Parenting De-stressing school mornings

September 25, 2012

Feeding, dressing and shuttling kids to school, plus remembering permission slips, vitamins, lunch money, homework and trying to slip an "I love you," or "Have a good day!" in there without pulling your hair out (or theirs!)

It might seem impossible, but the experts at MSN Living have some great ideas. Even if one or two help you, it could mean the difference.

Here's a synopsis of some of my favorites:

1. Get up earlier. If you and your child are consistently running 10-15 minutes behind every day, try getting up 15 minutes sooner. Sounds simple, but it works better than cramming more action into a short timeframe.

2. Organize everything the night before. Pack the lunch box and put it in the fridge, gather library books and sign permission slips. Have a box or basket near the door to hold hats, gloves, student IDs, etc. so they're easy to find. That way you don't waste time looking for lost items. We run around the house at least once a week looking for stuff. This will help my son!

3. Make a chart with pictures, not words so preschoolers can see what they need to be doing: pictures of fruit for eating breakfast, pictures of toothpaste for brushing their teeth, etc. Then set an alarm clock or play music and teach them what they should be doing with each ring of the bell or new song. This keeps little ones who are easily distracted moving, and even makes it feel like a game (beat the clock!)

4. Start the morning with a back rub or short snuggle to make a positive connection with your child. If they start acting up, take 1-2 minutes to get down on their level and re-connect with them to take the emotion out of the situation.

5. Get dressed first. For preschoolers, that means elastic pants and shirts with big buttons that they can put on themselves. Their clothes may not match (my son, Zeke, always gets something different than I've laid out for him), but at least they feel self-sufficient and they're ready to go.

6. Have DIY or do-it-yourself breakfasts in easily reached places or laid on the counter: yogurt, fruit (pre-sliced), muffins, string cheese, bagels, cereal, juice. Save elaborate hot breakfasts for the weekends. Have some of the food pre-packaged in baggies in case they dawdle like my 12-year-old and have to take it with them on the ride to school.

7. Set up a buddy system and let each child be the leader to encourage the others to get moving; trade leaders on different mornings. We WON'T be doing this one at my house. My twins are too competitive and I'll be breaking up more fights that take too much time.

8. Set up a rewards system. They get stickers, gum or other rewards like using the computer or television for every time they're ready on time. Keep it simple and make the rewards reachable.

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