Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with El Monterey and Ruiz Foods. The opinions in this post are my own.
Back to school can be a really tough transition for both kids and their parents. Getting kids on a morning routine can help a lot. My kids (twins age 8, plus an 11-year-old) and I spent some time creating charts to help us all stay on track for this coming week as they head back to school.
Let Kids Set the Routine
The girls brainstormed all the tasks that need to be done each morning, and they got to type up the routine and create the signs themselves. We used PowerPoint, and they had a great time trying out different fonts and choosing clip art. By doing it themselves (with a little coaching from me), they're more likely to invest in the routine and be motivated to do it.
My son has early morning swim practice several times a week, so his morning routine is different on those days. He made a sign listing all the equipment he needs to pack–googles, fins, water bottle, etc.–and does a lot of the girls' morning routine tasks the night before.
Make it Visual
We printed a sign for each child, slid it into a page protector, and put them in the dining room with a dry erase marker for checking off tasks as they're done. Many kids do better with a visual reminder of what needs to get done (and many adults–like me!). With younger kids, you could use pictures or photos instead of words.
Yes, it's a lot faster if I pack their backpacks and do their hair, but kids of all ages need to learn to do their own self-care and grooming, be responsible for their items, and help around the house. Having a morning routine is a great way to encourage independence (and lighten your own load). My role in the mornings is encouraging them to to stay on task, manage their time, and get out the door to the bus on time. As for those 5:30 mornings, my son and I are quite bleary-eyed before practice, so I keep easy breakfasts like El Monterey Breakfast Burritos on hand for him to prep on his own. All he has to do is open one and microwave it, add a cup of milk and some fruit, and it's a hearty, protein-rich breakfast to help him start the day.
El Monterey sent us all three varieties of Breakfast Burritos to try: Egg & Sausage, Egg & Bacon, and Jalapeno, Egg & Cheese. My kids and I found the Jalapeno a little too spicy, but my husband really likes them. They make a great afterschool snack as well.
Make it Doable
Most of the tasks on these charts are ones my kids can already do independently, with a few that are new skills for the new school year. I want my kids to get their own breakfasts this year, and as the year progresses, we'll get to them making their own lunches as well. We can revise the charts to reflect these new responsibilities then.
We went ahead and make an Afterschool Routine as well. This includes unpacking the lunchbox, getting a snack and drink, and starting on homework. This is especially helpful since I have kids coming home at two different times in the afternoon, so after one is done with homework and heading outside to play, the others are just sitting down to eat a snack and start on homework.
As a busy mom, it's really hard to be consistent with my kids, whether it's with discipline or routines. But if you expect the kids to take this seriously on the days that matter, you need to stick with it. The novelty of the first weeks of school will wear off soon enough, just in time for homework to be forgotten at home and for the whole crew to miss the bus (gee, how would I know?). Since I expect them to stick with the routine on weekdays, we can let it go on the weekends. On a Monday holiday or teacher workday, a “pajama day” is declared, and we all get to laze around, watching movies, reading and cuddling instead of sticking to the routine.
El Monterey wants to help your family during the busy times before and after school. Four lucky MoneywiseMoms readers will each win 4 packages of El Monterey Burritos or Chimichangas (via coupon). If you’re reading this in an email subscription, click over to the blog to use the Rafflecopter and enter. There are lots of ways to enter–be sure and click on each option!