When I recall preparing to go back to work after my maternity leave for my first daughter I remember the dread of how I was going to get out the door, drop her to creche and be sitting at my desk (miles away) by 9am (well between 9am and 10am – thank you flexi time!).
I’m not a morning person. In fact I think I am pretty much at my worst in the morning. So, 7 years after I first returned to work, and now in my role as a stay at home mum, the notion of getting three children out the door by 8.50am, dressed smartly in uniforms and with bags that have a packed lunch in them is pretty much a nightmare.
That said I am a stickler for being on time and therefore I will not let my poor morning performance cause my kids to be late for school.
I have had to make plans and adjustments to ensure it all happens. To anyone finding it difficult I hear your pain and with the school run fast approaching again after weeks without it I am sharing a couple of tips that make my morning routine easier.
1. Discuss the next day over dinner
We try, in so far as is possible, to have dinner as a family every evening. It was something we started when I was on maternity leave on my third and it has worked ever since. It is a great time for everyone to connect, ask how days went and ask about what is coming up in the next day or so.
This might be the very time one of my older two will talk about the fact they have a cake sale the next day – which triggers me to get some coins ready to pop in their bag and bake a batch of cupcakes. Or they will speak of a no uniform day the next day that we had been told about in some note the previous week. It saves early morning panics of “Mammy, I told you two weeks ago there was a cake sale today” and avoids baking at 8.30am or rushing to a nearby shop pre-school.
I did early morning baking once. Completely forgot to bake before I went to bed. I had the note out to remind me to but overlooked it completely. Was very proud of my hot batch of scones running in the door at 9.05am. ‘Straight out of the oven’ I told them as if all part of the plan. I crashed in the door home after the school run to grab coffee and breakfast which had to be missed that day. Never again!
2. Prepare school uniforms the night before
When my kids come in from school they immediately get changed and I try to get a second school day out of the uniform. It saves on washing and also means that their uniform can be folded and put out ready for the next morning. There is no rooting around looking for anything and to make things even easier. I have started putting the shoes with the uniform to save on running around looking for them. I have been there one too many times. Waiting to get out the door as one of them searches for a missing shoe, me screeching “Where did you last see them?” and them innocently replying “On my feet!”
3. Make the lunches and put them in the fridge the night before
It’s a pain making packed lunches but I can’t even fathom making them as part of the morning routine. Taking 10-15 minutes after the kids have gone to bed and making the lunches saves so much hassle in the morning. I literally just pop to the fridge just before we leave in the morning and throw them in their bags. Job done.
4. Work backwards
The best way I have found to get anywhere on time is to work backwards. By backwards I mean start at your end time. What time do I need to be where I going? Then work back with target times in between.
In the case of school they need to be there at 9am. So let’s work backwards. Ok, so it takes 8 minutes to walk from our house to school so I build in 10 minutes in case of tired legs or other distractions. That means I have to be out the door of my house at 8.50am. I build in 10 minutes to brush teeth and grab bags and jackets so that means 8.40am everyone has to be finished breakfast.
Breakfast takes about 20 minutes but I prefer a leisurely breakfast as I like (read need) to have a coffee so ideally I would have 30-40minutes which allows everyone’s breakfast to be made, dishwasher emptied and a leisurely breakfast to be had.
I aim to have everyone dressed and downstairs by 8-8.10am to achieve this but I know that if I am not down by 8.20am things are going to get frazzled and I may not get to have coffee and that will be a BAD morning.
I then have to determine what time to haul myself out of bed to ensure we are all dressed by between 8am and 8.10am.
In an ideal world I would get out of bed at 7.15am, have a nice long shower, do my hair and makeup and put on some nice stylish clothes. Unfortunately I don’t live in an ideal world and I love my sleep.
If I have showered before bed I might roll out of bed at 7.45/7.50am, throw a pair of jeans or tracksuit and a top on. If a shower is required I will allow myself an extra ten minutes and go around with wet hair half the morning.
This is something I really want to work on – just allowing a few extra minutes for me. A quick blow dry, some tinted moisturiser – anything to make me a bit more presentable and human in the morning.
My oldest girl can get dressed by herself and my little man is getting there but needs help so I tend to him or my husband is great at helping, particularly with our 2 year old who likes Daddy to do everything before his departure at 8am.
5. Give time checks
Once you have established your key marker times then give warnings about up coming tasks. While I aim to march my kids up to brush their teeth at 8.40am I alert to ‘5 more minutes before teeth brushing’ at 8.30am (it’s a long 5 minutes in our house!) that way I am not throwing it at them and expecting instant reactions (because I am so not going to get them).
Obviously if you visit my house some school morning you might see a little frantic running around and gentle persuasion to get the kids moving. Who am I kidding, you will see Mammy turn into a lunatic, barking at the kids to eat up, get up the stairs, get their shoes on, get out the door and hurry up all the way through the morning! I daren’t imagine what it would be like if I didn’t use the tips above.
I hope that they will be of use to you too if you, like me, find mornings hard.
If you have any other tips that help you in the morning please do share them below.