at least choosing the ingredients will make things easier. No one likes food that comes home because he/she didn’t like it.
5. Get yourself organized
The morning routine will likely not go well if you aren’t fully prepared and organized either. This usually means you are showered, dressed and made up before the kids get out of bed. I know this can be hard sometimes but if you want to model what being prepared and organized looks like then you will have to own your part of the morning routine. I know the days that I wasn’t ready added stress and frustration to everyone – trying to put my make-up on while making lunches never went well!
Try it out!
Sit down with your children this week and talk about the upcoming transition. Ask them about what they would like the morning or afternoon routine to look like and find out what their needs are. Take the time to create menus or lists of favourite foods so it isn’t a mystery each morning.
The key is to involve your children and find out what they need to feel supported and successful. You will likely gain insights into their needs, stresses and what their challenges are. The more you know the better you can change and modify the back-to-school routine to make it run smooth for you and them!
Got some other back-to-school ideas you would like to share – use the comments field below!
I am a Certified Integral Life Coach™ and I offer coaching programs and services to support and guide you in your parenting and life. The programs I offer are transformational and will make a huge impact. Click here to learn more!