Before our son started preschool we had a very peaceful morning routine in place. Both of us woke up around the same time, I laid out a few open-ended toys for him to play with as I fixed us some breakfast, then we would eat together followed by one on one time before the frantic schedule for the day started. Our school morning routine though was looking quite different. Even though I read up about helping children adjust to school, it took a while for both of us to adjust to getting ready and out of the house five days a week.
I was missing the peaceful mornings we shared before preschool started. We seemed to be running against the clock every day and rushing to get out the door.
It didn’t help that I have to do this solo on most mornings as my husband usually travels for work.
A rushed start to the morning also meant that I was exhausted by the time I drop him off and start my work for the day. My productivity at work took a hit and I was not happy about how things were progressing.
This is when I decided to take control of the situation and first asked for help. Grandma came to our rescue. After a week with grandma helping out, I took a step back and assessed which areas were most difficult to get through the quickest in the morning. For us, breakfast time and dressing up for school was the slowest drag.
Plus, our son was used to mommy sitting with him for breakfast and now I used that time to prepare his snack box in the kitchen. This left him feeling unhappy which affected his willingness to go to school. Once grandma came over and took over the breakfast department, I sat and enjoyed my one on one time with him, I immediately noticed the difference in his willingness to get ready and out the door. He wanted more time with his Mumma before school. I got that now. It was time to fix our routine.
Today I will talk about how we went from frantic and crazy mornings to a peaceful school morning routine.
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THE SECRETS TO A PEACEFUL SCHOOL MORNING ROUTINE
Prepare the night before
Layout school uniforms, water bottles, school bags the night before.
We prefer having a bath the night before so that the school morning routine is quicker.
I also make sure to prep some of his snack box ingredients and breakfast the night before. This way I am not away from the breakfast table for long and my son gets his wish of mommy and son breakfast time.
For younger kids get them in a routine for a bath followed by storytime and then bedtime. For older kids make sure that they don’t get screen time one hour before bed. Watching screens before bed interferes with good sleep.
A good night’s sleep is essential so the child is fresh and ready to take on a new day. If you have trouble getting your child to bed in time every night here are my top toddler sleep tips to help you get into a healthy nighttime routine.
Wake up before the child
I avoided waking up before my child for a long time. I wanted that extra bit of sleep so bad. But once I started waking up before our son, I could immediately tell the difference in how our mornings changed.
Those extra 20-30 minutes gave me time to prepare breakfast (that way I could sit with him for breakfast, gave us more one-on-one time before school).
I could drink my morning cup of tea in peace. It gives me time to reflect or plan my day in my diary. It puts me in a good mood and that mood transfers to everyone in the household, believe me.
On other days, if my son wants to sleep in a little extra, I let that happen too, in the meantime, I am preparing everything for him. And that little bit of extra sleep makes a big difference to his mood. This technique is especially useful in families with multiple kids, set a staggered wake-up alarm. That way each kid gets time to himself in the bathroom and you avoid early morning bathroom use fights.
Set the mood for a calm morning
There is a strict rule in our home for no screens in the morning. Instead, our son gets time with open-ended toys like magnetic tiles, blocks or his cars. We also try our best to fit in reading books in the morning. This usually gets him in a good mood for the day. I make sure to pick up stories with positive messages or jokes to lift up his spirits in the morning.
Pack simple lunch boxes
I like to go with quick and easy to assemble lunchboxes. Especially on days when I am solo parenting, I tend to go with breakfast ideas that can become the mains in my son’s snack box. So if we have dosa for breakfast, he gets cheese uttapam in his snack box. Or I stick to quick to prepare snack ideas that won’t take me more than 10 minutes in the kitchen. I even ask my son to join in and help me prepare his snack box. Add in some fresh local fruit, nuts and seeds and bam! you have a quick and healthy lunchbox ready for school.
Here are a few lunchbox ideas for you to try.
Give the child a heads-up
This is a big one. Before every next step in the routine (especially for younger children) give the child a heads-up about what is coming next. This gives a child an idea of what is happening in the day and you avoid a few tantrums.
You can also use tricks like a 2-minute timer to get dressed or a morning routine chart to get the kids excited about getting dressed and moving along to the next steps in their routine.
Have family morning traditions
At present we do a book reading in the morning and I pack a favorite snack (his favorites are raisins, apricots or cashews) of his for our ride to the school.
You can read positive affirmations, build a special morning song playlist for the car ride, something that the child will look forward to in the morning and cheer him up.
Always say bye with a hug and a kiss.
No matter how the morning pans out remember to always give your child a hug and kiss as you send him off to school. A special high-five or cute byes like, “See you later Alligator” leave your child with a smile on his face and a sprint in his step.
So there you have it, the secret to a stress-free parenting life is establishing solid routines. Especially on school mornings, all you want is for your children to leave home in a happy state of mind and a good routine ensures just that.
How does your school morning routine look like?