It’s hard to believe that summer is already drawing to a close, and that another school year is right around the corner! Although you may be excited for what the next school year will bring for you and your children, the thought of battling through another stressful school morning seems overwhelming at best.
We’ve all experienced this before - the alarm clock rings and almost immediately chaos ensues as family members scramble to get ready all at once, searching for missing shoes, unfinished homework, and misplaced backpacks. Amidst the rush, breakfast is skipped or quickly thrown together, leaving little time for nourishment and connection. The lack of a clear plan or routine adds to the frenzy of everyone feeling overwhelmed and anxious to rush out the door to make it to school on time. This scenario can set the tone for a day filled with stress and disarray. But it does not have to be your reality this school year! By implementing and sticking with these healthy back-to-school habits from the very beginning, you can transform this chaotic scene into a calm, enjoyable, and sustainable morning flow.
Prepare the night before: One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for a successful morning is to begin preparing the night before. After dinner, take some time to prepare for the morning ahead by lying out your outfits for the next day, packing backpacks with necessary books, supplies, and homework, preparing your lunches and snacks, and reviewing your family’s schedule. This will save you precious time in the morning! You can also encourage your child to participate in this habit with you to teach them valuable organization and time management skills.
Establish a consistent morning routine: A consistent morning routine can set a positive and predictable tone for the day ahead. By establishing a structured sequence of activities, you can help you and your child start both of your days calmly and confidently. First, begin waking at the same time each morning (yes, even on weekends)! This will help regulate you and your child’s sleep-wake cycle and allow for a sense of stability and predictability. It is also helpful to create a gentle and enjoyable wake-up ritual, such as opening the blinds to let in natural light or playing your family’s favorite upbeat song. By following the same morning routine as consistently as possible, you will help ensure your family is set-up to have a successful day ahead!
Utilize a visual schedule: Visual schedules are a great tool (especially for younger children or those with executive function challenges) for providing children with a clear sequence of activities and steps to be completed. Before school starts this year, take some time to create a colorful and engaging visual schedule using pictures or icons representing morning routines, classes, and after-school activities. Hang it in a prominent place so your child can refer to it throughout the morning. By giving your child the opportunity to know what is expected of them and what is happening next, you can help reduce those morning meltdowns and provide a sense of independence and empowerment! See an example here:
With these three healthy back-to-school habits, you'll be well on your way to smoother mornings filled with ease and joy. By preparing the night before, establishing a consistent morning routine, and utilizing a planner or visual schedule, you'll not only empower your child with essential life skills, but also facilitate a positive atmosphere to kick-start their day. Remember, a little bit of planning goes a long way in making the back-to-school transition a breeze!
Author: Dr. Katherine Lewis
Disclaimer: This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.