Six weeks of lie-ins, lazy mornings, days spent on the sofa and no alarms. It’s no wonder the back to school routine can come as a shock to both parents and children.
As the new term starts it’s back to making packed lunches, ensuring the uniform is washed, and managing to get your kids up and out of the door on time.
Prepare as much as possible the night before.
Make mornings less stressful by doing half the work before you go to bed. This is what John Adams, owner of Dad Blog UK, does to make sure the early hours go smoothly. “I ensure uniforms and bags are in the correct place along with school shoes,” he says. “A misplaced school shoe can throw the morning routine right out of sync and make you late.”
Netmums advise this preparation includes everything from making sure your kids have two white socks, to checking there are enough clean shirts. “Setting your child’s complete set of clothes out at bedtime will put an end to all those ‘Mum, where are my socks?’ panics.”
Set an earlier alarm.
Especially during those first few weeks when you’re not used to waking up at the crack of dawn, Netmums advise setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you usually would. “We know how valuable every last second of sleep is,” they say. “But instead of a hellish morning routine, try getting up before your kids so you can get yourself sorted first. Trust us – it’s well worth sacrificing the extra 15 minutes in bed.”
Create a weekly planner.
After the summer break, it can be hard to get back into the swing of your weekly routine. When are the after-school clubs? What days do you need a clean PE kit? Adams uses a weekly planner for his kids (or this could be created for yourself, depending on how old your kids are) to look at and see what they need for the day and week ahead. “This also helps the kids learn independence,” he says.
Don’t engage in chit chat.
We all know kids ask the most random questions at the most random times - and the morning before school is not ideal. “Seriously, don’t engage with chatter, answering questions and whining,” advise Mumsnet. “Just speak very quietly about what they are going to do next. It’s a sort of broken-record technique. The quieter you are, the quieter they will be.”
Avoid screen time.
There’s one thing that will no doubt slow your kids down and that’s time spent in front of a screen, whether it be an iPad, phone, TV or games console. “And not just for your kids,” advise Netmums. “It’s so easy to get sucked into reading your emails or checking Facebook in the morning – and before you know it, you’ve lost 20 minutes and you’re nowhere near ready to go.”
In fact, Mumsnet advises that any type of “playing” or chill time should be avoided until they’re ready, “They’ll want to get everything done quicker to get some time playing before they have to leave.”
Don’t get caught up in kids being synchronised.
If you have more than one child, it’s normal to want a set routine that both of them adhere to. Of course, the reality is very different. One child might jump out of bed and want to eat breakfast straight away and the other might want to get washed and dressed before breakfast. “Let go of them being synchronised,” advises Mumsnet. “If one is upstairs getting dressed, the other can have a calm breakfast.”
Congratulate your kids.
Has the morning run smoothly? Did you get to school unscathed and on time? “Congratulate the kids and thank them,” says Adams. “The mornings can be stressful so acknowledge it and thank your kids for doing their bit to get to school on time.”