Kick Stress to the Curb: 7 Tips to Survive School Mornings
I don’t know about you, but school mornings can be super stressful for me. I am normally panicked from the moment I get up until I walk out the door with the kids for school. It isn’t any fun. Don’t you agree? I want to kick stress to the curb and survive school mornings! I’ve got some tips to make that happen. So let’s do it!
I used to have a pretty good routine down when I just had 2 in elementary school. I’d get up and get myself ready/dressed. Then I’d start prepping lunches and have those done and fruit for breakfast ready to go by the time the kids were up. Since they had done this routine for a couple years, the big kids knew what to expect.
The kids would then eat their breakfast and then pack the lunches that I prepared into their lunch box and add a snack. Then they would put their lunch boxes into their backpacks and be ready to go.
But add in kid #3 needing to be at school with a lunch every day and calm and prepared seems to have flown out the window. My little one just started Kindergarten this week and I’m back to panic mode in the mornings. And I say, “No More!”
So here are some tips to help you (and me) get back to a less stressful morning before school. And of course, less stress for you means, less stress for the kids. I just hate sending them out the door feeling panicked that we aren’t ready and are once again running late for school, don’t you?
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#1 Pre-Pack Snacks
Being frugal, I don’t often like to purchase the pre-packaged snacks. I prefer to buy the boxes or big boxes (we like Costco!) and then portion them out myself. What I do is take out a snack, take out re-sealable snack bags and portion them out into the baggies. I usually do about 6 baggies worth. Since I have 3 kids that would be enough for them to each have that snack 2 times. Then I do the same thing for all of the options we have: pretzels, crackers, cheese crackers, graham crackers, etc. Doing this gives us a nice sized stock of snacks ready to go. Of course, you can always buy pre-packaged snacks if that is what works best for your family. The idea is that they are ready to go for the kids in advance of the morning rush.
This saves a bunch of time for me and this way my kids can pick their own snack. I find this helps them actually want to eat snack and not come home as crazy, ravenous beasts! Lol!
Make sure your kiddos know where to find the snacks and they are in a place they can reach. After breakfast, I just remind them to go pick out their snack and put it in their lunch box. They love being able to make the choice and do it all on their own!
#2 Have Double Containers for Lunches
Once again, being frugal (and, of course, it is better for the environment too) I don’t like to use baggies for everything in the kids’ lunches. My one exception is for snack, since I had too many re-useable containers go missing because they didn’t make it back to class before heading to the playground.
Every morning I would take the re-useable container out of the dishwasher and dry it before packing lunches. Who wants to do that every day and slow down the lunch packing momentum!?
And then I had an epiphany! Are you ready for it?? Here it is: make sure you have twice as many containers as you need for your kids lunches. This way you don’t have to clean/dry your containers out prior to packing lunch. What a time saver! It eliminates one full step in the morning routine.
I like these containers, because they fit will in the kids’ lunch boxes and are easy enough for the kids to open on their own. (That is a big bonus in helping them actually be able to eat their lunch. Once again avoiding ravenous beast mode!)
#3 Pack Lunch the Night (or Week) Before
Now, before you tell me that my suggestion is gross, hear me out. You’ll be thanking me momentarily. You can pre-make peanut butter or almond butter sandwiches and freeze them. I usually make a whole loaf at a time. I just set aside a couple minutes either over the weekend or one morning that I happen to be up early and do the whole batch. If your child likes their peanut butter (or nut butter alternative) sandwich plain, with jam or with honey, you can just build them how they like them. And they all work out great! I just cut them in half and put them in a freezer safe container or re-sealable bag. Then in the mornings I grab a frozen half or two, put them in the re-sealable container and I’m good to go! No more panic that we’ll be late for school because I forgot to make a sandwich! (Okay, you can start thanking me now. 😉 ) And the sandwiches are thawed by lunchtime.
And if you can cut up fruit or veggies in advance to pack as well, you are even more ahead of the game! The more you can do in advance, the better off you’ll be! It might be a pain in the rear end to take a couple minutes out of your Sunday afternoon, but you’ll be much happier on Monday morning!
#4 Schedule Breakfasts
Do your kids all ask for something different for breakfast? And then you feel like a short order cook and find yourself racing around? That happens to me all the time. My little one will ask for a tortilla, tear it into little pieces and serve it up with bits of cheese and call them appetizers. Not usually what I think of as a breakfast food! (She is very creative, lol!) And my other two will go a different route (thankfully!), but still requiring me to cook to order.
So instead of being a short order cook on school mornings I offer this suggestion: I ask my kids in advance what they enjoy eating for breakfast and then I create a schedule. Armed with this information I can create a rotation of breakfasts they all enjoy. Then I designate a bagel day, a waffle day, a cereal day, etc. And I tell them in the plan in advance or have the breakfast “menu” posted on the fridge. This way they all know what to expect and I don’t have to wait around for them to make up their minds. That saves precious time on school mornings. I generally still let them have their choice of toppings, but if everyone is having bagels I know I can get things going before they even make their way to the kitchen. And I can have the cream cheese, butter or jam out and ready!
#5 Have the Kids Pick Out Their Clothes the Night Before
This can prevent unneeded panic about their favorite shirt going missing. Or give you a chance to gently guide them into more appropriate school choices without adding into it the stress of racing out the door. For example, my little one sometimes tries to wear a heavy sweater, sweatpants and fuzzy socks in the middle of a 100˚F + heat wave. I have to convince her that shorts and a t-shirt are more weather appropriate. And that can take a while. I much prefer to have this discussion the night before so I don’t end up stressed and raising my voice because we are in a time crunch!
#6 Plan Quick, Hearty Breakfasts
So one thing I found is that if my kids just have a piece of toast, they are often hungry again on the way to school. So I make sure that they have some protein and produce included with their breakfast. A favorite for us is hard boiled eggs that I make in large batches. I also opt away from fruit like a mango that takes a while to cut up. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, nectarines and peaches tend to work well since they are easy to prep. Or I heat up some of last night’s broccoli for my little one (not a fruit eater) and myself.
#7 Take a Deep Breath…and Drink Some Coffee!
One thing that helps tremendously is getting up before the kids. This gives you a little time to take care of you. Take a shower, make a cup of coffee or tea, or just take a moment to enjoy peace and quiet. Even a few minutes to mentally prepare yourself for the day can help you get through it without a meltdown of your own. (Believe me, I’ve had those mornings.)
So now I make sure I’m up before the kids to get ready and put the tea kettle on. I take stock of what I need to do to help the kids for the morning and plan what I will be doing for the rest of the morning. And I enjoy a sip of my favorite (non-alcoholic) beverage.
Armed with these tricks, you’ll be able to help make school mornings go more smoothly. A little preparation goes a long way. So take a deep breath, take a sip of coffee and let the morning begin!
What is your favorite time saving or stress reducing trick for school mornings? I’d love to hear them! Just leave a comment below!