My kids are not the only ones who get "back to school jitters."
I get them too... and not ashamed to admit it.
My back to school jitters, stem from the thought of stressful "back to school" mornings (read as: crazy mornings.)
If you are anything like me, maybe you can relate.
Just the thought of serving a hot breakfast, dressing my kids, looking decent myself, and buckled in the car by 7:50am can do it for me. Not to mention the different carpools and drop offs I have to coordinate. (Breathe!)
Mornings can be a breeding ground for chaos with too many demands to fulfill within a short period of time. Not being a "morning person" presents its challenges to the mix.
In spite of the long “to do list,” mornings do not have to be a struggle, with the right systems in place, lots of patience and prayers, you can create an optimal (or closest to it) morning experience for your family.
Here are my 10 tried and true suggestions:
1. Start the Night Before:
To make mornings smoother, do as much of your “morning to do list” the night before. Pack lunches, snacks, gym clothes, put away homework, sign permission slips, replenish school supplies, and prepare backpacks ready to go by the door.
Enlist your child’s help in what is age appropriate for them.
Set non-perishable breakfast items like cereals, bowls, spoons, etc. out on the table the night before.
For babies, have their diaper bag packed the night before and your work bag ready as well!
Some even put the bags they need in the car the night before. I (well, actually hubby) used to do that after my second was born. It was a huge time saver in the morning!
When age appropriate, prepare outfits/school uniforms with your children for the next morning, including shoes and accessories! It is never to early to impart organizational skills to your children.
Have designated bins or hooks laid out with a hanger of complete school outfits for each day of the week.
No more, “Ma! Where is my headband,” or “Ma! Where is my other shoe?”
To ease into the “back to school” mode, have your children go to bed closer to their school bedtime routine the week before.
Most importantly, getting to bed on time will help children get ready to start the day in the morning!
This includes you, mom. You need the strength to seize the day. There is nothing like a good night’s rest! Hallelujah!
If your children have a hard time waking up, back up their bedtime by 5-minute increments the night before, till they reach the necessary sleep for their age. (Speak to your pediatrician or look up online for recommended sleep times for each age group.)
5. Start Your Day Earlier:
A good solution, (although not one you or I may be thrilled with) is to wake up 15 to 30 minutes before your children to take care of your needs and (maybe) even enjoy your coffee in peace and quiet.
6. Avoid Meltdowns:
If your child is always running late and takes 30 minutes to do something while having only 20 minutes before they head out, do not expect them to make it happen without a meltdown or two.
Instead, wake them up 10 minutes before to allow for the 30 minutes he or she needs to get ready like a mensch.
7. Morning Chart:
Avoid negotiations and morning meltdowns with clear and concise expectations set and discussed well beforehand.
Creating a simple chart of routines helps identify what is expected of the child in the morning.
Some examples include, wash hands, brush teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, put snacks in backpack, put shoes on, etc.
As your child completes each task, they can put a magnet, sticker, or check to cover the task. The child learns responsibility and independence simultaneously. A motivating factor (i.e. treat or special privilege) might encourage them to follow through on the chart effectively.
8. Breakfast Time:
Have children come down for breakfast only once they are dressed. This will motivate them to hurry the morning process. (I mean seriously, who doesn’t want Mama's homemade pancakes?)
9. Breakfast Prep:
Designate a day to make a batch of breakfast foods to freeze for the week. I make a huge batch of waffles, pancakes, French toast, and blintzes to freeze. Every morning I simply warm up one of those items and voila- breakfast is served! It also makes it easy for my husband to "make breakfast."
I try to serve a hot breakfast before my kids head off to school. I find it is a great way to start the day. It calms the "mommy nerves" in me, knowing I sent them off with a hot breakfast.
Once I served my kids cereal and milk for breakfast and they asked, "How come we didn't get breakfast today?"
"Umm... Cereal and milk is breakfast my dear." I answered.
10. Stay Calm and Carry On: (My favorite tip!)
Create your family’s favorite music playlist. Use the playlist as “timers.” For example, when we are up to Yaakov Shwekey's, “Your Time,” song it is time for breakfast. A cheerful morning sets the tone for the day!
Your tone sets the mood in the house, by eliminating factors that frazzle you; your children will have an easier time following suit with less resistance.
Until next time,
P.S. What's your favorite tip or idea? Comment below.
1. Your home is not a Pinterest board—neither is mine!
When people hear I’m a professional organizer they assume my house is picture perfect. Thank G-d, at the end of the day my house looks lived in (not like a museum, more like kids like to party hardy!)
However, my cleaning is cut down by 40% due to effective organizational systems I set up in my home, so much so that even my 2 year old knows where (almost) everything goes!
Having a “picture perfect” system is not always maintainable or realistic.
Yes, some spaces look Pinterest worthy, however, my goal is to create ways to maximize your space and set up simple and manageable systems that work with the way you naturally function, not against it.
2. Bins don’t get you organized, your behavior does.
If getting organized was as simple as putting things in containers—then wouldn’t we all be organized?
Getting organized is making conscious decisions with the things you own.
First, you have to identify which items you actually use, love, or serve a purpose. Purge what you don’t use.
Then, you can figure out a way to store the items you have left, like using bins if necessary.
You wouldn’t think getting in shape is as easy as buying a pair of work-out clothes, would you?
For most of us, getting in shape means commitment, exercise, fewer cookies (ok, maybe start after the weekend!) Similarly, with organizing, it’s not just buying bins rather, it is your awareness and behaviors!
3. The “One Minute Rule.”
The “One Minute Rule,” that literally changed my life!
The premise of the “One Minute Rule,” is if something takes one minute or less to do, don’t procrastinate, do it now. Personally, it took a lot of discipline to be consistent with this rule, however, the payoff is incredible!
Here are some ways to apply the “One Minute Rule:”
Hang your coat up when you walk in, if it takes one minute or less.
Sift through your mail, if it takes one minute or less.
Put back the item you are holding or just picked off the floor, if it takes one minute or less.
Wash the dishes if it takes one minute or less.
Clean your car out if it takes you one minute or less.
After some time, it becomes “second nature,” so if you haven’t started on this one, I challenge you to give it a try!
Until Next Time,
Adina here, and organizing is one of my deep rooted passions. As a wife and mother I know how difficult it can be to stay on top of your organizing game.