In 2015, I sent my daughter to VPK. It was her first time in preschool and I was due to have our second baby mid-way through her school year. I knew I needed to get very organized ahead of time so that there would be less confusion once the baby arrived. The extra time I spent on weekends or nights alleviated many problems typical of the school morning rush. That’s not to say we never experienced those mornings, but they were few and far between. And, lack of preparation typically wasn’t the cause for the rush.
Beat the school morning rush
Here’s how our family has organized for less school morning rush. I’ve employed these strategies for starting school with less stress when S entered VPK and carried them over for a seamless transition to Kindergarten. We’re even having to wake up earlier for her elementary school days.
Your goal should be to have as many grab-and-go items as possible. You won’t be disappointed with the results for the week. Plus, you might even find some extra time during the week for a little bit of mommy time.
At a bare minimum, meal plan at least a week in advance. If you have a hard time with this, try a meal planning website to get started until you’re comfortable doing it on your own.
You need to know what you will have on hand for breakfast and plan for several options unless you plan to feed the kids the same thing every day. Know what’s for dinner … well, that’s just what I do because I don’t want to hit the grocery store every day or resort to take-out. Plus, if you make enough for leftovers, you have lunch for yourself (or maybe the kids) taken care of for the following day. As for lunches, pick a little bit of everything and plan to incorporate fruits and veggies in lunches throughout the week.
Sunday Lunch Prep
This is one of my biggest time savers! Every Sunday, I give myself 30 minutes to an hour to prep as much of the 5 days of lunches as I can store in the fridge.
For starters, I cut fruits and veggies and divvy them up between the bento boxes. I even cut a bit extra to place in snack bags that can be easily grabbed for on the go healthy snacks. Once that’s done, I plan out a few of the main courses. My daughter loves Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches, so I make 1 on Sunday for Monday’s lunch.
For two other containers, I do an assortment of meats and add some sort of snack-sized cheese item. Usually, I do one pepperoni lunch and the other turkey and ham. It helps that my child isn’t much into sandwiches. You could roll the meats around some cheese if you like. I don’t get fancy … just toss some meat and cheese in and they’re done.
This leaves two boxes with main items to be decided on toward the end of the week. You can take care of these later in the week during nightly prep, which I cover next.
P.S. – If you’d like some fun school lunch ideas, I’ve got more coming in the next couple weeks. AND, I’m sharing a few bonus fun school lunch ideas with my newsletter subscribers! Want yours? Sign up for my email newsletter for access to my free resource library, including a brand new printable school lunch ideas booklet. Of course, by signing up, you’ll also get the next emails with the other school lunch ideas as you prepare for back to school season.
Let’s start with the saying “early to bed, early to rise.” No joke, your children need plenty of sleep and you need time at night that they’re not up your butt. I’ll make a whole post about early bedtimes because it’s important in so many ways. But right now, let’s focus on the problem at hand.
Get the kids to bed at a reasonable hour, then do this night prep thing. And, you’re still going to have some time to take care of yourself.
Make it part of everyone’s bedtime routine to pick and set out their clothes for the next day. Mom, this means you, too. I can’t tell you how much time gets wasted in the morning selecting clothes. I mean, if you stayed up too late or had some extra wake-ups, morning selections through grogginess or irritability is a total bummer.
After the kids are in bed, put their water (or other drink of choice) in their container for the next day. Bonus points if you do prepare 2 or more containers. Now, set out any dishes and utensils you plan to use. Finally, if you need coffee, have your coffee maker filled with water and the basket ready with coffee. Have the pot or cup ready to just hit the button. Since I have a single cup coffee maker, sometimes I even put my sugar in the cup.
My final piece of advice is to pull the meat out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner. Just find a spot for it on a shelf in the fridge. One less thing to worry about in the morning.
School Morning Prep
This one is subjective to your family’s time needs. Now, I’ve been blessed with a husband who gets it and wakes up with the rest of us. He goes downstairs to help S with breakfast while I am busy nursing the baby and getting him dressed. And, he’s been known to help heat the water for my oatmeal. I give us right about an hour to get up, get dressed, and get out the door.
Build in a 10 or 15-minute buffer for when things don’t go as planned.
Everyone has a job
Your kids are able, so give them tasks. Even at 4, my daughter was able to get water from the fridge door. Plus, she feeds the dog before sitting down to breakfast. (Would you like some chore ideas? I have toddler chores and chores for 6 and 7 year olds.) If hubby is helping, he and any older kids can pour and serve cereal or oatmeal, or ration muffins. Whatever breakfast is, everyone should pitch in to help. If it’s just you, don’t be afraid of easy grab and go items, especially if you’re packing healthy lunches and cooking round meals at dinner. Everything in moderation, right?
Now, grab lunch for the day and insert snack and dry items. Put lunch box and drink in a tote or child’s backpack.
Again, I’m not one for making a major fuss over girly things, so I throw S’s hair tie, then have her put on socks and shoes.
Now we’ve beaten the school morning rush
We’re done with the morning, usually with 10 or 15 minutes to spare. That extra time might get eaten up in car drop off line, but S is usually at her door the moment they open up. And, none of us are feeling the typical school morning rush. We’re all in generally good spirits, except the baby who is totally ready for his first nap by the time we’re dropping S off.
For all of your family to-dos, consider having an electronic family calendar on your phone like the FREE Cozi schedule and list app!