Game Changer: How to Get Kids Ready for School Without Yelling

A mom of five shares how she handles the morning shuffle without losing her mind.

“Would you hurry up already?”

Yes, that’s been me, more times than I’d like to admit. Usually around 7:55 AM, five minutes before my kids have to leave for the bus, when one of them is still walking around looking for his math homework. Wearing one sock.

Still, an occasional bit of nagging is better than my old M.O., which looked more like a full-on meltdown every morning as I tried to beg, cajole, and threaten my kids out the door (and half the time they still left without their backpacks.)

It’s normal to get stressed during school mornings, but over the years -- and by going through the routine over and over with multiple kids -- I’ve learned how to stay (mostly) calm and collected from the time I roll out of bed until I slam -- er, gently shut -- the door behind the kids.

Here are some ideas I’ve picked up along the way:

Stick to a routine. Fuzzy-brained kids (and moms) are not great at improvising. Create a school morning routine so that everyone knows what to expect. In our house, kids get dressed -- all the way to shoes -- before eating breakfast, so that afterward they can just brush their teeth and go. If we ever mess up the routine it sets us back.

Play to your strengths. You know how some people work best under the pressure of a looming deadline, while others need lots of time to plan and think? Same goes for the morning rush. I fall into the former camp, so contrary to popular advice, I don’t get my kids up super-early to let them ease into the day…instead, I purposely limit the allotted time to exactly what they need to get dressed, eat, brush teeth, get on their gear and get out the door (for us, about 25 minutes).

I stay on my feet moving and directing, which is what I do best, and they stay in motion until they’re on their way. When I get the kids up too early, on the other hand, I lose track of time, they somehow lose track of their shoes or get lost in their bedrooms, and the whole thing falls apart.

Maybe you’re the opposite and need lots of time in the morning to function well. Keep an open mind, and experiment with a few different strategies to see which works best for you.

Breathe and look for perspective. Sometimes, when mornings get crazy, I…well, I get kind of crazy, too. My heart races, my blood pressure rises, and I start blowing that forgotten lunch box or missed reading-log signature way out of proportion.

It sounds simplistic, but it helps me to simply take a few deep breaths and ask myself, “What’s the worst that could happen if….?” Most of the time there’s a relatively simple solution.

For example, I could drop off the lunch box later, or my son could have hot lunch today. And so far as I know, no child has ever failed to get into college because he lacked a signature on his second-grade reading report.

Reward yourself. I used to try to eat my breakfast and drink my morning tea alongside my kids, but I realized I was rushing, and not really enjoying it.

Now I sit and chat with the kids while they eat, manage the rest of the send-off, and then enjoy my tea and toast. It gives me something to look forward to while getting them out the door, and there’s nothing like sipping that cup of tea in a totally quiet house.

iVillage Back to School Community Challenge Coach Meagan Francis is a mom of five, blogger, and author. She writes about the art of sane & satisfying family life The Happiest Home. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Read more from our coaches:

Makeover Breakfast Before School! 8 Ridiculously Delicious Recipes
The School Mistakes Even Smart Moms Make
On Time for School! Here's How to Never Be Late

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