school

'I'm an organisation expert. These are my 5 hacks to make the school morning rush easier.'

In Mamamia’s Parenting Hacks series, real women share their tips and tricks on everything from meal prep to organisation to nailing the morning routine.

This week, organisation expert Bridget Johns shares her tips to make the school morning rush easier.

For years, I hated the sound of my own voice on school mornings. 

Part-drill sergeant, part-sheepdog, I’d herd my children around the house, nagging them to get dressed, eat breakfast and brush their teeth. 

I was a pro at eventually getting everyone out the door on time, but it ALWAYS came at the expense of my own sanity. Then one day, I realised that there had to be a better way.

Watch: Have you heard these classic mum phrases before? Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

So, I made a list of all the things the kids need to do each morning (and each night) and stuck it on the fridge. There is a "to do" and a "done" column and the kids move a magnetic marker across when it’s done.

Now, at a glance, I can see where they are up to. If things are running a bit slow, I can just say, "Where are you up to on your list?" to prompt them into action. 

You'd be surprised by how much energy this saves me.

Without the list, I'd live on an unrelenting Groundhog Day of "have you cleaned your bloody teeth yet?" and I’d be in a state of stress and annoyance all morning.

If you're living in a similar morning rush nightmare and it's costing you time and energy, here are my favourite school morning hacks to reduce the mayhem and work towards a smooth-sailing morning.

Stop, focus, notice. How do you want your morning to run?

STOP. This is the first step of one of my favourite mantras 'Stop, Focus, Notice'. 

If mornings are stressful for you, stop doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Focus on what is actually happening. Write it down. Talk to your partner and kids. Have a family meeting and explain how mornings feel for you. Then notice what your options are for changing things. 

ADVERTISEMENT

What can everyone in your family (not just mum) do to make mornings run smoother? Does everyone have clean clothes to wear? Are school shoes in 'their spot'? Can lunches be made the night before? Do you watch TV in the mornings? Who does what? Is mum doing most of the tasks? 

These decisions are different for each family, but as a family, you need to decide what would work for you and try it. 

Look after you first.

I’m a night owl turned early bird. When my now eight-year-old daughter started preschool, I would be woken up by a child standing next to my bed and I would be on the back foot. I’d be grumpy that I’d been woken up and then I’d jump straight into 'mum mode', which invariably became 'grumpy mum mode'. 

So, I decided to do something about it. I started getting up just 15 minutes earlier (which is just over one per cent of your day) and giving myself some 'me time' before I switched into 'mum mode'. 

Surprise, surprise, I started to enjoy the 15 minutes of glorious peace I’d created for myself every morning, so eventually it became 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then one hour - until I found just the right amount of 'me time' for me. 

Now, I go for a walk, listen to podcasts, drink a whole hot coffee (the luxury!), read, cross stitch, and get myself ready before the kids' alarms go off and the morning mayhem begins. 

There is no magic number for how much time you need for you in the morning, but PLEASE do yourself a favour and find at least one per cent of your day (or 14.4 minutes to be precise) for you. If we can’t find one per cent of our day for ourselves, something has to change. 

For me, it’s about giving myself the best of myself in the morning, rather than what’s left of me at the end of the day (when I want to collapse into bed). And I feel all the better for it.

Time buffers are your new best friend.

When the planets align and everything runs smoothly, how long does it ACTUALLY take for your kids to wake up, get ready, and leave the house without stress, yelling and arguments? 

For us, it’s 30 minutes (or 15 minutes if we really need to hustle), so we allow an hour. By adding a time buffer into your morning, you reduce the stress, rush and chance of being late. Nothing runs to plan, but time buffers give your kids incentives to get things done quicker. 

In our house, the kids need to complete a list of tasks. Once they are complete, they are able to go play and do what they like. The quicker the tasks are completed, the quicker they can play. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Image: Supplied.

Empower kids to be part of the process (and steal my lunchbox formula).

My kids are 10 and eight. They are more than capable of getting themselves ready and out the door, including making their own lunch boxes. But it's not a free-for-all. We have a lunchbox formula they follow. They must have two pieces of fruit, two veggies, a sandwich (or some substantial item like leftovers) and a snack. 

I find this works really well and lots of my clients have implemented this with a lot of success. 

Sayonara, lunchboxes!

The kids also get themselves dressed, empty the dishwasher, feed the pets, make their beds, tidy their rooms and make their own breakfast. Are you doing all these things? Go back to tip one and take some time to 'Stop, Focus and Notice' what you want your morning to look like and delegate some tasks to others to free up your time. You’ll thank me later.

You can catch up on our previous Parenting Hacks articles here:

Bridget Johns is a Life Organisation Expert and the founder of Be Simply Free. Bridget works with women 1:1 or through her #ClearClutterFindTime course to reduce their mental load and declutter their homes, phones, and calendars. You can follow Bridget  here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Do you buy the groceries in your household? Take this short survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!