The slow, easy pace of summer is rapidly drawing to a close. Everyone tends to have mixed feelings about going back to school; the prospect of seeing friends, learning, and getting back into the regular routine are all enticing, but the loss of the magic of summer can be tough. How can we, as parents, make the switch easier on everyone (including ourselves)? By focusing on making our mornings run smoothly we set a positive tone for the rest of the day. Check out these 5 great time savers to make the sleepiest time of day just a little bit easier.
1. Meal Plan
Thinking ahead when it comes to meals is one of the most impactful steps you can take to start the day off right. Think quick and healthy breakfasts, lunches you can make days ahead of time, and ways to make dinner prep simple when everyone gets home after a long day.
Overnight Oats are a nutritious and simple option. Using the measurements listed on a container of steel cut oats, bring the water to a boil and cook for just 5 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and place the whole pot in the fridge overnight (perhaps with a potholder or trivet underneath). In the morning everyone can stir in their favorites: berries, apples, bananas, walnuts, honey, cinnamon - the possibilities are endless! The oatmeal keeps well in the fridge for a few days, so go ahead and make a big batch!
Not-So-Green Smoothies can be prepared several weeks in advance. Line up your freezer containers on the counter and distribute the following among them in whatever amounts you prefer: spinach, mixed frozen berries (these tend to turn the smoothie purplish), sliced apple, and banana (optional). In the morning, place the frozen contents in the blender, add some water, and blend until smooth.
Making lunches the night before might be one of the most helpful things you can do for your morning routine. Looking for more ways to simplify?
- Cut up an assortment of vegetables Sunday night that can be used throughout the week.
- Keep it simple - lunches don’t need to be fancy to be delicious!
- Sandwiches are key: find out what your kids like and keep it coming!
- Have older children help pack their own lunches.
Many families find that a little planning on the weekend makes the whole week feel easier. Ask your family for input, then decide what dinners you’d like to make throughout the week. Grocery shop on Saturday or Sunday and prep whatever you can before Monday (chopping vegetables, shredding cheese, etc.)
Does it ever seem like generating recipes is the most tedious step? Basic meal schedules can help. Having a basic plan with room for variation makes the whole process so much simpler. Use the following as inspiration:
Mondays: Pasta (pesto, ravioli, primavera…)
Tuesdays: Tacos (soft, crunchy, chicken, tofu…)
Wednesdays: Breakfast for dinner (pancakes, scrambled eggs, crepes…)
Fridays: Pizza (homemade or takeout!)
2. Check the Weather
This tip is quick and straightforward. Don’t get caught scrambling to find rain boots or sweatshirts on your way out the door. Having a general idea about predicted temperatures and precipitation is useful information to have when getting ready for the day ahead.
3. Getting Clothing in Order
As Montessori parents we like to give our children choices. It’s important for them to have a say in what they will wear to school, partly because it allows them to express their individuality, but also so they can practice learning what is appropriate for the season. Try having your child select and lay out their clothes the night before for a speedy morning routine. Better yet - lay out a week’s worth at a time! One easy way to organize this process is to buy small removable hooks (Command-style) and place them somewhere out of the way - like behind a bedroom door. Five hooks (with a hanger on each) can display five outfits, making getting ready for school fun and easy.
4. Establish a Routine
Create a morning routine and stick to it. This makes the days predictable for kids, which makes it easier for them to know what’s expected and to get things done. For example, your child could wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, put their lunch in their bag, and put on their shoes. By keeping steps the same and in the same order, the process (eventually) becomes second nature. Figure out what works for you, and then try not to vary it too much.
5. Create Reminders
We all need reminders when we’re getting used to a new routine or just because we’re tired. For older children it’s a simple as making a written list on a sticky note and hanging it somewhere noticeable like the bathroom mirror or refrigerator door. For younger kids it’s best to have a picture list. You don’t need to be an artist to sketch out simple images layered in an order that will serve as a reminder. Bonus: have your child color the pictures so they’re more attached and more likely to refer back to it.
May your transition back to school be joyful, peaceful, and an exciting time for everyone. See you soon!