Kids headed back to school soon? Establishing a morning routine will help ease that transition from summer fun to classroom learning.
The school supply displays are getting to that picked over stage here, where people have come to terms with the end of summer and are beginning to prepare for the next school year. Are you and your kids ready?
Whether school started last week or its coming up, its time to get mentally ready — and a morning routine will help. With early mornings, lots to do and much to remember, creating a routine for mornings will help ease the transition back to the classroom. But where do you start?
Parenting Expert Meghan Khaitan, creator of the MyBuckleMate Seat Belt Buckling Solution, offered these tips for establishing a morning routine that works for your kids.
- Start a bedtime routine — Wait, bedtime? I thought we were talking about morning routines! But really, making mornings easier begins the night before. “Mornings can be chaotic, so getting things done the night before can make mornings more pleasant,” said Khaitan. Include things like choosing outfits, and laying them out and ensuring that all the homework is done and properly stored in backpacks for the next day, she advises. “Place everything by the door you exit from in the morning so there is no need to search for shoes, backpacks, or homework before leaving,” Khaitan said. No one needs a lost shoe crisis when the bus is rounding the corner, right?
- Create a morning plan — Last year, my daughter took an early morning sign language class. To get her there, I had to rely on my son to get himself ready for school, which was a new bit of responsibility for him. So this tip from Khaitan is something I know works. “Make a morning plan that’s fun and understandable for all kids (even those that do not tell time),” she said. Our plan involved a checklist of things to do in order, with some times thrown in. But her idea is even better. “Use a bulletin board with an inexpensive clock (you can pick one up for about $4) hanging on it. Underneath, draw clocks that tell what time each morning item needs to be done. Example, by 7:15 Clothes On, 7:30 Breakfast Done, 7:45 Coat and Backpack On, etc,” Khaitan said.
- Make a breakfast schedule —Are breakfasts a battle in your house? Eating a nutritious breakfast is a must, as it fuels the brain and body for the day. Over the years, I’ve tried different things to ensure my kids ate well. My kids can make oatmeal with our Keurig, and create their own breakfasts from predesignated options, but I often just make breakfast because I like to. The most important thing? Every breakfast must have have fruit, a carb and maybe some dairy and/or protein. This ensures they have a good mix of nutrients when they start their day. We don’t often have breakfast disputes, but Khaitan said that if you do, creating a breakfast schedule can help. “Assign a specific breakfast to each day, for example, Monday-Oatmeal, Tuesday-Pancakes, Wednesday-Muffins. If your child doesn’t want the breakfast being served, they can opt out and choose cereal,” she suggests. My list of breakfast ideas for kids may help with some inspiration too.
- Plan out lunches — This one is key for my kids and I: We plan ahead for lunches. My kids are allowed to buy lunch twice a week. On Sunday evening, or Monday morning, they mark those days on the calendar, so I know which days they need lunches from home. “Take it a step further and decide ahead of time what those lunch boxes will contain so you’re ahead of the game,” says Khaitan. Need some lunch ideas? Check out my big list of lunch ideas. And homemade bento boxes are always fun.
- Shower at night — And one more, just from me. Mornings can be too rushed to include showering in the schedule, so I have my kids shower the night before school. This way I know they’re clean, and we don’t have to shoe-horn this to-do into the mornings. Win-win.
What’s key to your morning routine?
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.