The long leisurely mornings of summer are now over. One of the biggest challenges of starting the school year is getting your children onto a new schedule after they have had months of no schedule at all. For that reason, creating a routine is the most important aspect of getting your children out the door in the morning with the minimal amount of stress – for you and for them. Routines are important because they help children learn what is expected of them. It allows them to be as independent as possible because they know what they are supposed to do. And children always feel more comfortable in predictable circumstances.
There are many things that should be considered when setting up a routine.
- Does your child have trouble waking up? Think carefully and realistically about how much time your child will need – to brush their teeth, get dressed, eat, etc. Than add 10 minutes as a cushion. One of the biggest causes of morning stress is not leaving enough time. Rushing and nagging them while constantly calling out the time in one-minute intervals is not a good way to start the day. It can even make some children move slower.
- Once you know how much time is needed, spend some time streamlining and organizing these morning routines. For example, many of us are not morning people, so have them pick out what they want to wear the night before. Decide whether they should be dressed or eat breakfast first. Little tricks like leaving a toothbrush in the first floor powder room (so they don’t have to go back upstairs if they forget to brush) can prevent last-minute snags. Have their knapsack packed and ready at the front door.
- Don’t wait until the first day of school to start the new routine. Begin waking them up earlier a few weeks before, gradually starting (and ending) their day earlier until they are used to the new routine.
- Teach them how to tell time so they know by themselves when they have to leave the house in order to not be late for school. For children under the age of six who can’t tell time yet, you can still refer to the clock in terms of the old standby: “When the big hand is on the eight and the little hand is on the 30, it’s time to leave.” Note that very young children often find it easier to understand time on an analogue clock.
- It’s important that we do all we can to help our children be one time. However, it’s also important that you make it their responsibility to not be late.