It is 20 minutes before the bell rings, and you are rushing out the door – or at least trying to. You call out to your teenager to hurry, grab whatever you can find for breakfast for everyone, and get in the car. Meanwhile, you are putting the finishing touches on your own appearance, praying that there are no red lights on the way to school. You’re rushed. You’re stressed. You’re wondering if there is a better way to start each morning. Sound familiar? Here are some tips to create a routine for a stress-free school morning with your kids. Why a routine? Because it provides a sense of peace and predictability, especially for kids. You also know what to expect without any guesswork. While no one can plan for every missed detail, a morning routine is a great way to ease into your day and eliminate stress and chaos on school mornings.
1. Involve your kids
If you want to create a routine that will survive long-term, then everyone must be involved. As they get older, many students enjoy independence. Listening to their ideas about what will work, and implementing them, gives them ownership of how they can start their day. It conveys that their opinion matters and is valuable. It also reinforces their problem-solving skills and confidence. Tackling the problem together of how to have a smooth morning, not just for you but for them as well.
2. Consider temperament
A person’s natural temperament can have a lot to do with their morning routine. Is your child more of an early riser or night owl? An early riser may like to shower in the morning, while a night owl may prefer to shower at night. An early riser may prefer to finish up some homework in the morning rather than staying up late to finish. If your teenager is a night owl, then attempting to create a routine that requires an early bedtime will be unsuccessful. Natural temperament can influence how productive we are at different times of the day. Partnering with your student to discover how they function best will save time and frustration on school mornings.
3. Meal planning
How many times have you woken up asking the question, “What are we going to have for breakfast?” or “What am I going to put in their lunch?” As a result, you dash into the kitchen, praying there is something of nutritional substance. Or you try to get dressed quickly so that you can stop by the local fast-food place to scarf down something to eat on the way to school. A little bit of meal planning during the weekend can bring some relief as you try to create a routine. It’s also a great way to save on food costs. It does not have to be elaborate. Just planning on having a smoothie or frozen waffles in the morning establishes a sense of calm. Additionally, older children may be able to handle the responsibility of getting their own breakfast and lunches. Meal planning is a small way to decrease stress during busy school mornings.
4. Avoid confrontation
If there is any family conflict, mornings are not the optimal time to seek resolution. No one enjoys bickering in the morning. Often, disputes require more time to resolve than the few minutes you have when you are trying to get ready for the day. Instead, find another time to discuss any challenges and settle disagreements. This will result in a better outcome, and it’s a pleasant way to start the day. Usually, what feels urgent in the morning seems unimportant later in the day.
5. Get organized
Organization tends to get a bad rap. For many, it conjures up feelings of boredom and micromanagement. However, getting organized can eliminate stress and make life enjoyable. And it does not have to be elaborate. It can simply mean obtaining a family calendar and listing all the academic deadlines and extracurricular activities on it. There are so many online resources and apps that can help you get organized.
Getting organized also means getting rid of stress-inducing clutter both emotionally and practically. Overcommitted? Reduce your responsibilities. Had a good idea that just never came to fruition? Feel free to eliminate it and try something else. Getting organized is intended to create a routine that is effective for your family.
6. Reinforce good sleep habits
Waking up refreshed and ready to start the day significantly influences a stress-free school morning. Families are busier than ever. Academic pressures and late nights are an intense reality for many students. A lack of sleep contributes to poor academic and work performance, mood disorders, and other health problems. Untreated sleep disorders are a global health concern.
If your family struggles with unhealthy sleep patterns, consider seeking the help of a sleep specialist. The most effective treatment for insomnia does not include medication and has been proven to outperform traditional sleep medication.
7. Create a routine that is flexible
Successful plans require flexibility. Life circumstances often disrupt the best-laid plans. When this happens, resist the temptation to throw in the towel. Instead, create a routine to accommodate resilience. Being consistent in minor ways can have significance. For example, getting up at the same time each day brings continuity when life seems complicated. Or having your kids keep their backpacks in the same place will prevent confusion in the morning. Flexibility changes a busy school morning into a blissful one.