For most of us, summer is a bit different than the school year. It’s summer camp instead of school and that rhythm is very different than that of school days. Whether you’re a working mom or a mom who stays home (or maybe you work from home), getting back into the groove when school starts can be tough. Want some ideas on getting that morning routine reset as kids head back-to-school?
Shift Your Mindset
Consider why you want to make changes. Is having a morning routine something new in your household because you’re a new mom or maybe your kids are starting kindergarten? Maybe the last school year (before the pandemic) you had a bit too much last minute trying to get out the door with you yelling, “We should have left 10 minutes ago” and that didn’t start off anyone’s day the right way. It could be you now have second child who might add a layer of complexity to your back-to-school morning routine. Whatever the reason, think through why you want to make changes. That can help you figure out which changes make sense and which ones to toss. You intentionally create your morning routine for the school year.
Use this time to reset your expectations of how the morning will work. This is a great time to learn new habits and break bad ones. And we’re talking about yours and your kids.
Be Gradual with Changes
If you’re still weeks or even days away from the first day of school, start adjusting to the sleep schedule you have during the year. Wake the kids up earlier too. Do this adjustment in 15-minute increments every few days if you still have the time. If not, make the 15-minute adjustments each day until you’re back to normal. And, if you don’t have time for that either, try to wake up kids earlier and simply put them to bed earlier for a few days. Make sure you don’t let them nap, though. Prepare for some rough mornings and see what you can do to help as the school year starts. Don’t stress if there isn’t time for gradual changes. Back-to-school time sneaks up on all of us. Summer is going along and then overnight it’s school time again.
You don’t have to make all the change immediately. Try a few different options out, especially if you’re developing a new routine. Consider some easy options for breakfast like a parfait with granola or make a batch of your favorite muffins this weekend so you can freeze them. Grab them on a morning when things aren’t quite going to plan, and you need breakfast on the go. Take your time when you’re trying to hit your stride and don’t stress if it doesn’t come together the way you had originally intended. It might need a bit more time or you might need to make an adjustment.
Most people talk about getting organized in the spring. Back-to-school time is also a prime time for this. If you can keep things in their place each day, it takes up less time to find the things. It also helps your kids get organized. They know where their homework will be each day and where their shoes are. You don’t waste valuable time looking for your keys in the morning, etc.
Use the Night Before
Using the night before can make a huge difference in your morning. Have kids pick out clothes the night before and provide your input then and there, if you need to. This one change can save you time and tears in the morning.
You can also choose your own outfit the night before if you need/want to. This is especially helpful if you need to be somewhere in the morning. Changing your clothes because you don’t like how it fits or looks together can take up valuable time in the morning.
Make sure kids have their backpacks ready, including any homework. Label non-perishable snacks and put them in the backpacks before heading to bed. You can empower kids to do this and as a bonus, they’ll practice writing. Have the backpacks go in a consistent place like by the door or in the spot where they go usually (ours go on each child’s designated hook in the mudroom).
Consider if there is anything you can do to prep for lunches if you’re still making lunches. Wash the fruit. Put lunch boxes on the counter, ready for the next step. Figure out what other steps you can take to enable you to move along faster in the morning. Consider putting clean containers in the lunch boxes, ready for whatever goes in them in the morning. If, for some reason you need to step away from lunch prep, you might be able to get your significant other or kids to help, if everything is ready for the next step.
Set your alarm clock so you start your day at a consistent time whenever possible. Figure out how things flow together to get the most out of your time. For example, do you wake up early to get dressed or do you get everything ready while everyone is still asleep and get dressed while everyone else gets dressed? Can you have your kids get dressed and brush their teeth before they even get to the breakfast table so that you know that step is done and they don’t go back into their rooms? (Keeping my kids out of their rooms once they are up seems to keep things moving along better in the morning.)
Do you have a formula for what you want to put in your child’s lunch box.? For example, in our household, lunch consists of a sandwich, three to four fruits, and a treat. Knowing that makes the decisions you must make more consistent. It’s not what will you make for lunch, but what fruits and what kind of sandwich. Kids can even help create this formula and the options, so they’ll like whatever you choose from a list.
The idea is to have things consistently flow the same way so that everyone gets into a rhythm, kids included. See what works and make changes as necessary.
Getting Out the Door
When it comes to getting out the door, it’s helpful to have a plan. My suggestion is to use two timers. One gives you the warning and one is the time when you need to walk out of the house. Make sure your kids know what each timer means.
Consider having your kids count the number of items they should have to know if they have everything. This was a recommendation from a pre-school teacher years ago and it has worked amazingly. It empowers your kids and helps teach accountability and responsibility. Plus, it makes sure they have everything they need. In case you’re wondering, we started doing this when our boys turned 4.
Moment for Mom
As you’re working on your morning routine, try to include a moment for you. It can be something small like a self-care check-in (see how you’re feeling and make any adjustments based on that) or writing in a journal for a few minutes. You could meditate for a few minutes or longer if you can fit it in. Trying to focus more time and energy on wellness? See if you can add in a workout or take time to prep a healthy lunch for yourself.
Think about what would make your morning better and figure out how to have even a few minutes or an hour of that in the mix. Remember that it’s about starting off the day the right way for you and your family.
Hopefully, these tips will help decrease stress and start the day off with more smiles for all! What does your morning routine look like? Do you have tips or steps that might help other moms get their morning routine on track for back-to-school?
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant and work-life balance speaker, strategist, author, mom to 2 active, young boys, and wife to a supportive husband. She empowers working moms to create the balance they crave with small changes that make a big impact over time. Her newest book, The Mompowerment Guide to Work-life Balance: Insights from Working Moms on Balancing Career and Family, will launch in late September. If you’re trying to make changes to create more work-life balance, including setting up your morning routine, start with your why and what you want it to look like. Download the free Mompowerment Know Your Why Guide to help you uncover these: www.mompowerment.com/motivation.