One of my favorite things about Jack being out of school for summer is that I can ease up on the morning grind. I am definitely more go-with-the-flow when it comes to … everything, because he doesn’t need to be at the bus stop at 7:30 a.m. Catching lighting bugs at 10 p.m. with an ice pop stained mouth is a rite of passage, right? Bedtime out the window! Sleep in kiddo. But all good things must come to an end as the new school year approaches and I send my little first grader off. Here are my tried-and-true tricks for getting back into a seamless morning routine.
1. Gradually reel in bedtime. Since Jack has been staying up well past his bedtime of 8 p.m. and sleeping later as a result, I plan to reboot his little alarm clock by tucking him in 10 minutes earlier each night during the two weeks leading up to school. Instead of 9 p.m., he’ll go to bed at 8:50 and the next day 8:40 and so on … This will mean he’ll be rested and ready to start his day at 6:45 a.m. —not snooze until 7:30 and then lounge on the couch watching cartoons.
2. Put an end to grazing. My son is a super healthy eater and I am very thankful for that, but this past summer has thrown off our eating schedule. There’s no rush to make eggs or pour cereal in the morning. If Jack wants to play or watch cartoons I let him and an hour later, he’ll ask for eggs like he’s out at a diner. Sometimes he’ll have a yogurt smoothie and grapes, skipping a big meal altogether because we’ll have an earlier lunch. I’m going to let him pick out some healthy go-to quick breakfast foods at the supermarket: Blueberry mini muffins, reduced-sugar juice boxes, waffles, whole-grain cereal, fruit, and bars. I need him back in the habit of choosing his meal and eating at the table at a specific time.
3. Go back-to-school clothes shopping together. Jack has been living in bathing suits, comfy shorts, and T-shirts all summer. He just grabs whatever he feels like wearing from his drawer (sometimes it matches, sometimes not). Come September he’ll need to be a little neater about choosing his clothes. So I’m letting Jack pick out new clothes and organize them in his closet and drawers. (He’ll get into it since wearing a cool green Hulk shirt is the equivalent of a little girl wearing glittery sneakers that light up.) As a fun game, I’m going to have him make and set aside five outfits for the first week so there’s no confusion in the morning, like me, ripping through a pile of clothes in the dryer because he NEEDS his Yankee shirt. Going forward, he can choose his outfit at nighttime and leave it on the chair in his bedroom.
4. Get back into a regular bath time schedule. Don’t get me wrong, the kid always bathes, but there have been a few late nights where I’ll let him brush his teeth and wash up quickly in the sink—or I’ll count swimming in the pool all day like a giant bath, hehe. They’ll be no time for him to shower in the morning because I know the speed at which my little guy moves, so nightly showers will commence again.
5. Organize school essentials the night before. Every night Jack and I go over the monthly lunch menu online. If the school lunch is something he likes, I allow him to buy. If not, I pack him a sandwich, fruit, snacks, and drinks. I pack everything at night, including homework and paperwork. The backpack gets stored in the mud room on the bench. His sneakers are in the basket and his hoody is on a hook he can reach. Having everything near the front door is like gravity pulling Jack to the bus stop. There is nothing worse than searching for a sneaker or fearing that the dog ate his homework.
What are some of your tips and tricks for a smooth morning school routine? Please share!