However, with our new school year routines this month, it's become pretty clear there's another monthly goal I need to tackle: make our school mornings less stressful.
My husband leaves pretty early, well before the kiddos get up, so that gives me the task of getting myself and two kiddos out the door before 7:15 am. With two schools to drop off at, and a third one I'm rushing to myself, just getting out the door isn't even really the end of the mad dash.
There are definitely a lot of mornings where things do not go very smoothly. The rush, rush, rush feeling settles over us and then ultimately people get crabby (okay, usually me.) I know it's not a great way for any of us to start the day.
But luckily I've been trying to take note of what does make other mornings feel a little less rushed and grumpy, and working to use those ideas to create a plan.
Here's the 8 tips I've developed so far to make our mornings less stressed:
1) Wake up and be showered before the boys are up. (Most days this does happen, but the times it doesn't for one reason or another definitely creates a little more chaos.) However, it can help motivate me out of bed a little quicker on those groggy mornings to remember I need to be done these two things before they get up.
2) Prep as much as I can the night before: this includes making some of the lunches (all three of us take one), laying out clothes for all of us (me too), and making sure any forms/papers for the boys' schools are filled out.
3) The boys get dressed before they eat breakfast. This is truly one of the smallest fixes that has made the biggest impacts. If we wait to get dressed until after they eat we are almost always rushing. Getting dressed first means they're motivated to get to the table.
4) Give the boys responsibility for a few things and make sure they know their jobs. Little Brother mostly needs to worry about finding his own things, finishing his breakfast, and putting his own dishes in the sink. Big Brother has these jobs as well as getting the tooth brushes ready (every little bit helps), brushing his own teeth, and loading both his and his brother's backpacks with the packed lunches and snacks.
5) Let the house go. Okay, obviously I can't truly let the house go . . . but the reality is despite my best efforts our house is often more than a little cluttered. (Hence the goals from January and February.) For some reason this seems to bother me the most just as I'm trying to get out the door for the day. But nothing makes me more grumpy and us later than me trying to tackle it in that moment. I just have to do my best to pick up before bed the night before, and then close the door on it that morning.
6) Be realistic about timelines. I seem to often underestimate the time frame for each step of our morning. Tracking how long each step takes is helping me determine when each part of our morning needs to start. A great example is how the other day I realized that it takes us a full ten minutes to actually get in the car from the moment we put shoes on. I'd been budgeting less than five.
7) Set a timer if needed. There are times I just need an extra little push to keep us on time, and this helps the boys think about what's going on too.
8) Make sure there's time for a little love too! As busy as we are, it's really important to still take several moments for a few cuddles and hugs so that we can reconnect each morning before we head off for the day.
These are the things I've come up with so far in order to create a little more balance in our mornings. This month my goal is to keep as focused on these 8 strategies as I can, but I'd love to hear from you too. What tricks have you developed to make your school mornings a little less hectic and a little more focused on a calm routine?
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