There are so many things to love about the Fall season: leaves changing colors, pulling your boots out of storage, apple picking, pumpkin-flavored everything, and pulling your hair out to get yourself and kids ready for school every morning. Right? If this sounds like you, read the hacks below on how to make your school mornings run easier and get ready to be a lot less stressed in the mornings.
Invest in a Programmable Coffee Maker.
If you are a coffee drinker, spend the little bit of extra money to get a coffee maker that you can program, so you have coffee already made when you wake up in the morning. This may seem like a trivial matter, but having coffee ready to go as soon as you wake up can be a game changer.
Have Breakfast Ready.
Despite the lies American mothers have been taught from television, very few people have time to cook a full gourmet breakfast every morning. Most are lucky if they can throw some eggs into the skillet before running out to catch the bus. Here are some easy and hearty breakfast suggestions that can be made the night before and either eaten cold or thrown into the microwave for 30 seconds, saving a solid 15–20 minutes in cooking/cleaning up:
– Overnight oats (made in a Mason jar if you’re feeling especially hip);
– Hash brown/egg casserole;
– Breakfast burritos (these can also be made in larger batches and frozen).
Do all Appearance Prep the Night Before.
This includes, but is not limited to, showering/bathing and picking out outfits (including clothes, shoes, undergarments, accessories, make-up). The less you need to think in the mornings, the easier the morning will go. For children old enough to care about what they are wearing, having them pick out their outfits the night before prevents an epic meltdown about why they can’t wear black skinny jeans to school on the 95-degree day, or shorts and a tank top the first day back from Winter Break. At the very least, it will allow the argument to be resolved the night before. For the exceptionally stubborn (read: preschoolers), some families find it’s easier to dress them in their school clothes the night before. At this age, just about all clothes have stretchy waistbands, so comfort isn’t an issue for sleeping, and it will save you 15 minutes of trying to explain to your 4-year-old for the fiftieth time why pants are necessary to wear in public.
If you Pack Lunches, Do it ALL on Sunday.
This tip depends largely on what you pack for your children, and your fridge space. If you are packing leftovers and have six kids with a normal-sized fridge, this may not work for you; but you can certainly take the premise and pack all lunches the night before and just grab them on your way out the door. For those who have the fridge space, this can save you so much time and energy during the week. Power pack five lunches for each kid on Sunday after your grocery shopping; a very popular option for this process is making bento boxes. Bento boxes are essentially a lunch packed with a bunch of different snack options, such as crackers, fruit pieces, bits of protein (hard-boiled eggs, nuts, etc.), vegetable slices, or whatever else your child loves to eat. This is a great option for picky eaters, letting them pick out what foods they want in their boxes themselves. A similar option is to pre-pack baggies with snacks in them (carrot sticks, celery, peanut or almond butter, cheese sticks, etc.) and let the kids pick out one of each category the night before: one fruit, one veggie, one carb, one dairy, and one dessert, such as fruit snacks or frozen yogurt tubes. This gives them control over what they are eating and saves you time.
Overall, the key to reducing school morning stress is to reduce the number of tasks you have to accomplish in the mornings as much as humanly possible. For the things that aren’t achievable to do the night before, such as brushing your teeth, making your bed, and getting dressed, work these into a check-list for your kids. You can even make one for yourself, if you need the motivation as well. If you make a check-list and laminate or frame it, you can hang it where your children can check it off daily with a dry erase marker and reuse it in an ongoing manner. To keep them motivated, try linking this check-list to a reward system. Perhaps one week of checking everything off means an extra 30 minutes of reading time before bed on a Friday night, or an extra 15 minutes of video game time. Find what works for your family and remember that this will evolve over time.