As the sole parent of three kids under eleven, leaving the house is often chaos punctuated by lots of bickering and nagging.
While this is generally the norm for weekend outings, going through this every morning to get to school and kindy was doing my head in. I also felt it wasn’t a great way for any of us to start our day.
Mornings aren’t my forte and one of my children is so absentminded that he has arrived at the school gate without shoes or a school bag on more than one occasion. Throw in a temperamental three year old and an eleven year old who signs up for every extra curricular opportunity going, it’s easy to see how mornings result in chaos.
Therefore routine and structure is the only way we all get out the door alive and sane.
Here are some things I have found that have helped to get us out the door on time :
- Coffee first. The kids know that this is the first thing mum will attend to when I get up. I need this five minutes headspace to be able to focus on the task out hand.
- No-frills breaky. I insist everyone starts the day with breakfast but fancy cooked items are not on the menu. Cereal, toast and fruit are all that’s on offer on weekdays for the sake of time efficiency.
- Lunch boxes and notes are dealt with the night before. As part of the afternoon routine, the kids have to empty their lunch boxes and hand me any notes. This avoids hunting for clean food storage in the morning or dealing with any nasty surprises like book week costumes at the last minute.
- Clothes laid out the night before. The two older kids are responsible for checking they have clean uniforms and I will get out clothes for the littlest one, although this is often subject to change depending on three year old whimsy!
- No devices, TV or video games. The key here is removing distractions. Too many mornings saw me yelling at a half-naked child who was staring at the telly. Mornings are all business, unless by some miracle everyone is ready early.
- Everyone knows what’s happening. When I put the kids to bed we go over what’s happening the next day, whether that be early band practice, soccer training or a play date after school. This way when they wake up they know the game plan for the day and can prepare accordingly.
- Dedicated homework day. This has been a big one for us as in the past there has been morning panic about forgotten items due. When ever possible all homework gets done Monday afternoons so that we can forget about it for the rest of the week.
- Making the kids responsible. It’s so easy for parents to end up doing everything ourselves because its ‘easier’. However, I realised I wasn’t doing my kids (or myself) any favours by doing this. The kids each have jobs to do before we leave like feeding the animals, brushing teeth and packing what they need for the day. They know these things are their responsibility and we all have to do our part to help the household run smoothly. They also know that if something gets forgotten, or we are running late because of a certain individual, they must take responsibility for that.
Now, I can’t say our routine is fool-proof and there is still the odd morning when either the three year old or I can be found doing the school run in our pyjamas if we’ve had a rough night. However, our morning stress has been greatly reduced and we are a well oiled machine compared to the chaotic whirlwind we used to be.