It’s 5 am on a cold winter morning and the alarm on your smartphone is ringing louder than a schoolyard lunch bell. It’s still dark outside and the temperature has dipped below 10ºC. While rubbing sleep from your eyes, you slowly make your way to the kids’ bedrooms. It’s time to wake them up for school. You sigh heavily, already knowing what comes next.
From groans for “just 10 minutes more mom, please ” beneath the snug bed covers to finding misplaced school shoes, packing school bags and getting your tight-lipped child to eat unwanted breakfasts, wintertime is just as bad for toddlers and pre-schoolers as it is for the rest of us. No one wants to be forced out of bed on frigid winter mornings, especially children who don’t share the same day-to-day responsibilities to take care of as adults.
Fortunately, there are ways to end the morning madness and stay on schedule. By following our simple 5 parenting hacks, both moms and dads can survive the early morning stress, avoid pouting faces and get kids out the door with the least amount of conflict.
- Get a Head Start the Night Before
Just like a stitch in time saves nine, preparing for school the night before saves time. Have your child pack their school bag the night before while you lay out their school uniform. This will allow you to see what books and school projects must be packed into book bags, and which school clothes need washing or ironing so that you and your little ones are not rushing the next day. Where possible, try to prepare and pack lunches for the following day the night before, or check that you have enough lunch money on had to give to your kids for the following day.
- Evening Showers and Baths
The only thing more difficult than getting out of bed when it’s icy cold is getting undressed when it’s icy cold. Try to have your children take hot showers or baths at night before bed as this saves between 15-20 minutes per child the following morning. When this strategy is used in conjunction with a night-before routine of packing school bags and preparing uniforms, it presents more time to get ready, and leaves extra time for sleep in the morning – for you and the kids. Getting 8 hours of sleep at night is incredibly important for kids to be energetic, productive and focused, leading to improved grades.
- Turn Off Smartphones or Electronics
How often do things you say to your kids go in one ear and out the other because they are in a social media trance? The 21st-century technology boom means that children are becoming tech-savvy much younger, but addicted to electronic screens much faster than generations before. Set a no-device rule for Monday to Friday mornings and turn off all TVs, laptops, smartphones, Tablets and gaming consoles. This will free up your child’s attention to focus on their morning tasks and help to avoid unnecessary time delays that usually lead to rushing, panic and frustration.
- Create a Time Management Calendar
If all your efforts to avoid the morning rush aren’t bearing fruit and stressing you, even more, create a time management calendar. Use a large sheet of chart paper and plot out a weekly morning timetable with designated times for certain tasks to get done.
- Monday: 5:30 am: Brush teeth and wash face
- Monday: 05:45 am: Everyone gets dressed
- Monday: 06:15 am: Sit down for breakfast
When kids have a good time management calendar they can do a better job of keeping track of their time. Getting organised and being able to be focused on what needs to be done and when is important to learn while young as it benefits you for your entire life. Children who learn to be good time managers can get more done and in faster times than youngsters who don’t learn how to manage their time.
- Divide and Conquer
Many hands make light work, especially when raising young children. If you have the benefit of raising kids with a partner, split morning responsibilities between each of you as this will allow more to get done a lot quicker. For instance, while you prepare breakfast, your partner wakes the kids and gets them into the bathroom. Similarly, if you leave home an hour earlier than your partner and the kids, you can prepare lunches before heading out, saving time for your partner when they wake up.
Some families will have to be more creative than others to beat the stress and get to the schoolyard on time, but it can be done. Starting each day with a plan is a plan for success that turns an already-hectic and busy school morning into a pleasant day-to-day experience.