Tuesday 20 March 2018

Speed Up School Mornings – 4 Top Tips to Get Up and Out

Eleanor Collier

Do you dread the manic rush in the mornings? Do you fear the bathroom wars and scramble for lost keys?

Do you vow that things will change for your family this September and you’ll eat breakfast together beautifully and have an actual conversation before leaving the house?

Abandoned breakfasts, lost uniforms, unwashed sports gear, sudden requests for complicated hairstyles, last-minute demands for school money at the front door… Sound familiar?

So just how do you speed up school mornings?  Whether you have a long commute or are a stay-at-home parent, whether your first child is starting school or you have a house full of teenagers, here are 4 Top Tips to get up and out and break those Back-to-School patterns this year:

1.  Plan, plan, plan

It might sound obvious, but parents across Ireland agree that planning – and only planning - is the key to success and sanity on school mornings.  Tesco Ireland have spoken to parents across the length and breadth of the country, who have been gathering and sharing tips and advice for a new Parents Panel.

Lunches are often the biggest stress but there is no reason why these can not be made the night before and just assembled quickly and packed the next morning to speed up everybody's exit. 

To save time in the morning, it can be a good idea to make sandwiches the night before school, pop them in an airlock bag and then a lunchbox. Keep them in the fridge and they’ll be perfectly fresh the next day.

And to save on costs it’s all about forward planning.  When you’re doing your big shop, consider what you will be cooking for dinner each evening - leftovers can make great school lunches.

2.  Beat the Bedtime Battle

The transition to September is a big one, particularly for younger children.  They’ll have been out regularly until dark during the summer and outside their normal patterns, so it will be difficult for many children to make the adjustment.  However, if they don’t get to bed early enough on school nights, the morning will be even more of a battle for them.

Parent Belinda from Cork suggests a way around this:  “After a long summer, it’s hard to get the kids back into an early bedtime routine.  Ease them in gradually by reducing their bedtime over a week or two,” she says.  Budget permitting it can also be a good time to buy new bed-linen or pyjamas just to add to the attraction of going to bed early!  It’s also advisable for parents to get to bed a little earlier themselves, to prepare for the new routine.

Starting with a new teacher or in a new class can take a number of weeks to adjust for some pupils and children may not have seen their friends over the summer.  Last-minute nerves can make school mornings very stressful, so it’s good to anticipate this and work in advance to allay any fears that children may have.

Invite your kids’ pals over for a little party before they go back to school.  Spending time with their friends will ease those first-day nerves.

3.  Live with Lists

Lists are essential for busy parents and whether these take the form of a piece of paper in the kitchen drawer, a detailed timetable on a wall or a shared electronic diary, they are essential for the smooth running of any household.  Keep a list in the kitchen somewhere you can access it and add to it easily.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to smooth mornings is the scramble for PE gear or kit for after-school activities or the search for spare cash for a last-minute request from the school.  Living with lists will eliminate those extra stresses and while there will always be a few surprises when it comes to school mornings at least you’ll have the basics sorted.

4.  Encourage Independence

It helps to encourage your children to be as independent as possible in an age-appropriate way.  For younger children, lay out their clothes the night before and teach them to start dressing themselves and make their bed in the mornings, so that you are not under additional pressure. 

For older school-goers, whether you are at home full-time or they are with a minder, encourage them to put their shoes and coats in a designated place, know where their sports gear is and take responsibility for their own timetables.  Take time to chat with them and involve them the night before so that you are all set for the morning. 

Label everything, so that you are not left with last minute losses.  Think about getting up a little earlier than usual just so that there is less of a rush.  Try to be calm yourself even if you have an early conference call or meeting ahead as children will pick up on stress and the transition may become even more difficult than usual.  Keep it all as simple as possible.  Prioritize and try to have a few minutes for a quick chat with each child, rather than just following them around with instructions.  Modern life has many pressures, but if the day starts well, it’s likely to be more productive and happy for everybody in the home.

This September, it’s guaranteed that there will be toothbrush wars, lost gum shields, rows over electronics and disappearing shoes, but no matter how crazy your school mornings get, following these top tips should ease you in to Back to School mode and the bliss of that first coffee!

For last minute Back to School tips and tricks, check out Tesco’s Food & Community Hub.

Sponsored by: Tesco

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