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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Countering Schoolday Chaos in the Mornings

3 Steps to Stress-Free Mornings

My Tricks for Getting Four Kids Out the Door on Time
 


I don't know about you, but during the school year, the time between when my kids wake up in the morning and when we all need to be out the door is often the most stressful hour of the day. And it's not that we're necessarily crunched for time--my kids are EARLY risers, so we have a good hour-and-a-half to do what we need to do... but this past year I just found myself getting really frustrated and losing my patience during that time period.

The main problem is, they want to play. And I LOVE that. I want them to play as much as they can, especially when I know they'll be doing a lot of sitting in school all day. But they would become so engrossed in playing, that it became a struggle to get them out of "play mode" and into their school clothes.

I took a step back and tried to evaluate what I could do to make this time more enjoyable--I hated the thought of starting my kids' days by nagging and yelling at them. And I realized the problem all came from time (mis)management. Since they were up early and departure-time seemed so far away, it somehow produced a false sense of how much time we had to get everything done.

So I instituted a "structure" to our mornings. If you know me, you'll know that I don't like my kids to be super-scheduled. I want them to be able to make their own choices, choose their paths, and make their own mistakes, so I wanted to find a careful "structured-flexibility" to our mornings.

3 Tips for Stress-Free School-Day Mornings with Kids:
 

  • 1. Prepare Lunches and Snacks the Afternoon (or night) Before
    I know many people who struggle with this, but for me it has become a necessity. Because there's always some kind of proverbial fire to put out in the morning (lost mittens, sunscreen application, missing homework), and needing to prepare lunches in the midst of all that madness adds WAY too much stress for me. By making the lunches early, all I need to do is place them in their lunchboxes with an ice pack, put them in their bags, and we're done.
  • 2. 'The Best Ways to Start Our Days' Board
    The details of this will vary depending on your needs/schedules, but basically, my kids are expected to complete everything on this board (see the whole thing below) BEFORE they play in the morning (and yes, that means they wear their shoes in the house--a small price to pay, IMO).  Once all of it's done, they can play away! Maybe they get dressed and clean their rooms before breakfast, maybe after? They can decide all of that on their own. But on schooldays, all that stuff has to be done before the playing begins.
  • 3. Set an Alarm
    Every Monday-Friday, exactly 5 minutes before we need to be out the door, my phone belts out the tune "Who Let the Dogs Out?" (kid-chosen song BTW). When they hear the song, they know we have 5 minutes left, and it's time to clean up their toys or do any last-minute minutiae before school. I have the alarm programmed to go off regularly, so I don't have to worry about forgetting to set it (although that means it also goes off on snow days or national holidays, but again, a small price to pay!)

And speaking of breakfast... another struggle for me. I'm not by nature a morning person. Add to that the fact that I'm not a great cook, and I don't like to cook, and breakfast is no fun. Cereal is easiest, and we have our share of cereals in the house, but I like to mix it up during the week, and I like to incorporate fruit or veggies whenever I can. And I've come to love toaster waffles as a good alternative.

Banana and Honey Minis Recipe
photo source: Van's website

I love that Van's has a good variety of waffles, especially the fact that they have whole wheat options... and for those with gluten sensitivities/allergies, they have gluten-free waffles, too! But my favorite are the mini waffles... and although I have made my share of waffle variations, I'm loving the other great breakfast waffle recipes on the Van's website.

Sriracha Avocado Waffles Recipe
photo source: Van's website

Van's Waffles and Cookbooks Giveaway


So now you can really appreciate how excited I was when Van's asked me to invite my readers to participate in their newest event--a GIVEAWAY for a YEAR'S WORTH of waffles PLUS three signed cookbooks from celebrity nutritionist and best-selling author Joy Bauer - “Slim and Scrumptious,” “From Junk Food to Joy Food” and “Food Cures.”

If you want to enter the giveaway (and I think you'd be kinda crazy not to), go for it here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway was facilitated by Van’s Foods. I was not compensated for this post but did receive free product samples and all opinions are my own. 

And some people (ahem, I'm married to one of them) may think my morning routines are silly or irrelevant... if so, just check in with my husband, who scoffed at me when I suggested he try it with them (I had an early morning commitment and he was in charge of getting the kids to school one day)... I won't give anything away... but the kids may or may not have been marked TARDY that morning ;)

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

And hey, are we connected yet? If not, find me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+, and Bloglovin so we can start sharing ideas together!

1 comment:

  1. Such amazing ideas! These are worth trying with my little students at Phoenix pre-k class. Last week we did rhyme reading and listening activities and had wonderful time in the class. Anyway, thanks for this post.

    ReplyDelete

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