It's mid August, and many of us are thinking about school starting in a few days or weeks. For some of us, it might be the first time our child is going to school, or we might be seasoned parents who have put our kids on the school bus before.
Either way, the first day of school leaves everyone with butterflies in their stomachs.
I remember those feelings all too well. I always loved school, I was a good student, yet I was always a bundle of nerves on that first bus ride and during the first day of school. Who isn't? When my kids were growing up, I wanted them to understand that being anxious about starting something new, like school, camp, or any activity, is normal.
There are ways we can help our children feel less anxious and more excited about starting school. For one, let's work on a morning routine that can make our mornings less chaotic.
We can also work on our bedtime and night time routines so that everyone is well rested and ready for school success!
Involve your child in developing your routine. Talk about the different steps that need to be done to get out the door on time
Create a checklist together and hang it up where your child can easily see it.
If time allows, start practicing your routine about a week before school starts so your child gets accustomed to each step. Or, implement your routine right away and use each day as practice until it becomes natural to everyone.
Use your checklist/chart to help your child get ready in the morning.
Ask him what needs to be done after he brushes his teeth.
He can look at his chart, see that it's time to get dressed.
By allowing him to make these decisions, you are giving your child a sense of control and responsibility. You will find he will be more cooperative than if you are telling him what to do and when to do it.
Start the day with some 1 on 1 Time
Rather than starting the day with chaos, yelling, and rushing around, try starting with a few minutes of one-on-one time with your child. A quick cuddle or short story first thing in the morning can make a huge difference between a morning of resistance and a morning of cooperation. Who wouldn't want to start their day from a place of serenity and connection?
You are letting your child feel their importance, and their place, in the family, and to you. You are showing them that you have no where else to be, except right there with them, in this moment. You will see that your child feels the connection, and will be ready to face the day in a more positive light.
Tip: Try to limit screen time in the morning. It is difficult for kids to transition from the screen (tv show or game) to the next step of your morning routine, especially putting on shoes and leaving the house if the show/game isn't finished. Encourage them to read a book or play with some toys instead. They can even take the book/toy with them if they're not done.
When your child follows his routine and completes tasks on his own, it's important to recognize that and acknowledge it. How good will your child feel when you say:
"You got dressed all by yourself when you woke up. That saves so much time in the morning!"
Be mindful that this routine is part of the family's daily tasks, so acknowledging and appreciating their efforts is what you need to focus on in order to continue to get everyone out the door on time.
Routines help children learn how to prioritize what needs to be done and when. This will help them become more independent and should decrease the ongoing morning power struggles.
Fall is approaching (quickly!), so now is the time to help your child establish a comfortable back to school morning routine. He will be well on the road for a successful school year and you will have peace of mind knowing that your mornings ahead will be less chaotic and hopefully stress-free.
If you have any questions or want to chat about your morning, after school, or bedtime routine, call, text, or DM at any time!