The morning school run doesn’t always have to be a mad dash. Follow our tips for getting your child through the school gates on time, fed, clean and with all the right kit.
1. Lay out school clothes the night before. Set out your child’s clothes next to his bed, including pants and socks. You’ll have an early warning that stocks of clean underwear are running low if you organise clothes in the evening.
2. Keep shoes in one place. Avoid tearing round the house, turning out wardrobes, peering under beds and behind sofas in search of your child’s shoes. Find a spot where shoes always live, perhaps next to the front door. Get your child into the habit of putting his shoes there every time he takes them off. If you do only one thing to prepare ahead, make it this.
3. Get your child to bed on time. This may be easier said than done, but you’ll be glad in the morning that your child was bathed and tucked up in good time.
If your child is in bed at a sensible hour, he should wake up the next morning cheerful and sprightly. He may even do remarkable things, such as cleaning his teeth without being told. If your child goes to bed late, he’s likely to wake up groggy and is more likely to drop his toothbrush down the toilet that brush his teeth with it.
4. Prepare the night before. You’ll breeze through the morning routine if you think ahead. When your child or children are asleep, make lunches, put homework in backpacks, and check there’s enough milk in for the morning. Search through your child’s school bag for permission slips and school newsletters too.
And don’t forget about yourself: choose your outfit for the next day, and if you work, prepare your bag.
If you drive your child to school, top up the car with petrol in the afternoon or evening. Trying to fit a garage stop into the school run is bound to make you tight for time, and this will stress you and your child.
5. Invest in an alarm clock. When your child starts school, let her pick out her own alarm clock. She’ll probably chose the biggest, pinkest, tackiest clock you’ve ever seen. But, hopefully, she may feel a sense of duty to get up when it goes off in the morning.
6. Encourage your child to get herself ready. Help your child to get as far as she can with dressing herself and brushing her hair. Not only will she feel a sense of accomplishment, it’ll save you valuable time – once she gets the hang of it, anyway!
7. Keep breakfast simple. Don’t feel guilty if breakfast isn’t an elaborate affair. A breakfast of healthy cereal, a yoghurt and a piece of fruit will do. Make it easy for your child to have fruit by slicing a banana or chopping strawberries into her cereal. Instant porridge is easy and gives a great start to a winter’s day.
8. Put together an emergency pack. Assemble a just-in-case pack to keep in the car’s glove compartment, or by the front door, for easy grabbing. Pack a cereal bar, hairbrush, hairband, tissues, plasters, a bottle of water or carton of juice and a spare couple of pounds.
9. Take breaks. Give the weekday routine a rest at weekends. And, occasionally, allow for a variation to your school-day schedule. There will be times during the school week that your child has a late night. A trip to the panto at Christmas or a family party celebrating grandma’s birthday are worth a rest from the routine.
10. Make time for cuddles. On rushed mornings, it’s easy to skip the hugs and kisses. A few cuddles in the midst of the morning chaos will remind you all about what matters most in life!