Well — You did it!
You’ve been back to school for close to a month now! Parents everywhere have been sharing in a collective sigh that the season of “I’m bored!” has ended… only to inhale again in preparation for the daunting year ahead. However, just like any other challenging and complicated task, a little preparation goes a LONG way toward getting the kids (and yourself) back into the groove of school.
Practice Makes Perfect
The switch from months of unstructured time to adhering to a strict (and, let’s face it, early) school schedule can be tough on kids and parents alike. If your kids haven’t started school yet, use their final week of summer vacation to prepare them for the schedule that’s coming. Send kids to bed at a reasonable time, and have them wake up to an alarm. Then, set a timer in order to get everyoneready and out the door at the same time they will for school. Bonus: Getting everyone on the road early will maximize your days for summer activities before school starts.
Own the Night
Now that the kids are going to bed earlier, it’s time for you as a parent to harness that late-evening time to make the mornings go smoothly. Decision-making can be especially challenging during groggy mornings, so get some of these things done the night before. Make lunches. Prep breakfast (see below). Pick out clothes, including socks, shoes, and (if applicable) jackets. Load up the backpacks and put them in the car. The fewer decisions needing to be made in the morning, the fewer opportunities there will be for disagreements between family members. Just think, you might even have time for a few sips of hot coffee before heading out the door.
Breakfast of Champions
Okay, this is officially my favorite parenting hack for nailing down a rock solid morning routine. Breakfast. We all know it’s an important meal, and yet it’s crammed at the most hectic and time-constrained part of the day. Again here, preparation is key. Did you know that many healthy and satisfying breakfasts can be made ahead and stored in the freezer? Here are a few of my favorites:
- breakfast roll-ups: Who doesn’t love a tasty breakfast burrito? But when you pile the ingredients in the middle of the tortilla, a chunk of scrambled egg will inevitably end up falling out and rolling away. Try this instead. Pour the scrambled egg mixture into your smallest size of skillet. Sprinkle some cheese on a small tortilla, and then lay the thin egg “patty” on top. If you’d like, you can add a layer of goodies like sausage or bacon, even baby spinach leaves. Then, simply roll it up, wrap it individually in cellophane, and freeze. In the morning, a 30-second ride in the microwave is all it takes to send your kids out the door with a hearty, healthy breakfast in hand. I make huge batches of these ahead of time, so it’s grab and go for weeks on end.
- breakfast sammies: To make handy little egg patties that fit nicely into an English muffin or biscuit, bake the eggs in muffin tins. These fluffy little egg circles are the perfect foundation for a breakfast sammy that can be customized by adding meat, cheese, or vegetables, wrapped up, frozen, and taken for a spin in the microwave right before you head out the door.
- smoothies: If you want to start your child’s day with a breakfast that is quick, portable, and packed with vitamins, fiber, and protein, then a smoothie is the way to go. You can cut up fruit well in advance and freeze it in individually portioned bags. When the morning chaos is underway, simply toss the contents of a smoothie bag into your blender along with a generous glob of Greek yogurt and a splash of water or juice. Hit the button, pour, and go.
Kill the Clutter
This last back-to-school “hack” is as simple as it is useful. Get yourself one of those accordion-style file folders, and designate slots for each child. Every time a school-related paper comes in the mail or home with your child from school, straight into the file it goes. Newsletters, permission slips, study guides, order forms– they’ll all be in one organized place from the get-go, instead of littering your kitchen countertop.
A new school year is an exciting new start for your child and your family. Make the most of it by staying one step ahead and owning your routine.