The first day back at school creeps up on you with stealth. One minute, you’re eating the final Quality Street and helping the kids put on their wellies for a run around the frosty garden, the next you’re asking them where their school bags are.
And it all comes with a large dose of gloom: The fun is over, it’s time for routine and regularity. But routine is actually one thing we often overlook, and some simple tweaks to how you do things in the morning can really make a difference.
These might be some you’ve tried but let slip, some you’ve not tried before, but all can really give your morning routine a happy boost this January…
1. Get up a bit earlier – but just you
Yes, it’s awful. Who wants to get up earlier? Nobody, really. But even an extra 10 minutes can make the morning flow much more smoothly. In those 10 minutes you could have the kettle on, your make-up done (rather than doing it on the train – hoorah!) or packed lunches made before you put your phone away and focus on the children.
It’s a mindful way to start the day, and you’ll be so glad you did when it gets to the ‘rush out the door chaos’ part of the morning.
2. Put the phones away – and that includes the adults
This is a biggie. We all know how time can fly once we’ve started checking emails or social media. And there’s nothing worse than when the kids – in particular those with their own phones – are checking them instead of brushing their teeth. So it’s time to lead by example: Phones away until you’ve done the school run.
3. Stop dreading it
Children going #backtoschool this week? This might require a short period of readjustment, but young people thrive on routine, structure and boundaries.— Child Psychiatry UK (@CPUKteam) January 7, 2019
There’s a lot of ‘eurgh, back to school’ feeling today. And it’s never a good idea to start a day on a negative. So try and incorporate some positivity into the routine. While you’re getting the kids dressed, talk to them about what they’ll be doing: Is there sport today, or a good assembly planned?
Essentially, this is reversing the, ‘How was your day’ part of the routine, to ask, ‘How might your day be?’ Be positive about your own day, too. This is another tip on leading by example: If you’re struggling to get dressed, moaning about your schedule, what do you expect from the kids?
4. Choose your outfit the night before
The children will likely have school uniform, but you can choose from so many different things to wear for work. The problem is, if you make that choice in the morning, it can really eat into the routine you’re trying to set up as a family. So, choose your outfit before you go to bed. It’s one less thing to worry about and frees up time for breakfast.
5. Stop for breakfast
Little man's first day back at school today, not only did he eat all his breakfast, but we were still on time and I managed to go straight to the gym from school drop off. #pleaseletthisbethevibeofthisterm #backtoschool— SarahAnneLily ☕ (@SarahAnneLily) January 7, 2019
Talking of which, you probably tell the kids to eat before they go, right? But what about you? Running out the door with a piece of toast in your hand (or feeling annoyed because you’re going to have to grab something to eat at the office) is stressful.
6. Prepare breakfast the night before
Perhaps the most obvious, but we all say we’re going to do it, then we often don’t. Yes, preparing brekkie is the easiest way to make sure it happens. Bowls and spoons on the table if you’re a cereal family, or jams and plates if it’s toast. If you’re dabbling in porridge (and it’s a great idea at this chilly time of year) then soaking the oats in water or milk overnight in a pan makes life easier in the morning.
7. Ask for help and allocate tasks
Nailing the morning routine is arguably about teamwork. If you have a lot of things to do before you all leave the house, it’s time for some delegation. Can one child make sure the plates and bowls are by the sink while you go upstairs with another for teeth cleaning? Perhaps an older child can help a younger one with their shoes. Give out tasks and offer rewards. Whoever is helpful can perhaps choose the music in the car if you have to drive.
- Press Association