Next week, my daughter starts 1st grade. She'll be going to a new school and our whole morning routine is about to shift about an hour earlier than we're used to. So this morning we did a "dry run." We all woke up early and got a move on. I'm happy to report that we were out the door at 7:30! We arrived at her school at 8:00am, a full 15 minutes before school will begin. Phew.
As a parent, I feel guilty when mornings are hectic. Sometimes they are insane. I know that there are things that I can do to make the process a bit easier but at the same time, sometimes it's all I can do just to keep sane and make sure the basics are taken care of (teeth brushed, kids dressed and fed, lunch packed and ready to go). Other mornings I'm somehow able to fit in an extra cup of coffee and catch up on email.
Here are some tips that always help make mornings smoother over here – they don't magically transport me to Never Never Land but when you're talking about getting kids out of the house in the morning, every minute counts.
- Cut fruit and veggies in advance. I go to the grocery store usually just once a week. My kids plan their lunches with LaLa Lunchbox so it's never a surprise what fruit or veggie they want during the week. About two or three times per week I bust out the cutting board, chop and pack. My fridge is then packed with containers of ready-to-go cantaloupe, strawberries, mango, oranges, carrots and celery. In the mornings before school, there's no cutting boards or knives needed. Less morning cleanup makes for less stress. Added bonus: my husband and I eat more produce because it's easily accessible.
- Package what you can in advance. Whether you use the reusable baggies (we love Lunchskins) , plastic containers (we love Easy Lunchboxes) or plastic baggies, there are some things that can be prepped in advance. By putting pretzels , crackers, cookies and the like in ready-to-go bags, it's easy to grab and go.
- If leftovers are for lunch, package it the night before. Giving your child last night's lasagne for lunch today? Put aside his portion when you clean up from dinner.
- Fill reusable water bottles and place in fridge the night before. Place next to your containers of cut produce so that you don't forget to pack it.
Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. The start of a new school year can be stressful. May the force be with you.