by Kym Byrnes
With the start of school comes chaos, arguments, confusion and frustration, and that’s just trying to get out the door in the morning. Here are five tips to help parents make that morning routine a little smoother and the trip out the door for the day a little more efficient.
Streamline the Paperwork
Even with the advent of technology that allows so much information to come home from school via email and newsletters, there still seems to be a never-ending trail of papers that pile up, quickly. Each evening, assess the paperwork and separate it into four different piles. Pile one is immediate action items – paperwork that has to be signed and returned to school or that requires payment. Deal with this that evening and get it out of the way. Pile two is informational paperwork that can be saved for future reference (details about an upcoming field trip or what the students will be working on in coming weeks). Pile three is artwork or stories or projects that you may want to display, archive or toss. Pile four is “I don’t know” – ambiguous papers you’re not sure about. Create folders or trays for piles two, three and four and when they get full, throw out information that is outdated or irrelevant.
Ready, Set, Go! Timers and To Do Lists
Kids tend to be task oriented and are often motivated by a visual of their accomplishments. Try creating a to-do list that the kids can check off as they complete each task. When they can see what needs to get done, they can often work more independently. Timers can not only keep kids on track, but can also add a gamey element to the morning routine. Set the timer for 10 minutes and tell the kids they have to finish breakfast before it buzzes. This will help them avoid dilly dallying and distractions. And for really competitive kids, you may find that they can actually get ready in the morning too fast.
Just Say No to the Screens
Kids and parents alike can benefit from avoiding the lure of screens – phones, ipads, televisions, computers — in the morning. It can be easy to get caught up in the morning news or a morning TV show, or even with checking email or social media. What is meant to be a quick search or update can end up sucking valuable time out of your morning. Have a “no tech” rule in the morning until everyone is ready to walk out the door. Then, if you have an extra couple minutes, give your social media pages a check or watch 10 minutes of the news.
Create a Designated Prep Station
Avoid the chaos of the morning hunt – for a shoe, that homework folder, the band instrument. Dedicate a place close to the entryway for backpacks, school papers, keys, purses, lunchboxes and anything else you know you will need to leave the house with in the morning. If there is no mudroom or entrance way, repurpose a piece of furniture or hang some sturdy hooks near the entryway. Let the kids know that when they get home, that is where their gear goes, and it should all be back at prep station at bedtime for an easy exit in the morning.
Dress the Night Before
Cut down on morning arguments by having children choose their outfits the night before. Be sure to check the outfit to make sure it’s appropriate for weather, school rules, commitments that day (gym, school pictures). Not only does the child then have some say in their school day, but it also reduces the number of decisions sleepy heads have to make in the morning. Also, try to purchase clothes with fabrics that are wrinkle- and stain-resistant.