By Stephanie Bernaba
Getting kids ready for school and summer camp can be a chore. In my case, with a seven-year-old and twin six-year-olds, mornings can be especially tricky.
How many times have you run frantically for the bus in the morning because your family wasn’t ready for school? In our house, it’s happened a few times.
I love a leisurely breakfast as much as the next guy, but it rarely ever happens during the week. Why? Because “I can’t find my shoooooeesss!!”
Giving our children the freedom to dress themselves has been both a blessing and a curse. My kids have gone to school wearing two different socks, mismatched tops and bottoms, and their hair looking like Captain Jack Sparrow’s. But – they dress themselves, saving us time (and sanity).
We’ve created a routine in our home that not only helps our children learn responsibility and time management, but also takes much of the stress off Mom and Dad. Here are some tips to streamline your mornings.
Lay out clothing the night before
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Just double check that their picks are seasonably appropriate. I would include backpacks, shoes, and jackets as well, to avoid any morning meltdowns.
Build a “Sandwich Bar”
When our kids don’t feel like buying lunch, we let them concoct their own creations at our sandwich bar, which includes a few types of bread, condiments, and an assortment of meats and cheeses. We use squeeze bottles for mayo and mustard, and try to have a few fresh veggies on hand to complete their masterpieces. We then let them wrap and store them in the fridge until morning.
Use a “Snack Station”
When our kids buy their lunch, they still have a snack time at school. To save time (and energy), instead of gaining that ever-elusive consensus on the actual snack, we’ve created a snack station, where our kids can choose from an assortment of healthy options.
On our snack station, we have Ziploc bags, juice boxes, reusable utensils, small reusable containers, and an assortment of snacks, such as fruit sticks, crackers, fruit, squeeze yogurt and cheese sticks. The snack station makes both kids feel empowered and their parents as well, as we use those moments to teach proper portion size.
Get to know the roll
I don’t know what we did before the refrigerated breakfast roll. The breakfast roll is quick, tasty, and versatile, from which many one-dish breakfasts can be made. For example, you can make rolls with fruit, jelly, honey, and nuts – even cream cheese.
Our family’s favorite is the Pillsbury® Grand buttermilk biscuit, covered with chopped breakfast sausage, a few pats of butter, and real maple syrup. It bakes up sticky and golden brown. A few extra moments in the oven, and you have a one-dish treasure that feeds the whole family. For our recipe, head over to www.RIParentMag.com!
Instead of Mom and Dad doing everything in the morning, we have the chores divided so each person has a task to complete. For example, my oldest son opens the window blinds and turns off exterior lights, while my other son takes out plates and cups, and my daughter gets forks and condiments.
To simplify further, you can set the breakfast table the evening before. After breakfast, each child is responsible for clearing his/her plates and wiping down their spot.
And that’s how we get our kids to school on time in the morning.
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Happy mornings! And don’t forget to set the coffee pot the night before!
Stephanie Bernaba, of Richmond, is Sales and Marketing Manager for Rhode Island Parent Magazine. She is also an independent journalist specializing in life in the digital age and entertainment. View her recent work and digital portfolio at www.whiteorchidmedia.com.