How to streamline your mornings
School-day morning stress
School-day mornings can feel like a bit of a treadmill at times, and that’s often why parents as well as children breathe a sigh of relief when the school holidays arrive.
The mornings can be a huge rush and just that act of being in a rush can cause a major meltdown in children who like to t-a-k-e t-h-e-i-r t-i-m-e.
If we aren’t careful, from the moment our little darlings open their eyes on a school day it can be one long list of instructions.
- Get dressed
- Brush your teeth
- Go to the toilet
- Wash your hands
- Brush your hair
- Eat your breakfast
- Have your drink
- Wipe your face
- Put your shoes on
- Put your coat on
- etc etc etc
All of this is often repeated multiple times as well because most children are replaced by zombies who required you to say “put your socks on” in 10 different languages before they comply.
If we aren’t careful this can make for a very stressful morning for all concerned and by the time you reach school, you feel like you’ve done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson, and to be fair, you probably have that look about you too.
Planning ahead can have you winning before the day even starts. There will always be that thing you can’t plan for, someone needing a poo as you are all going out the door, a nappy explosion as you pop the little one in the car seat, or some random vomiting bug that decides to reveal itself on the school run, BUT the rest of it you can plan for. You know your children best, and you know what can be done in advance of the day to smooth things along.
Things like, getting everyone’s clothes out the night before can save a huge amount of time. There is nothing worse than frantically looking for a pair of pants or socks in the morning.
Having lunchboxes done and ready to go the night before is a must for me. Also having all bags either by the door or in the car and ready to go can avoid any last minute panics.
Getting out bowls and cups for breakfast can help speed things up, you could even set the table the night before and cover things with cling film. I do this with cereal and then just add the milk in the morning. It might not seem like much time would be saved but it stops unnecessary faffing in the morning.
Staying organised is a must when everyone is going in different directions and has different commitments each day. Some people work well with visual reminders that keep them on track. Maybe you are a list person? Maybe you like to have everything on your phone? Maybe everyone’s diary for the week is stuck to your fridge?
I have a large chalkboard in the kitchen that I write the days of the week on and underneath what is needed for each day. With four children, all with varying clubs, after school activities and general requirements for school each day, it can get a bit confusing otherwise.
Having systems helps. With a large family I have to have systems for just about everything, and also keep things flowing, otherwise someone would end up without school uniform or swim kit at some point.
I always try to reset to zero before bed (so to speak) – starting the next day in a mess always makes me feel as if I am on permanent catch up. Whilst emptying the dishwasher for the third time that day, sorting washing or drying things of the draining board is often the last thing I want to be doing before bed, I know I’ll hate myself in the morning if I don’t and I’ll be trying to get on top of this for the rest of the day.
Keep it easy
Trying to keep things ‘easy’ like Sunday mornings throughout the week can be hard, but for me this is linked to planning ahead and staying organised. It just makes life so much easier.
On a Sunday I try to get some food prep done for the week ahead. I will chop up a few cucumbers, punnets of strawberries, carrots and pop them all in tubs in the fridge. I then use these in packed lunches during the week or at meal times in the evenings at home.
I always make sure I have plenty of apples and clementines in, as these are great for snacks, quick breakfasts, eating on the go and packed lunches. Easy peel clementines and mandarins are a delicious treat full of vitamin C and a great source of water to keep you hydrated throughout the busy school term.
Our favourites are the sweet tasting and seedless, Chilean easy peeler clementines and mandarins that are now in season, and best in class, providing a rich source of fibre, calcium and magnesium. They are so convenient, the children can peel them by themselves and they are a nutritious snack for children and and us parents too! My daughter especially loves these during swimming galas to keep her refreshed and hydrated.
Batch cooking in advance for the week makes meal times in the week easy and means that hungry children can be fed a nutritious meal in a few minutes. This avoids stressing during the morning rush about what is for dinner that night.
Retain your sense of humour
Children are unpredictable, and as a parent with a lot on your plate, you can easily loose the plot being pulled in hundreds of different directions. Trying to retain a sense of humour in these moments is crucial.
Laugh it off, breath and remember tomorrow is another day!
Expect the unexpected
If you expect the unexpected more often than not, you will feel on top of your game much more frequently. Despite potty training my two youngest some time ago now, I carry a potty in the car all the time and changes of clothes.
I also keep baby wipes and snacks permanently in the car – baby wipes fix almost everything right?
I also keep a towel in the boot, you never know when a downpour will hit that means everything and everyone is soaking, but it’s normally on the school run.
In the winter I keep the wellies in the boot – you just never know!