For many parents the start of September brings a sigh of relief, the end of the summer holidays and the start of a new school term. While I love spending time with my children over the holidays, it also plays havoc with running a business, especially when I love my job, so September is a time to get my life back into some routine and normality.
Mornings can be stressful in any household. There are so many distractions for children including the TV, playing with toys and not wanting to get dressed or clean their teeth, and that’s before they even start thinking about putting shoes and coats on. Every parent’s worst nightmare is the dreaded last minute ‘I need the loo’ or toothpaste down the front of a jumper.
Nobody wants to start the day in a bad mood. We want to see our children at the school gates with a smile.
A child’s attention may diminish as the day goes on due to other children, teachers or lessons that they don’t like, so the happier they are at the start of the school day can make a huge difference.
Seeing them happy will leave you feeling happier too. My youngest started reception class this year and my eldest has moved to juniors, so I thought I’d share my tops tips to help you have the best start to your day.
Be Prepared - Get whatever you can ready the night before: packed lunches, water bottles, uniforms if they have to wear them!
Check Their School Bag - Check it every night for reading books, homework and letters home about trips. Most schools send home a newsletter with details of term dates, closures and days when there are special events.
Use a Calendar - Write down school dates, trips, homework days etc in your diary, family calendar or set reminders in your phone. You don’t want your child being the only one turning up to school in their uniform on a non-uniform day! (I did this last year and forgot a teddy bear for a teddy bears’ picnic! I felt awful)
No TV – It is a massive distraction. If you want to let them watch TV then make sure everything is ready first; breakfast, teeth cleaned and bags packed.
Involve Your Children - If your children are older ask what they think are the solutions to a happier morning routine. You might be surprised with what they come up with and it might make them more likely to take responsibility to get their things ready.
Leave Earlier – aim to leave five or 10 minutes earlier than planned if you know that the last part of getting out of the house is the hardest.
Park and Walk - If parking is a nightmare near your school, then park further away and walk the last bit. It removes a potentially stressful situation if you’re running late.
Be Available - Sort out your own things, get ready yourself and then you can help your child and children with their coats, shoes, book bags etc. Remember, you are the parent, the role model. My children are up between 6.30 and 7am and we don’t start school until 8.45am, I’m usually the one trying to fit in hanging the washing out, loading my work things into the car, checking my emails and Facebook and it’s me that can make us late, I then get stressed and that doesn’t help the kids.
Have Fun - Depending on the length of your journey to school, make up some fun games. If you’re walking then try spotting numbers in order, or each pick a colour and see how many cars you count of that colour. When I was a child, we played a game where we shouted ‘Mini’ every time we saw a Mini. If you’re walking then make up some games on the way. We play how many bees, snails and dog dirt we see on the way to school, good for counting and if they are looking for poo they are less likely to tread in it!
There will be days when things don’t go to plan, we are all human after all. You might forget to pack something they need, you’re late, get caught in the rain and everyone is grumpy. We are human and children need to realise this too. If a disaster was your fault and you said things you didn’t mean then apologise after school. Modelling good behavior and apologising, without justifying your behavior, is a real skill and helps children’s emotional intelligence.
If all else fails and you still find yourself saying ‘Put on your shoes’ for the umpteenth time then try singing in an opera voice. It sounds less threatening as you sing ‘I really need you to put on your shoes right now or we are going to be late for school’. Try it and see!
If you have any other suggestions pop over to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thebeststart and let us know your top tips.