Getting ready for school should be a pleasure not a pain. These six simple tips will keep stress levels low and get each day off to a calm, pleasant start – no fighting, crying, or yelling involved!
1. Establish a night-before routine
Tackling a few of the school morning to-dos during the evening prior will save a surprising amount of time and eliminate a tremendous amount of stress.
“A successful routine includes having your kids getting organized the night before," says Marty Basher, home organization expert for Modular Closets. “Involving your child in this process is a great way to give them some control over their morning."
Tackle baths or showers in the evening. You'll save time in the morning and, more importantly, the process can help kids relax and fall asleep more easily.
Ensure that homework has been completed, permission slips and other school papers have been signed, and backpacks are ready for the next day. Doing so the night before eliminates the hurry-up-it's-time-to-go stress that creates so much havoc the morning of.
Parents, too, can use school nights to ease the anxiety. Ashley Hill, scholarship search strategist and CEO of College Prep Ready, encourages parents to make sure each child's backpack, library book, sports equipment, musical instrument, etc. are in a designated place so there's no scrambling to find them in the morning.
Adds Basher, “Whether it's in the kitchen, in a basket, or on the floor next to the front door, find a spot in the house where you can store everything that needs to leave the house with you in the morning."
2. Use tonight to take care of tomorrow's food
Taking a few minutes after supper or before bed to prepare breakfast and lunch for the next day can make a big dent in your school morning routine. Hill recommends preparing an easy breakfast meal by cutting up some fruit to pair with yogurt, for example. And she suggests packing lunch boxes tonight for a quick grab-and-go tomorrow.
Just make sure the kids don't forget to grab them before heading out the door!
3. Remember that a well-rested child is a happy child
“Put your kids to bed at a reasonable time each night," says Mylee Zschech, mother of two and a certified child sleep consultant with Little Big Dreamers. A successful morning routine begins with a well-planned evening routine.
“A tired child is more likely to be cranky and fight getting ready in the morning," says Zschech. “Make sure they get up at the right time – not only to ensure they are well-rested but to make sure they have the time the need to get ready."
A good night's sleep means less stress in the morning and more energy throughout the school day.
4. Eliminate distractions and reward focus
“Keep your kids focused on getting ready for school each morning," says Zschech. “Don't add extra distractions like watching TV or playing with their iPad while eating breakfast." The last thing you need to be doing is negotiating “just five more minutes" of screen time.
Professional organizer and mom of two boys Stacey Agin Murray implemented a “business before pleasure" rule. “All morning 'business,' such as getting washed, dressed, and packed has to happen before my kids can turn on the TV or play on their phones," she says. “Ending up with free time motivates them to get ready in a timely fashion."
5. Prevent the “I don't know what to wear!" drama
How many times has your child stared at the closet in tears, while you plead with them to select any outfit. The stress – your child's anxiety, your frustration – is exacerbated by the brutal morning rush. Marty Basher, home organization expert for Modular Closets, says it's important to set up a system for school clothes to eliminate that mad morning scramble.
“Get your child's closets organized so that outfits appropriate for school are front and center and easily accessible," he advises. “Hang matching tops and bottoms together and place out-of-season clothing away or to the back of the closet so as not to distract." And encourage your child to select tomorrow's outfit before bed. The task will seem far less daunting when they're not feeling rushed to catch the bus.
6. Ensure that homework is completed before bedtime
Homework can be one of school's greatest stress inducers. You can't make it go away, but you can make it more manageable. Basher encourages families to make a special place for this sometimes unpleasant task.
“While homework can be done anywhere, it is much more beneficial, organized, and productive when you can create a space that is designed for it," he says. “This doesn't mean that you need to have a separate room or office for homework time. With a little planning, any area can become the perfect homework spot."
Routine is comforting, and a child who knows what to expect will be able to get through each school morning stress-free!