Advice Column, Parenting

Getting Back Into A Routine

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The holidays have come to an end. No more getting up at half past eight. No more getting done when you feel like it. No more just taking it easy (as if parents could ever take it easy).

You are almost back to the daily grind and now you have start worrying about getting up on time, making lunch and all the other routines associated with normal day to day to day life.

We all have our little sanity savers to make life easier and I thought I would share some tips and tricks I have learnt and adopted in the morning for school.

Our morning routine

Most important is be up before the kids are so that I have time to have a bath and to get breakfast and lunch ready.

I usually decide the previous day as to what breakfast and school lunch will be. This allows me to buy what I need and prevents deciding in the morning based on the contents of your fridge.

We have a dedicated set of lunch containers for their lunches and ensure these are washed the night before and left ready to be packed.

Breakfasts usually consist of oats (energy packed low GI food) every second day, mixed with either cranberries, grated apple, cinnamon or honey. Other days include foods such as scrambled eggs, bacon and toast, home-made crumpets (I have a great recipe that can be mixed and cooked within 15 minutes), French toast with syrup and on rare occasions cereals (Milo, Coco Pops, etc.)

Once done with breakfast and packing lunches, I wake the kids (if not up already). Once they are up, it’s straight to the bathroom for them for a quick wash and to dress. They then have breakfast.

TV can be a big distraction in the morning in getting the kids done, so my kids are only allowed to watch TV once they ready for school and finished breakfast.

With regard to clothing, let them pick out an outfit the night before. We also have a shelf within their reach with a few choices so they can choose their own clothing. School uniforms simplify this process immensely.

School bags are packed the night before and left waiting at the front door.

Non co-operative kids?

This is where the secret box of Milo cereal or Coco Pops comes in handy. It’s a pleasant treat for our kids to have something (or rather anything) with chocolate on it. But they can only have it if they help getting ready for school.

Promising to do a special activity with them in the afternoon is also a good motivator. A visit to the park after school is a good motivator to send a completely lethargic kid scurrying to find that lost shoe.

Sometimes all kids need is a hug and a few extra minutes to wake up. If they are very crabby in the morning, I usually leave them in bed for a few extra minutes while I get something else done and come back for them.

That’s why part of my strategy is to make sure that I am done before the kids so that I can spend a little extra time with them if need be and not trying to do everything at the same time whilst running out the door.

My advice to find the correct routines

Each family is different as is each child. So decide on a routine that best suits you.

Importantly stick to the routine once you decide on it (e.g. in my case I do not give in to the no TV before breakfast rule).

Do allow a certain amount of flexibility in the routine for those non-cooperative days, but not so much that the routine changes every day. If that is the case then you need to relook at your routine.

If you have a nanny or domestic helper, make sure that they know what their duties are in the morning as well. It does not help when you of you are trying to do the same thing or even redoing what one person has already done.

What works best for us is to share the tasks so that one parent is not under pressure all the time. For example, one parent does school lunches and breakfast whilst the other parent washes and dresses the kids.

Routines can have a downside in that children’s lives are so regimented that they don’t get to make choices, do their own thing, play, have fun and just relax. Your routine should be designed to ensure all of this happens whilst having the key features of being well planned, regular and predictable.

And don’t forget that everyone enjoys an occasional change of routine to break monotony.

My apologies if this post is lacking some humour but unfortunately getting done in the morning is no laughing matter……

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