Start of preschool can be quite a challenge for many parents. Child usually needs to get there on time, so even if your working hours are flexible, your little one’s starting time is fixed. Time is tight and you might get into trouble getting everything ready. Especially if your little princess takes ages to complete every single task.
I searched through dozens of mums experiences and collected best and most frequent advices how to speed things up in the morning to get to school (and work) on time. Take your time to think about each point and try to figure out what would work best for your child. Sometimes it only takes one simple change to achieve great result. Sometimes it’s a long run with many trials and falls before you get there. Remember, whatever your child is doing, he’ll grow out of it eventually. Just be patient.
1. Prepare the night before
Good preparation the night before. This is certainly an advice number one and the golden key to smooth mornings. Do as much preparation as you can the night before.
- Prepare the lunchbox – it should be in the fridge ready to grab & go.
- Prepare their school bag and check it twice – make sure kids don’t take anything out of it once it’s done and checked.
- Pile up the clothes to wear the next day – this is a very good point if you have a picky princess who takes ages to decide what to wear. You can have all the long discussion about what is and what isn’t appropriate according to the weather and occasion the evening before, it will save you more than just a few minutes the next morning. Let her choose the hairband and hair clips too and put in on the top of the piled clothes.
Right music or their favourite song can help them wake up in the morning. It will give you more energy and better mood. Pick something catchy you all like and can sing on the way to school too.
3. Egg timer + reward charts
Explain your child that you only have limited time to complete each task in the morning and set an egg timer to few minutes every time. If he completes the task before the timer rings, he’ll get a sticker on the reward chart. Tell them how much time they have, e.g. 3 mins toilet, 5 mins washing hands, face & brushing teeth, 20 mins breakfast etc.
4. Going to bed and getting up earlier
Not getting enough sleep can make you grumpy, imagine how bad it must be for a little child. Ideally, child should be able to wake up on his own in the morning, maybe with just a little help of a great song playing in the background. Kids under 7 need 11 or 12 hours of sleep a day. If they’re not taking a nap during a day, they need to get it all during night. Again I say, mum knows the best – every child is different and you can easily see if they’re getting enough sleep, they should be full of energy and happy most of the day. Evenings should be smoothly going too, they won’t be willing to cooperate with you if they’re over-tired.
5. Picture chart with things to do, reward stickers, let them tick it off
Little children, especially preschoolers love visual aids. Placing a big picture chart and letting them tick off completed tasks will help them feel proud of themselves. You can reward them with stickers for smooth mornings and they can get a treat for 5 or 10 stickers collected. Having a chart with all the morning tasks clearly displayed can help a lot on its own, even without giving stickers. Great idea is ticking tasks with erasable marker. You can erase it and mark it again the next day.
6. Simple choices – breakfast, what to wear…
Let your child decide on simple things, it will make her feel more in charge and she might want to cooperate more. Just make sure, YOU are creating the choices for her and it’s always 2 or 3 things max to choose from. Would you like to have cereals or porridge for breakfast today? Do you prefer blue or grey mittens to wear today?
7. Rewards if everything goes smoothly
Rewards, rewards and again rewards. They go a long way, much longer than punishment or threats. Of course, it doesn’t mean your child shouldn’t do anything without a reward. Not at all. Rewards will stop working if overused anyway. Use them to help your child to learn important things, to emphasize the importance of doing thing the right way. Stop rewarding and use verbal praise only going forward once they’ve learned the skill.
8. Give them more time – some children need it
Maybe your child is just a little bit slower, she needs more time to get up and do things. Make sure she doesn’t feel under pressure in the morning. Even if it means getting up earlier than you’d prefer. Having happy mornings is definitely worth it.
Even though I’m not a great fan of TV, especially in the mornings, many mums find it very helpful. It will take your child’s mind off unpopular things like brushing hair and there will be less fuss in the morning.
10. Move tasks like breakfast to the car
If you’re going by car, try to make the most of the time spent in the car too. They can have their breakfast in the car and if they’re able to brush their hair by themselves, great, they can do it on the way too. Or maybe just zipping their jacket or tying their shoes. Every minute counts, right?
11. Change the order of tasks
Sometimes kids get bored by doing same things over and over again. Moving tasks around a bit can bright up their morning. It can help them concentrate more on what they’re doing too. This point won’t work on children who love their routine and feel nervous if things aren’t going as expected.
12. Have a backup plan
No matter what you do, it can always happen that things are not going as planned or you oversleep. Therefore you need a good backup plan like quick snacks for breakfast always ready in the cupboard, few coins to buy lunch on the way or chewing gum in a pocket if it’s a real emergency and you don’t get to brush your teeth before you leave.