It’s that time of year again! Yellow buses dot the highways and first day jitters are over, so how will the rest of the year go? Time management experts suggest that if we take the first two weeks of the school year and get a routine in place that accommodates the needs of everyone, then the rest of the year will go much smoother. I have shared some of these tips before and had good responses from you that they really work. Think about it… if you are willing to put some into practice, they may make your mornings run a little smoother:
- Set your clocks ahead, just 5 or 10 minutes may be all you need to keep you on task and on time. If there are several people waiting for the bathroom, make a schedule and everyone gets 10 or 15 minutes. Use a timer to stick to the schedule and rotate so that everyone takes turns who gets up first.
- Lay out clothing for everyone the night before, including socks and shoes. No more last minute searches for the favorite tennis shoe. Have a time schedule posted so that children know how much time they have to get ready, and when breakfast will be ready. Use a timer to keep them moving.
- Have a box or basket near the door for each child to have everything they need to take in the morning. Things such as books, lunch money, hat, gloves, sports gear, etc. can be ready to grab and run. If items are not available (in the washer) make a note and stick it to the box so it can be retrieved before heading out the door. This is a great idea for parents to have their briefcase or purse, keys, lunch, etc. in the area so you are ready also. Once they are in the habit the mornings will go much smoother.
- Start going to bed earlier. It may take a few weeks to get your body used to going to bed an hour or so earlier, but you'll find it easier to get up in the morning. Talk about why they are tired in the morning if there’s resistance at night, and they might find out on their own, they need more rest.
- If you go to bed earlier, it will be easier to get up earlier. Plan to get up at least 30 minutes before your children so that you can be ready to face the day before they get up.
- Make time for breakfast, it's the most important meal of the day. Set the table the night before, set the cereal boxes out so you'll be ready when they are. If you must eat on the run, choose nutritious foods, such as fruits, cheese and crackers, whole grain muffins or bagels, or even a sandwich.
- Prepare lunches the night before or along with breakfast. Make sure to include whole grains, fruits and vegetables in the menu. Place the note beside the door to not forget the lunchbox.
Make a quick check list of things they are to do before they leave their room (such as make the bed, feed the hamster and pick up clothes) and another one, beside the door before they leave the house, of all the things they are to take with them. Before long you can take the list down because it's become part of their "habit" and when they have a routine, hopefully, so will you.
Not only are you building a routine for the year, but teaching skills for life in taking responsibility for the things you need to accomplish throughout your day. Being responsible and timely are two traits that are commendable in the school and work environment. Remember, look for the good things at the end of each day, make changes for the things that didn’t work and before long your routine will help your day go smoothly!
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.