Back to School Morning Routines to Save Your Sanity - Small Legacies

Back to School Morning Routines to Save Your Sanity

If you are like me, this first week of school sort of crept up on us. It was a long time coming and then all of the sudden summer is over and we don’t even have long pants that fit the kids. 

I want to start out by saying that I am a rookie when it comes to school routines. My kids are still very young, with my oldest, Shane, just starting 4K this year. With that said, I feel like it would be a missed opportunity not to start a conversation about school routines as we are all starting our new school year. 

Although I am still new to the entire back-to-school process in some ways, I know my last few years of experience getting the kids out of the house has taught me some valuable tricks. My kids are pretty close in age. They are 4, 2, and 4 months old. For me, that means that I need to actively help each one in some way or another. 

As you saw in my previous post 5 Things to Teach Your Children, I am actively working to foster independence in my kids. But it's a work in progress. For now, I am still needed as part of the hands-on process of them getting out the door in the morning. 

So here is what works for me, when we need to get out the door at 7AM. Here are 3 Back to School Routines to Save Your Sanity. 

First Things First: Set AM Screen Time Restrictions. 

We have a very set routine when it comes to morning screen time. Ours is probably way more strict than most, but on weekdays, we have chosen not to do any screen time in the morning. Then on weekends we enjoy two full episodes of cartoons together in the morning. 

Every Sunday we drive to our hometown to spend the day with family. It’s about an hour long drive so we always need to be on the road by 8am. That means when we wake up, we only have time to watch 2 shows. (Usually PJ Masks, Lion Guard, or the 3 Caballeros on Disney.) 

When those 2 episodes are done. We are DONE. Obviously the kids ask for more, but if we want to get out of the house on time, we need that clear rule. We don’t wait for the kids to turn the tv off. In fact, we don’t even ask that of them. We make sure we are standing right there as the end credits roll so we can turn it off ourselves. 

For the last few years that has worked really well for us. As soon as that second episode is done, we kick it in gear and get dressed and ready for the day. 

Second: Know where your stuff is. 

I am not a tidy person. In fact, unless I have a specific spot for something I will lose it a million times over and over. Because I know I’m disorganized, I’ve HAD to create a set system for coats, bags, and shoes. 

We use a cubby system so that everyone has a specific spot to put their backpack, coat and shoes. It’s right by the door so everyone can do the traditional move of just dropping everything right inside the door. We just strictly enforce that they need to drop it in their cubby. They don’t even have to hang it up, as long as it’s in their spot. 

I’m honestly probably the worst at putting my shoes away. I’m thinking it’s because I am the one always going in and out a ton of times; whereas the kids just come in, take off their shoes and are done. Please tell me if this is you too.  First I help the kids in, then unload things from the car, then get the mail…and so on. 

Anyway, all of this is to say that we have a set assigned spot for everyone. This makes it much easier in the morning for us to just grab our things and go. 

Third: Give Yourself Extra Time

I am not a morning person. However, when I know we have places to be and things to do, I make the choice to wake up extra early. I used to be able to roll out of bed and be out of the house in 15 minutes. Now, I need an hour and 15 minutes. No matter how simple the schedule for the day is, I know I need that time. 

I need to get breakfast going, I need to get myself ready, I need to nurse the baby and help the boys get ready, and I need to pack up the car. Even though I am teaching my kids independence, it takes time. In fact, at this stage in our lives letting them get ready on their own takes much longer than if I just helped them. 

And so,  every morning I sit with my 2 year old while he takes 5 minutes to use the toilet and put on a pair of pants. I sit and watch as my 4 year old Shane carefully chooses his outfit. (If I don’t he inevitably wears sweatpants and a hoodie on a 100 degree day). I nurse the baby while the family eats breakfast. It’s a long and involved process. 

On the days where we watch shows and need to be out of the house by 8am, we wake up at 6. That gives us one hour for TV and breakfast, and an entire hour to get ready. 

Although these 3 tips I’ve given you may seem simple, trust me. They will make ALL the difference by taking some of the stress out of that morning school routine. I’m not going to lie. I still get overwhelmed some mornings, but not every morning. And that’s all I can ask for. 


So how about you? What tips would you add to this list? What helps you get out of the house in the morning? 

Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

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