Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Ready to go Back to School

    When Matt was young, the month of August was always bittersweet for me.  It felt like every positive was balanced with a negative. I cannot believe that Matt started first grade more than twenty years ago.  It seems like only yesterday that we were all excited about the first day of school.   I wanted to make the morning routine easy on us, and so  I'll share a couple of my best tips.
    It's fun to shop for back to school stuff, but it means that summer is going to end soon.  Sadly, it's getting dark at 8 o'clock now, but the cooler nights  gives us some great sleeping weather.  School will be starting soon, and that means it's important  to come up with the right schedule to accommodate each busy day.   
   Getting everyone out of the house in the morning  can be a nightmare, and so I'd like to offer two simple solutions.  This week, start the practice runs for the new school year.   Have the kids set their alarms for a school day.  Tell them they cannot spend the last week of summer sleeping late, they need to enjoy the last week of summer.  Spend the morning organizing their rooms, then get out and enjoy the day.  After a few days of getting up early, let's hope the kids will want to call it a night earlier.  Have them go to their rooms at their new bedtime, even if they read or listen to music for an hour before lights out.  
   Work on a reasonable estimate of how much time each will need in the morning, then write the schedule out and put on the refrigerator.  I was finally grateful that my son was wide awake from the minute he opened his eyes in the morning, and we could get up and out in 30 minutes if we tried.  We allowed 45 minutes for our morning routine, and I divided it in three segments.  At 7am, Matt had fifteen minutes to get up and dressed (uniforms made this easy) . The next fifteen minutes was allowed for breakfast, which was finished by 7:30 (I worked with moms who said their kids fell asleep in their cereal bowls).   He then had fifteen minutes to wash his face, brush his teeth, comb his hair, and fill the backpack with lunch and homework.  The goal was to be in the car, and on the way to the bus stop by 7:45am.  At any time, we could look at the clock, and know if we were going to be on time.  I only had to point to  the schedule on the fridge, and we knew if we were running late.  This saved a lot of discussions, and stopped a lot of  morning battles.  I also added an incentive.  As a reward, Matt could pick out his snacks for school lunch, if he was ready on time.  I always packed fruit, which I was told was not cool.  
   The idea is to take the drama out of mornings, so be realistic about the time you will need.  Factor in a few minutes for unexpected delays.....after all, spills happen.....and the beat goes on....the beat goes on.......


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