5 Tips to Make School Mornings Less Stressful.
“Hurry up! We’re heading out the door in five minutes!” This refrain is spoken and shouted across household living rooms each and every weekday morning as caregivers ready their children in for school. Getting children up and out of bed, fed, and dressed is a challenge in any regard, but doing so in a calm, relaxed, and fun manner is quite possible. However, this should be the goal. Studies show that the long-term consequences of stress in children include problems with sleep, high blood pressure, headaches, stomach aches, digestive problems, and immune suppression. Thus, mastering the morning routine is a top priority.
Here are 5 tips for turning morning madness into a relaxed routine:
1. Sit down with your child to discuss and review the plan for getting ready and out the door on time in the morning. Explain to your child that you don’t want to rush in the morning, and you would like to create a plan that allows you and your child to take your time and enjoy the experience, rather than rush.
2. During your meeting, brainstorm all of the activities that typically happen in the morning to get from bed to door. List each activity and create a checklist on an 11x17 size paper that can be posted to your child’s bedroom door, in the bathroom, or in the kitchen. Activities may include eating breakfast, putting dishes in the kitchen sink, getting dressed, brushing teeth, brushing hair, getting dressed, For a fun art project, invite your child to make a drawing representing each activity. After your list is complete, laminate the checklist. Get some different colored markers and allow your child to check off each item themselves as they complete each activity in the morning.
3. After you have finished brainstorming the checklist, talk with your child about their ideas for rewards and incentives for completing all of the activities on-time and with a good attitude. Some incentives might include extra story time that night, a playground outing after school, or their favorite goodie.
4. Choose clothing and organize backpacks the night before in order to reduce the number of decisions and opportunities for debate and discussion. For girls, it can be handy to brush and braid or put in pony tails the night before, as well.
5. Start each morning with some snuggle time. What the snuggling looks like may vary by the age of your child. Younger children will likely want to snuggle with you on the couch or in your bed. Older children may appreciate a soft ruffling of their hair, a kiss, and a hug. Starting the morning connected will inspire your child to listen and follow the plan.
By Laura C. Kauffman, Ph.D.