Manage hectic school mornings

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camden chronicle

Dear Pamela,

We are having the hardest time getting our three children to three different schools without one being late. Then when one is late, they have to go to the office and eventually get reprimanded. What does one do when they have several children at different schools?

Signed,
Tired Parent

Dear Tired Parent,

If a typical school morning sees your family rushing around and out the door with nary a moment to spare, only to be left feeling like you ran a marathon by 9 a.m., a new approach to your routine might be necessary. Mornings, especially in households in which parents who work outside of the home and have one or two kids requiring drop-off at their respective schools, can often be hectic. Starting off the morning feeling harried and stressed can carry over into the mood of the day, affecting productivity as a result.

According to Dr. David Anderson, PhD, senior director of the ADHD and Disruptive Behavior Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute, busy mornings can be the most stressful moments of the day. Homework hour and getting prepared for bed are other typically stressful times of the day for families. If less stressful mornings are a goal for your family, try doing as much preparatory work the evening before can make quite a difference in taming hectic mornings. Things that can be done in advance include checking and stocking backpacks, signing paperwork, making lunches, setting out clothing, showering, and having breakfast foods ready to go.

Ann Dolin, a Virginia-based education specialist, suggests having a launch pad, or a place where all school-related items are prepped and stored. It can be a basket, box or another container big enough to contain school items. Children can drop and pick up the items as needed.

Parenting Solutions founder Amy McCready says families can implement a “when-then” routine that sets the tone for the morning. “When everyone is dressed, hair combed, breakfast eaten, and school supplies packed, then you can watch 10 minutes of an educational cartoon,” she explained. “This puts the routine in control rather than making the parents the bad guys.”

Too often parents add more stress to their plates by showing up at school with forgotten lunch boxes or band instruments. Instead, parents can stop rescuing their children and help train them to be more responsible — an essential trait. Also use, chart wake-up times.

It may seem like micromanaging, but scheduling wake-up and bathroom times can help everyone know where they should be and when they should be there. It also helps avoid bottleneck situations in the bathroom or kitchen.

These are some tips that can really take the stress out of morning routines.

All the best,
Pamela

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