Do you feel like you've run a marathon by 9 a.m. every day (or earlier)? You're not alone. Mornings, especially if you work outside the home (or even from home, being honest!), have kids in school or both, can often be the most intense part of a parent's day. You're frantic, the kids are hyper and it's not even 9AM yet! The stress. Read on for some simple, tried-and-tested tips that should make your early starts less stressful.
Do it the night before
It's the age-old method and you've heard it a thousand times, but generally, the rule of thumb is that everything that does not have to be done in the morning should be done the night before. It's a nuisance at the end of a long day, but you'll be grateful you did it once the morning rolls around. Try setting the same block of time every evening to get organised. Get the kids to pack their schoolbags, prepare their uniforms (as well as your own), set the breakfast table. Then think about any other essentials that will need to be done in the morning, and set the alarm clock.
Everything has its place
Designate the school stuff in one particular area. If you create a box or storage area where all school-related items will go: school bag, lunch box, books, permission slips, journals, it means everything can just be to hand as you go to leave the house without any mad scrambles or panic around the house.
A 'Morning Routine' chart will help
This is particularly good for the kids. Get dressed, make bed, eat breakfast, brush teeth and hair, put on shoes, grab your schoolbag and coat - and out the door you go! You could do it on a board in their room, for example, or buy one and it helps to keep the little ones prone to distraction focused and (hopefully!) on time.
Get them dressed first
A lot of mums choose to let their kids eat before they get them dressed but this really can create a time suck in the mornings. The biggest hurdle in the race to get out the door tends to be getting them dressed. Getting it out of the way first thing, teaching kids to suit up quickly and efficiently (with the clothes laid out the night before) even before they come downstairs for breakfast really does make things easier - just mind there are no accidents at breakfast!
Make Breakfast DIY Inspired
Save the fancy, more complicated hot stuff for the weekends if you find breakfast hectic in the mornings. Get the kids to be very much involved in organising their own where possible, sticking with quick, easy-to-prepare options (or you could think ahead and mix up a batch of overnight oats perhaps?). Have cereal and bowls out (something that could be done the night before) where kids can reach them, and keep milk and yoghurts, accessible from the bottom shelves and drawers in the fridge.
Even in the midst of the most epic 7AM I-do-not-want-to-go-to-school tantrum, losing your cool as well only adds to the stress. And have you ever noticed how your anxiety has the effect of making your kids move in slow-mo? They will follow as you do so if you see them dawdling, gently take a minute to prod them along and make sure they aren't anxious about anything.