School mornings in our home used to be crazy. In fact, I used to dread them. Waking up three sleeping bears was downright painful and I often resorted to dishing out empty threats just to get them out of bed. When the kids would finally emerge from their bedrooms for breakfast, they would greet me with negative attitudes, demanding their breakfast. Once they had eaten, it was always a race against time to get everyone out the door and to school before the bell rang. By the time I’d come back from drop-off, I was already mentally and emotionally exhausted – and it was barely 9 a.m.
We knew something had to change; we couldn’t keep doing this day in and day out. So, when we moved into our new home this past September and the kids enrolled at a new school that starts an hour later, we decided it was time to set up a routine. I didn’t want us to just “survive” the mornings anymore – I wanted us to thrive and send the kids off to school happy and excited! But I knew for that to happen, the change had to start at home and we needed to set up clear expectations.
I’m happy to report that eight months in, school mornings are now a breeze in our home now. It’s become a well-oiled machine where everyone knows what is expected of them. Our secret? Game-changing morning hacks that you can easily add into your family’s routine. Here are five that have worked for us:
1. Have your kids set their own alarms
Our kids are sleepers. They are all night owls which then make early school mornings challenging for them to wake up. Knowing this, we decided it was time for them to set their own alarms. We’ve made it fun for them, too. We downloaded an alarm clock app for their tablets and phones that let’s them choose which sound and colour they’d like for the clock.
Now when it goes off in the morning, it’s no longer myself or my husband trying to get them up but rather the alarm (which, funny enough, they never seem to talk back to!)
2. Create a morning playlist and blast it!
Because no one in our family is a morning person, there isn’t a ton of excitement around waking up so early.
However, something our family does get excited about is a good dance party. While I would normally have them in the evenings whenever I’m prepping dinner, I’ve started blasting an upbeat and energetic playlist in the mornings, once everyone is awake. We all respond positively to music – it’s hard to not be motivated to move and get excited about the day ahead when the beats are pumping!
3. Set up a clear routine for the kids
Back when we used to dread school mornings, it was often just me and my husband running around, trying to get everyone going for the day and making sure our home was neat and tidy. It was exhausting and part of what contributed to our own angst during those early years.
What we noticed is that we all functioned better with set routines. So we started giving our kids “chores” to do every morning. They aren’t hefty, but it’s enough for them to have some form of responsibility.
Every morning, once the kids are dressed, they all have to make their own beds and make sure their rooms are tidied. If there is laundry in their baskets, they have to bring them down and toss it all in the washing machine. After breakfast, the dishwasher needs to be emptied and the garbage taken out, so they all pitch in to help with that. Then they need to pack up their bags and brush their teeth.
Once all of that is done, they are free to have some playtime before school. And while they still sometimes complain about having to do those chores, everything and everyone functions better with a little structure and responsibility.
4. Get fruits and veggies in with breakfast
With busy lives, it can be tough to ensure that the kids are always getting the right amount of fruits and veggies that their growing bodies need. Even though I send them with packed fruits and vegetables for school, I can’t always ensure that they get eaten.
In our home, we love SunRype Fruit Plus Veggies 100 percent Juices. Our go-to flavour is strawberry banana, which has no sugar added and counts as two servings of fruits and veggies per 250 ml. While it’s never been tough for me to get my kids to eat fruit, veggies are a whole other story – especially for my boys. Knowing that these juices contain carrots, celery, lettuce, beets and more is so reassuring for this concerned momma who wants to make sure her kids get the best nutrition.
5. Make lunches the night before
The final hack that helps make our school mornings flow smoothly is making the kids lunches the night before. Making lunches five days a week for three kids is a lot of work and preparing sandwiches and wrapping up snacks is not what I want to be doing first thing in the morning. To avoid this, we now pack the kids’ lunches after dinner before we move on to other activities for the night. Doing this gives us that extra time together as a family and lets us bond over choosing favourite snacks to include. Once lunches are packed, we toss them into the fridge and they are ready to go into their backpacks in the morning! As my mom used to say when I was younger, “No fuss, no muss!”
There you have it: five hacks that have helped our family make school mornings easier. It’s now time together that we all cherish, rather than dread! If your family is struggling to find a rhythm on school mornings, try implementing these tricks into your regular routine; I bet you will see a positive change, in the kids and maybe even in yourself!
Stay in touch
Subscribe to Today's Parent's daily newsletter for our best parenting news, tips, essays and recipes.