It's almost time. Soon your little (and not so little) ones will be headed back to school. This year, let your school year resolution be to create more relaxed mornings. No more yelling. No more rushing. No more forgotten lunches or homework. Start with a new morning routine, and make this year the best yet.
1. Have everything you need ready the night before in a designated spot for each child. That means your children know exactly where to put their shoes, their coat, and their backpack so that every items is right there waiting for them in the morning.
2. Give each child a message center for their cubby or designated spot. On that board, include all important information for the coming week or month. Highlight projects that are due, class events like show and tell, after-school activities, practice times, game times, and whatever else is vital.
3. Prepare lunch the night before or on Sunday for the entire week. Freeze sandwiches, store soups in thermoses, and have snacks ready to go with food labeled for each day.
4. Don't go crazy at breakfast. If you feel you must give your child choices, don't give more than two and ask the night before to avoid meltdowns. If cereal is what your kids like to eat, put it on the table before you go to bed, along with spoons and bowls.
5. Make a checklist for each child. Give your kids some responsibility and control over their morning by providing them with checklists that include morning activities and chores: brushing teeth, getting dressed, and other tasks each child needs to do for herself before school. Each task they check off gets them a gold star reward.
6. Keep yourself organized with a calendar. When and where you need to be for work and the kids, what you'll be making for dinner each night, and any other important appointments or events you have coming up all have a place on the family calendar. That way, each morning, you'll know what to pull out of the freezer for dinner without standing there staring at the fridge. Plus, you'll know if you need your spouse to pick up the kids or if you need to get a friend to watch them for a bit one day this week.
7. When you are putting the kids to bed, give them two outfit choices for the morning and take the winner out. Clothes are ready for your child to put on in the morning without any fights or tears. While you're at it, get your outfit out too.
8. Always give yourself more time than you need. Waking up with 30 minutes to get you and the kids out the door is no way to start the day. Stay calm by going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. But don't get caught in the "I have plenty of time" trap which can give you the illusion that you have too much time and make you later than ever.
By making your morning motto "be prepared," you'll be starting your days off on the right foot and so will your kids. You'll also be teaching them the important lessons of planning ahead and avoiding procrastination, skills they will need for future success.