It’s back to school time, and after a few weeks of craziness you thought mornings would be smooth like jazz, right? Wrong. No one is waking up on time, the kids (still) can’t find their backpacks and the whole house is in upheaval. What’s a parent do? Get organized and do it fast. Here’s a priority list that’ll help get everyone whipped into shape by Halloween:
1. Get The Kids Involved
Leaving the house on time is a team effort so ask your little running backs how they think things can go smoother. Then come up with a chart with each person’s responsibilities, i.e. get up at 7, make bed, put on (clean) clothes, rinse the breakfast bowls, whatever. Give out little rewards at the end of the week like a small treat or 10 minutes of extra screen time. And try not to micromanage – is it really worth fighting about mismatched socks? No it is not.
2. Sleep (More)
If you want your team to chop chop in the a.m. they need to be well-rested! That means setting a strict — no exceptions — bedtime. Teens need eight hours of zzz’s and littles at least 10 to function at full capacity. And while you’re at it, set one for yourself. As tempting as it is to stay up late streaming Game of Thrones, Jon Snow isn’t going to help you when your eight-year-old is still in her PJs ten minutes before the bell rings.
3. Breakfast Like Champions
Prep like a sous-chef in a Michelin star restaurant and you won’t regret it. But don’t be a dictator. Ask the kids what they actually want to eat (within reason; pop-tarts will likely be the first answer). Keep the pantry stocked with healthy options and put it all out the night before. Then, give them a 15-minute window to eat, at which point the restaurant is ‘closed’.
4. Be The Time Police
As much as you’d like to believe everyone will be up and out of the house in thirty minutes, they will not. Make a schedule and set reasonable chunks of time for task: 15 minutes to brush teeth and get dressed, 15 minutes to eat, 15 minutes to play etc. Give them 2-minute warnings and if they go over, they owe you the time back in chores or screen time. And give yourself padding because no matter how organized you are, Fluffy the Hamster will escape from his cage.
5. Take A ‘Groundhog Day’ Approach
In a morning scrum, every minute counts, so once you’ve set a plan, stick to it. Put everything in the same place so there are no 11th hour kerfuffles. Lay out clean underwear the night before, and keep backpacks, gym shoes, homework and mittens in the same place at all times. Bill Murray might not like the routine, but who cares. You’re the Andie MacDowell of this house.
6. Get Over Being Perfect
Everyone wakes up aiming to do their best, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Some days will go well, and others won’t. When little Oliver decides he’s going to wear his emoji costume to school, it might be a good idea to remember the world will not come to an end. Take a deep breath, keep calm and carry (his backpack) on. Tomorrow is another day.