Tips on Navigating the School Run

Tips on Navigating the School Run

1. Set an alarm

It’s not just teenagers who find it hard to get out of bed in the morning – even pre-school children will sometimes want a little longer snuggled under the duvet. However, kids as young as four years old are able to use an alarm clock and respond to a bell or buzzer, even if they haven’t yet grasped the concept of time management. Take them shopping for an age-appropriate clock and show them how to use it, making a point of talking about evening and morning rituals as you set it each night. While you may need to go into their bedroom yourself to ensure they are waking up, it will let them known that their curtains will be opened imminently.

2. Have clothes at the ready

Avoid last minute searches through the laundry basket for a shirt, having to get the ironing board out and finding your child has only odd socks left in his/her drawer. Make time the night before to lay out the next day’s clean uniform, including underwear, shoes, hairbands etc. When buying clothes, go for non-iron garments, Teflon coatings (great for limiting stains) and Velcro shoes (as opposed to laces) – these will all prove to be invaluable time-savers during the morning rush.

3. Refer to the calendar

Buy a large family calendar and put it where everyone can see (on the fridge, for example). Checking the calendar should become a nightly ritual as it will avoid morning panics and remind you and your children of up-coming activities and events. For example, you don’t want it to dawn on you just as you are loading your children into the car that they have swimming/ballet/scouts that afternoon and haven’t packed the appropriate clothes; or that you were supposed to bake 20 cupcakes for the school’s charity cake sale! For larger families, you could even colour-code calendar entries by assigning everyone their own coloured pen – this will make it easier for your child (and you) to distinguish their schedules.

4. Get up before your children

By setting your alarm for 30 minutes before your children get up in the morning, you will allow yourself time to have a peaceful shower, cup of tea and breakfast. Don’t forget, you set the tone for the rest of the day; if you’re happy and calm, children will pick up on this, too. Refer to the calendar to double-check nothing has been missed and use this time to sign any school forms that may need returning. Make sure packed lunches and bags are all ready and waiting by the door.

5. Restrict TV and other distractions

Minimising distractions will certainly help when it comes to getting your child from bedroom to classroom. Television is one of the main culprits and can really add to the feeling of morning chaos. The same goes for other distractions, including computer games. The TV shouldn’t be switched on until your child is fully ready; this could also act as an incentive, and there’s nothing more satisfying than having fully dressed-and-ready children still with ten minutes to spare.

6. Ensure everything has its place

Make sure your children know where everything belongs. As soon as they return home after school, they should put everything back in its rightful place – for example, their backpack goes on the hook, their lunchbox is emptied and left on the kitchen surface and their homework goes on their desk. This will soon become a habit and, as well as empowering them to take more responsibility for their belongings, it will ensure they can always easily access essential school items. Read our blog post on why it’s important for your child to keep an organised desk for more information.

7. Get breakfast ready

Children can be indecisive, so avoid lengthy morning decisions on which cereal to pick by setting up the breakfast table the night before with a select few. You could even ask your child before they go to bed to choose what they are going to have for breakfast the following morning. Avoid presenting them with extensive options – the choice of two cereals or toast should be enough, and allow them to pick a fruit from the fruit bowl. Save the cooked breakfasts and pancakes for the weekend – these take too long to prepare whilst trying to navigate the morning rush. Always make sure they brush their teeth after breakfast.

8. Have lunch ready

Sundays are a great day to make up batches of sandwiches for the week ahead. There are plenty of other options for school lunch boxes, too – take a look at our blog post on how to make a balanced packed lunch for some innovative ideas. The majority of these dishes can be made ahead of time, some of which can be adapted from your dinner the night before, or at least made while you are in the kitchen waiting for dinner to cook. If your children get into the habit of leaving and emptying their lunchbox in the kitchen when they come home from school, you’ll simply need to restock it and leave in the fridge overnight, before popping into their bag the following morning.

9. Have a checklist by the door

Even with the most meticulous planning, we’re all prone to forgetting something from time to time. Avoid this scenario by placing a last minute checklist by the door for you and your children to glance at just before you leave the house. Have they brushed their teeth? Have they remembered their hat/mittens if it’s cold? Have they got their homework/lunchbox? Once everything is mentally (or physically, if you wish) ticked off the list, you’re all ready to go. And don’t forget to praise them for doing so well – this will help them feel a sense of accomplishment.

10. Beat the traffic

While there’s nothing you can do about rush hour traffic, you can carefully plan when you leave. For example, if you know the traffic jams start at 8.15am, try leaving at 8am. You should always keep an alternate route in mind should you come across accidents or unexpected traffic. Have a look online to find out the quickest route to the school, but also other options, including side streets and A roads. These could shave previous minutes from your journey time, as well as reducing the stress caused by being stuck in a traffic jam. Carpooling is a great option, but make sure this is well-planned so you are not waiting around. Text parents when you are leaving so they will have their children ready and waiting for you to collect them.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you implement in order to make your mornings run more smoothly? We’d love to hear from you in the comments box below!