Dreading the back-to-school run after the Christmas school holidays?
With children on school holidays for the past two to three weeks, the school run has been on the back burner. If you’re over the in fighting between your children, or the cost of keeping your children entertained, you’re probably welcoming the start of school in the next week. But are you looking forward to the school run?
If your answer is a resounding ‘No!’ then the following tips will help you stay sane on the school run in 2017 and beyond.
1. First and foremost, be prepared
Procrastination is a beast! I know working mums who have done all the washing, ironing and sorting already – they did it as usual at the end of the school term so that it was one less thing to think about come the first day back at school. In my house, everything was washed and folded away, which I am so thankful for, but the ironing will be done a day or two before the children go back to school, only because I like to check and double-check everything before school starts.
If you are behind that military-style schedule, once you’ve recovered from the New Year’s Eve celebrations, start getting organised. Give yourself a morning to plough through all the uniform washing, shoe cleaning and polishing finding lost items; from then, you can get smug and do all the relaxing you can fit in, safe in the knowledge that you won’t have that stress the night before, or the morning your child goes back to school or nursery.
Once school is back, it’s handy to get into a routine of preparing everything as far ahead as you can. Simple tips like:
1. packing all lunches the night before;
2. washing and ironing on Friday night or at the weekend – choose one morning or evening to blitz through everything, so you can get some rest and enjoy spending free time with the family;
3. pack your handbag the night before, so you’r not looking for keys or important bits and bobs in the morning rush;
4. hang keys in one place that you can remember everyday, so that you know exactly where they are
2. Set your alarm clock 10-15 minutes earlier
Five minutes early won;t always give you enough time if you drop the ball and fall behind schedule a bit, so setting your alarm clock ten to 15 minutes early will help you stay on track even if you’re running a bit late.
Try not to convince yourself to slow down because you know your alarm clock runs fast – and don’t press the snooze button. If need be, go to bed 10-15 minutes earlier to make up for the time difference.
This extra time will give you a chance to wake up and start getting ready before the rest of the household, which will give you more time (and patience) to oversee everyone else’s progress.
3. Keep breakfast simple, but healthy
While it may be tempting to put on a full spread for breakfast, how much of that gets thrown out because it’s either not eaten or there isn’t enough time to eat it? Cereal, toast with a spread and some orange juice should be enough to get the household going – and it’s much more healthier than fried sausages ad bacon. Save that for the weekend, when you have more time or want to ‘treat’ the family to a hearty breakfast.
If you feel that you just don’t have the time for breakfast, or it’s a bit too early to eat breakfast, try keeping bananas (and other easy to eat fruit) and vitamin-fortified cereal bars handy in the car or your handbag ready to grab and go.
Smoothies and juices are another great way to pack in the vitamins and nutrients for all the family. We recently got sent an electrical juice extractor by Stellar, and it’s fantastic for juicing. My go-to juice is a concoction of carrots, ginger and cucumbers with one green or red apple. It is everything in the morning! My children love it, and the ginger gives it an amazing kick that helps me to really wake up and get invigorated for the day ahead. You can get some more inspiration from juice king Joe Cross’s book ‘The Reboot Juice Diet’, available from Lakeland. There’s something in it for every palate. An alternative is the Lakeland Power Blender, which can make smoothies and be used for general blending. Lakeland’s ‘Oaty Breakfast Smoothie’ recipe is scrumptious and very filling.
4. Get into a routine and stick to it
While being a Stafford wife might have a negative connotation, they get things done! That’s what I love about American mothers – they really are hot on routines, and they seem to get so moocher done.
Sticking with a schedule will make it easier to effectively manage that Monday morning balancing act. your children will also know what’s expected of them at any given time during the morning rush, and it will help keep everyone on track to a seamless morning.
If you wan to really et your family organised in the morning, divide your morning into phases, for example, phase 1: eat breakfast; phase 2: get dressed, etc. Give each phase 15-30 minute time increments so that everyone keeps moving. Once everyone has finished their phase, there will be time to help another family member finish there’s – so older children can help younger siblings to get dressed, for example, if they’ve finished theres.
5. Tweak until there’s the right balance
For some of you, some of these tips will be everything you’ve needed, but some may have a routine going and may just apply one or two tips to get into a seamless and stress-free schedule. The key to achieving any balance, especially that morning-rush balance, is being prepared. Just keep tweaking your routine until you find one that works for your family.
Founder and editor of www.motherswhowork.co.uk, a mother of two wonderful children, wife, entrepreneur (check out www.geekschool.co.uk) and journalist.