Back to school parenting advice: tomorrow starts today

Back-to-School 2If your children are going back to school then Morning Madness is about to begin again. Which family doesn’t suffer from this ‘disease’? Getting a family up, ready and out of the house on time is a logistical challenge on the best of days. Over the years I have yet to come up with a complete cure for Morning Madness, but I have worked out there are a few things that really do help and it starts with understanding that a smooth start tomorrow starts with some planning today.

 The night before

Tomorrow really does start today. Do as much preparation for the morning routine as is possible the night before.

  • Get the children to pack their bags.
  • Sign off the homework books
  • Pack as much of the lunch box as possible (I still leave the sandwiches for the mornings as they must be fresh, or maybe you buy pre-packaged ones that are well-sealed).
  • Juice bottles can be made and stored in the fridge
  • Ensure that all their school clothes are out and shoes are polished
  • Dish out vitamins and supplements for each member of the family into covered ramekins, small Tupperware containers or a daily pill dispenser (which you can load for the week on the weekend)
  • Lay the breakfast table

In the morning

This advice refers to technology in homes that can be a real distraction.

  1. Switch off the television. We learnt this the hard way.  My husband is fond of having the TV on for company as he wakes up earlier than us.  But if left on when the whole family hits the breakfast table it is a disaster.  You see, TV increases the size of the theta brainwaves – these are the relaxation brainwaves – not the get up and go ones.  So if you think your child has left the room even though his/her body is still there, you are right!  Haven’t you noticed how you have to repeat yourself a gazillion times and they find it difficult to tear their eyes away from the screen and pay attention to you?
  2. Switch off the radio. Blaring radios also slow down the get up and go process for both my children.  Now I know that in many households the radio is left on almost permanently as background noise.  The problem is that it can create environmental noise & clutter, a kind of interference that you can do well without when trying to get out of the house on time.  Just count the number of advertisements punctuating the programming every few minutes, let alone the pace of some of the breakfast radio programmes and hectic beat of the music.  It can make one’s head spin!  Try different kinds of music from fast to calming classics and see the difference for yourself.
  3. Keep kids off their iPads, tablets or phones while they are getting ready. You can allow them to have a treat of 15 minutes of gaming in the car if they are ready on time.

 Your state of mind

 A parent’s mood, stress levels, general state of mind and level of personal organisation are a major influencing factor on Morning Madness. On the days when parents are less stressed and calmer, generally (but not always), the children are more together and better organised.  As an example: in winter, I find it harder to get out of bed so I am in more of a rush myself.  This has a knock on effect on my children putting pressure on all of us.

In addition, no matter how well you plan, no two days are the same. This means creatively responding to the daily demands that life brings. An important presentation we are giving to a new client, a deadline we have to meet at the office, a sick child, a temper tantrum from a toddler at an inopportune time, the fact that we, or one of our children, just woke up on the wrong side of the bed – these all determine the degree and severity of Morning Madness.  They also ensure that life is never dull and monotonous, albeit sometimes challenging.

Rest assured, most families are in the same boat every morning and, if you could film what goes on in your best friend’s house, you would probably laugh yourself silly. I hope this advice helps you get into the swing of back to school with as little stress as possible.  For more practical ideas and advice read Back-to-School Sanity Savers.

For an inspiring workshop for busy parents, book me to present my Parenting on the Run workshop at your office or school.

 

 

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