School started this week for my kids. It is bittersweet. Woohoo! For 3 hours I don’t have to worry when it is too quiet, sort out squabbles, or pay attention to anything but my own work. Dang! Now we have to get up at the same time five days in a row, brush hair, pack lunches, and wear clothes other than bathing suits.
I am so happy to have my time back, but I have to acknowledge that keeping my kids organized when I struggle myself is daunting. Parenting with ADD/ADHD can be difficult. It is enough most mornings to get myself out the door, on time with everything I need. When you add walking and feeding the dogs, and two little people that have to be reminded to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and hair to the mix, and I am overwhelmed at times
After arriving at school, one more than one morning, with no one’s hair brushed, including mine, I decided I needed a checklist, and a schedule for the mornings. I created a routine and started preparing as much as I could the night before. As a parent, I really want to help my kids learn good habits for getting out of the house in the morning. These are my top five survival strategies for back to school.
1. Use scrap paper and make a morning checklist. Tape to to your coffee pot, or tea cup. For a more permanent solution use a write on-wipe off, or chalk board. Hang it on door that you go out in the morning. Nothing is too trivial, create little check boxes for hair, teeth, clothes, lunches, backpack, and anything special you need to remember.
2. Layout your clothes the night before. Get the kids to lay out their clothes. This avoids the last minute “I can’t decide what to wear” moments that can really derail the morning schedule.
3. Schedule times for breakfast, showers, clothes on, teeth brushed, and out the door. Be flexible, and always allow more time that you think it will take. Set a timer to go off ten minutes before you have to leave, this allows time for everyone to make sure that they are ready to go. This really helps if everyone has to leave at the same time. If you have staggered schedules for your kids set the timer accordingly.
4. Set up a family calendar. Use it. Commit to looking at it before you go to bed, and in the morning, after a caffeinated beverage of your choice.
5. Give yourself enough time in the morning. Do not be unrealistic about how long it takes to get everyone ready, and out the door. I have dogs that have never slept past 6:30. I depend on them to wake us up, and I never set an alarm clock. If you lack furry alarm clocks, or if your dog/cat is unreliable, be sure to set an alarm. Get up when it goes off. Ban the snooze button, it is so not worth the stress of rushing around.
Breathe. Expect the first month of school to be chaos. Work with what you have, and make changes little by little. Bonus Tip: Always make sure that you have a comb in your car in case you still forget to comb hair.