Whether your kids are big or small, establishing a morning routine and getting the kids to school (and yourself to work!) can be a hectic experience for all.
Beat the stress and turn up on time with these great tips to make your (and their) days easier!
1. Routine, routine, routine!
There’s nothing more important than having a morning routine for getting your household ready, especially when your children start going to school. With a routine and a bit of practice, everyone will know what needs to be done and how much time they have to do it.
2. Plan in the evening for the following day
Ensure that school and kindy bags are packed the night before and are sitting by the door ready to go. Choose and prepare clothing in the evening to avoid last minute searches for matching socks. On the subject of socks, place a sock inside each shoe and place them somewhere obvious for the next day. Your morning routine is instantly easier!
3. Meal planning
A great idea is to have your kids choose their breakfast for the next day in advance. Whether it is in the form of a formal weekly meal plan, or simply asking the question the night before, this can save a lot of time (and frustration!) in the mornings. Prepare packed lunches the night before too to avoid arguments. Meal planning for the week can save time both in the mornings and the evenings and may also save you money by avoiding buying lunches or dinners of convenience like tuckshop meals or take-away.
4. Get yourself ready first
To ensure you have time to organise your family, getting up slightly earlier and getting yourself ready first is ideal. Factor it in to your routine and you will be amazed at how much smoother the process of getting out the door on time can be.
5. Encourage self-sufficiency
Create a getting ready routine chart for each of your children. Visual charts that demonstrate the action with an image are perfect for even young children to follow. Include steps like brushing teeth, getting dressed and making the bed in the mornings. Laminate and stick these charts up somewhere obvious at eye height to be referred to regularly. Consider using stickers or whiteboard markers for your child to check off each step to getting ready, at least until the routine is coming more naturally.
6. Family calendar
A family weekly to do chart will keep you organised when it comes to extra-curricular activities. Mark down all before and after school activities, as well as those that need specific gear to be brought along. These items can then be packed the night before to avoid a last minute panic when leaving the house. A family calendar will streamline your thoughts each night and make sure nothing is forgotten!
7. Set a timer
Set a timer to warn your family when there is ten minutes left before needing to leave and then again with five minutes to go. This avoids last minute panic with a fair and reliable warning.
8. Add time to your schedule
Add 15 to 20 minutes to your family’s getting ready routine to ensure that you are always on time. For example, if you need to leave the house at 8:15 to get to school, create a schedule so that everything should be done by 8am. Children often take longer to eat and get ready and having some time up your sleeve will allow for out-of-the-ordinary events.
9. Rules for play
Create some firm rules regarding play, television and the use of electronic devices in the mornings. Allow no playing until your child is completely ready. This is another great reason to have extra time allowed for in your schedule. Your children will learn to get ready efficiently in order to be rewarded by some free time. 10 minute of iPad time can also be a great way to buy yourself ten minutes of uninterrupted time to focus on yourself or a task at hand.
10. Less stress for you = less stress for your family
It is always far easier said than done, however minimising your stress when getting your family ready will in turn limit the stress experienced by every family member. If the above techniques don’t work in keeping you calm, try taking a deep breath and re-assessing your expectations of your child – perhaps they are too young to independently complete the tasks you have set them.
About the Author: Ngaire Stirling
Ngaire Stirling is the owner and editor of Brisbane Kids – The biggest kids website in Brisbane and the official guide to child friendly Brisbane. You will find the website full of fun ideas like the best playgrounds in Brisbane to visit. When she isn’t running her website she is being mum to 3 kids and trying to juggle the fun of family, work and life. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter. To see all her articles, click here.
*This article was published in 2013 and updated in 2020 for information accuracy and links.