I HAVE all four in school this year — three in primary school and one in playschool three days a week — so, including myself, that is quite a lot of people to organise each morning.
We all know life is hectic when the children go back to school, we may have small pockets of calm in the day, but overall between school runs, homework and afterschool activities, it’s busy, and that’s not even factoring in the things we do for ourselves as adults; work, exercise etc.
In my experience, regardless of how the day goes, a calm and organised morning sets us all up for the day in a positive way.
I am no expert, and we don’t get it right every morning, but there are a few tips and tricks we have put in place that make life a bit less chaotic and a little more efficient.
In the summertime our routine certainly gets a bit looser, the girls get up anywhere between 7am and 9am, which means one meal drags into the next, I lose track of who has eaten breakfast and someone is always hungry. I do find it helpful a week or two before the girls go back to school to start getting a bit tighter on routine. Not just at bedtime but during the day too.
I too readjust my schedule, during the summer months I am such a night owl because the girls go to bed later and I really need those few hours’ peace that the night time brings. But I have come to realise that peace isn’t worth it during term time because I need to be up early to ensure that we are not rushing in the morning, so I head to bed earlier too.
There is no denying the power of creating lists; a few years ago I got a small tin of black chalk paint and I painted a very basic rectangle onto the wall in the kitchen.
I write reminders for all the things on during the week, from after-school activities, matches, playdates, and meetings, and if they need to bring things like money or gum shields into school it all goes up on the wall.
Make sure your house is set up to work with you and not against you in the mornings. Starting with breakfast, it is helpful if they can do simple things like reach their own cups, bowls and cutlery.
My oldest two can reach the cereals to make their own breakfasts, the four-year-old can’t but she can pour her own orange juice.
Can they reach their tooth brushes and their uniforms? They may seem obvious, but I’m sure I’m not the first parent to miss the obvious because we are often just too busy to see it!
The rest of my house might be falling down under loads of laundry or mountains of Lego, but the one and only area of the house that is at all times kept in order is the hallway. It is quite literally the only way we can get out the door each morning without pulling the heads off each other, and that is to make sure the pinch point, those last few minutes before we rush out, can move along as easy as possible.
I have a box for each child that has their shoes and a few extra pairs of socks in it. We have coats tucked away under the stairs but on coat hooks that are low to the ground so everyone, including the youngest, can reach their own coat. There is a drawer for the school bags so everything has it’s place.
I love the saying ‘don’t put it down, put it away’ so they all do that when they come home from school and it is a great habit to get into.
We have one rule and one reward to help the mornings work, if each girl manages to get out the door on time without me having to ask them repeatedly to do things, and if they don’t fight with each other four out of five mornings in the week, they will get a Friday treat.
This is honestly a game changer for us, it puts the onus back on them to achieve a peaceful morning, and over the last few years it has proved to be a small but effective way of bribing, or encouraging (whatever way you want to look at it!), them all to help the day start off with smiles, not frowns.