School run stressA quick google or hashtag search of the school run and you’ll find lots of horror stories of fraught mornings ruined by missing uniform, unmade packed lunches and getting stuck in traffic! It’s a stressful time for many parents and it can set the mood for the day that follows. For even the most organised of mums and dads, the school run can leave you feeling frustrated and a bit deflated!
For the kids, it can be just as anxiety inducing, as they wonder why mum has asked them four times to put on their shoes when they're just trying to remember which foot each shoe goes on. Or dad has raised his voice again to speed up the whole breakfast choosing/making/eating process! It’s no wonder that some children rush off into school, forgetting to kiss mummy at the gate, excited to spend a fun-filled day with their friends!
Last week however, a series of what I liken to small miracles occurred in our house! Firstly, Stan (4 1/2) made his bed without me reminding him. He even tucked up his Paw Patrol dogs safely so they could sleep while he was at school! This made me smile.
Next, Rosie (2) tidied up her room with a little help from her favourite clean up song! Since going to Messy Play where they play a tidy up song whilst everyone helps to put things away, she’s reacted really well to using a song at home! It gives her a sense of focus and a great feeling of achievement if she has finished by the end of the song! You can find the clean up song here.
Both children were amazed to find that after breakfast we had 10 minutes to spare, so they could watch a little bit of TV! This rarely happens during the pre-school scramble to get everyone up and out! And...here’s the absolute icing on the cake... I actually made myself a cuppa... and drank it sitting down!!! Not whilst rushing around with it in one hand, book bag, shoes and coat in the other! And it was HOT! I know you’ll appreciate just how wonderful that it!!
Three wheels or four?That morning, we walked to school. Stan scootered! That’s normally a treat we save for the way home, as he’s no pro and it certainly takes us longer on his wheels than in mine! We were super chilled, happy in each other’s company and actually enjoyed the slow walk to school! No missed kisses at the school gate for us; even Rosie was told by Stan to pucker up! What a difference these small things make to your day!
De-stress your morning!So I’ve put together a list of things that may help you to take the stress out of those precious before school moments. For working families, this may be the only interaction you get until the tea-time chaos ensues! For others, school pick up can seem a long time to wait to ease the mummy/daddy guilt of the school morning rush. So wouldn’t it be rewarding if those before school moments could be golden? Hope it helps!
- Uniform - Have it washed, ironed and ready to go each night. As Stan is still learning to dress independently, I lay his clothes out in the order he puts them on, even laying the polo shirt button side down so it’s the right way for him to pull it straight over his head. Same with his school jumper. It’s little things like this that make it just that bit easier for him. All I have to help him with now is tucking in his shirt and sorting his collar! I hope to crack this by July!
- Toddler/baby clothes - Rosie’s clothes are also ready to go. She’s usually up first so as soon as she’s been to the loo, it’s off with the pjs and straight into simple clothes, like a jumper and leggings. Nothing with buttons or buckles when time is precious!
- Your clothes - Have them ready the night before to grab and throw on before sorting the kids in the morning!
- Lunches - I’m lucky enough that Stan has school dinners so I needn’t faff with lunches for him, but I work two days a week so I try to get mine ready the night before too. Usually at tea time while I’m waiting for something to cook, so I don’t have to spend additional time in the kitchen in the evenings!
- School admin - Have reading records signed the night before and put back into book bags. Sign any school letters and pop them in too.
Teach the children to take charge of something. This makes it easier on you.
- Stanley has been taught to make his own bed; he may need a reminder but he does it now without argument. He just knows that making your bed is one of the things that needs doing before we all go downstairs.
- Rosie knows she has to put away her toys before she comes down too. She has a little play whilst we get dressed as she’s always ready first. That’s just how it works in our house, and she’s learning that too. With a little help from her tidy up song!
- I don’t always do this as my two are pretty good at picking in the morning. But if I know we are going to be short on time, I’ll get the kids to tell me what breakfast they want the night before. We choose bowls and spoons (we still have all the plastic character crockery here!) and lay them out on the table ready, before bed. It can save precious decision making minutes in the morning! Who knew choosing between the princess bowl and the Pepper Pig bowl could be such a dilemma when you’re 2?!
No TV/tablet before everything that needs doing is done!
- It surprising how well this little bribe works with mine! It’s a nice little reward for them for getting ready in time, and chills them out for those last few moments before we leave.
Plan your journey.
- Set yourself a “time to leave the house” time and try your best to stick to it! I set mine 5 minutes before the time that I absolutely must leave by, which allows me a few extra minutes to be running late before all chaos ensues!
- If you’re walking, have pushchairs/scooters/book bags/coats ready to go, by the door if it helps.
- If you’re driving, allow time to get the kids strapped into car seats/de-ice windscreens/warm the car, etc! Plan to leave 5 minutes ahead of time to try and avoid the scramble to get in the car and go!
And don’t forget - There’s always time for a cuddle and an “I love you.”
I don’t profess to be an expert at any of this, we’re all human after all! But these are some of the things that help us to have a calm, purposeful and enjoyable morning together. I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments below if you do, or if you have any tips to share. I look forward to hearing from you.
Finding joy in the little things: The little “miracles” I mentioned earlier are the kinds of thing that make me smile in the morning! It makes me proud to know that the children are growing up to be helpful and independent. By creating a positive, calm, “working together” atmosphere, we can all enjoy the mornings in each other’s company. I hope you can too.
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