Updated: Mar 29, 2020
When asked what is the key to smooth school mornings with kids, I always give the same short answer. They start the night before!
I used to be extremely unorganised and always late. Now I have learned that I was more overwhelmed with everything that needed doing, that I would forget things or procrastinate over what had to be done. Now, in most recent times, when asked what is the key to smooth school mornings with kids, I now share my own mini super power answer. The number one key is... Start the night before!
I am more of a morning person. I love the potential the early morning brings and the clean slate you have to start with. Over the years we have developed some routines that we at night before we go to bed, which have made school mornings with 4 kids enjoyable and a form of “organised chaos”.
Taking about 30-45 minutes the night before to do these activities, means not only are the stress levels reduced in the house, but that I can get myself ready in the mornings before the children wake and the mornings seem to flow, which means we have time to ride our bikes to school (weather permitting). Here is what we do:
1. Set Table For Breakfast.
We set out the bowls, spoons, cups and weet-bix (my kids go to breakfast choice) so all that is required in the morning is for the juice and milk to be taken out of the fridge. This means that the older boys can serve themselves as they get up and I can help the little one's as they sit down at the table.
2. Prepare Lunch Boxes.
This is by far much easier to the night before than in the morning. I used to make these in the morning. But it proved to cause too much chaos and stress. So now when we get home from school the boys empty their lunch box and I wipe them over with a disinfectant wipe ready for making their boxes.
3. Complete Notices.
The children have a paper tray where they place any notices from school when they arrive home. I will fill them in as required and check the school app for any updates. Add anything to the family calendar and sign any online forms as required. Most school forms are online these days.
4. Ensure Clean and Available Uniforms/Clothes.
We don’t actually put the clothes out for the school kids, the kids have access to their uniforms in their wardrobe. However, I do find having their uniform along with socks and shoes means less dilly dallying in the morning and me pulling my hair with the "put your shoes on" scenario.
5. Un-stack Dishwasher.
Depending on what I have cooked and who we have had to visit, our dishwasher can do 2 -3 cycles in a day. Almost always we put the dishwasher on after dinner and I then empty it once I've kissed the kids good night and are in bed. I find that if I am still nearby as they go to sleep, they can hear me making noise and fall asleep easier. The older two take turns to stack the dishwasher in the morning, it is so much easier if it is emptied. Creating a great stress free flow to the morning.
6. General Tidy.
With 4 children, I have realistic expectations about the tidiness of our house. One thing I find really helps is to try and start each day with a relatively tidy house. This doesn’t mean perfection, but means all things back in their place, so when the toddler makes his way into the lounge room for the first time in the morning and starts tipping out the blocks, it is just one layer of toys on the floor!
7. Empty The Bin/s.
We have two bins inside: rubbish and recycling. It is most likely that one of these will need to be emptied and my I check of these at night. Having them emptied means less running around for me the next day.
8. Check The Calendar.
As dates for events come in, they all go up on the family calendar. Checking it regularly means that I have a better idea of what is coming up and can then make the appropriate plans.
9. Make To Do List.
I find that once I have written down my to do list, I automatically feel more in control of what I have to do the next (few) day/s. It also means that I can plan the best way to prioritise the activities that need to be completed and reduce the level of running around that I do. I also keep a shopping list on the fridge, so as I think of things I need or as the last of something is emptied I write it on the shopping list right away.
10. Wind Down.
It is super beneficial to turn off screens an hour before bed time to ensure you have a good night’s sleep. I take this last part of the night to potter around, read, take five minutes to journal etc, before I hop into bed. This means that I go to bed calmer and feeling more relaxed.
These are things that help me to feel more organised for the next day. I have been known to be forgetful, so having an evening routine such as this has certainly helped. I hope these tips help you too.