School Mornings: How We Get Out the Door in 15 Minutes or Less

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Woah, school mornings. I have two elementary-age kids, and school starts at 7:40 am. No one in our house is a fan of the early mornings, but we’ve found a few tips and tricks to make the madness a little less stressful. In fact, we can get out the door in 15 minutes or less.

Let the kids go to bed in their clothes. It turns out there’s no rule against this. It seemed a little odd to me at first, but when your kid wears a uniform of hoodies and sweats, it’s a comfortable (and genius?) idea to save some precious minutes each morning. They go to bed clean and comfortable, so it works for us.

Create a Treasure Box. This idea was borrowed from our preschool, where the kids earn the ability to pick a small prize from a “Treasure Box.” We have a chart set up in my daughter’s room, and if she gets up every day without a hassle for a whole week, she gets to pick a prize. These are small items like playdough, art supplies, or doll accessories.

Reward with a ride to school a couple of days a week. Our house is the first stop for the bus. So, getting driven to school means about 20 minutes of extra sleep. We do this when we have a later evening or the kids are just feeling extra tired or overwhelmed. However, we always decide the night before so that everyone knows what to expect in the morning.

Keep a consistent routine. Whether we get to school via bus or car, we get ready in the same order each school morning. We wake up at the same time, brush teeth and hair, go downstairs, grab shoes and backpacks from the same spot, and review what we need for the day before we head out the door.

Use melatonin sporadically. Waking up early means we aim to go to bed early. But sports and other activities can sometimes make that difficult. We also like staying up later on the weekends and during school breaks, so Sunday nights can be a difficult adjustment. Giving the kids a melatonin gummy has been a lifesaver for getting to sleep on time and avoiding having exhausted kids in the morning.

Let the kids eat breakfast at school. This is a big one for us. There’s no deciding what to have, preparing the meal, and waiting for them to finish. They like the meals at school, so this is a simple way to streamline our routine.

Prepare myself for an early start. If I’m a mess in the morning, the kids are going to be a mess, too. So, I do what I can to make myself go to sleep at a reasonable hour, prepare backpacks the night before, and wake up with plenty of time. I also like to have a few minutes to myself before waking up the kids.

Stay calm. Similar to the above tip, I know my kids feed off my energy. Even if I’m not super happy to be up, I do my best to be kind and loving while I wake them up. No one has a good day when the school morning starts off frantic or rushed.

Don’t fight every battle. My daughter doesn’t like wearing socks. My son would rather wear his hoodie than participate in any of the “spirit days.” These are not battles I care to fight at all. So, for the things that don’t really matter, I don’t fight it.

We love the extra family time in the evenings and the extra sleep in the mornings that we get by having a simple, streamlined morning routine. What works for your household?


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