I’m late to everything. Literally, my family says “I’ll be late to my own funeral” and my friends take bets on when exactly I’ll arrive. My husband’s family is from Colombia and they joke that they run on Latin time. Which I thought wasn’t really a thing until we had to tell his grandparents that our wedding started earlier than it really did in hopes that they would be on time. They still missed the ceremony. God always has my back though, because I fit right in. Who knew? This blue eyed gal was Latin?
Last year, my husband said he received a phone call from the kid’s school. Stepping in as super mom, I cut him off ready to come to the rescue at the drop of a hat and questioned, “Are the kids okay!!!?” My cape rippled in the wind as he proceeded to tell me that my beautiful cherubs were fine but he just hung up from conversation with the Dean of their elementary school. I thought to myself, how my mama bear claws were coming out as I’m sure my hubby was about to inform me of some injustice my child endured at the hands of some slimy bully.
My pride was quickly checked at the door as my husband calmed my fury and told me that the dean was warning us about excessive tardiness. The kids had reached a number of tardy mornings that had them on the edge of DETENTION. My kindergartner and third grader who ride to school in my vehicle were one tardy away from serving a punishment for being late.
In my defense, their elementary school starts at 8 AM on the dot in their classroom. Not in the hall. Or at their locker. But with all of that already completed IN their class or they are late. Whether 30 seconds or 10 minutes late, they were still marked tardy. Obviously, I like a little bit of leeway when it comes to rules. The school system, however, begs to differ. I was shocked that this quirky little trait that I could always laugh off and excused as being “fashionably late” was going to cause my kids to endure a sentence for something not completely their faults. We got through by the skin of our teeth for the remainder of the year. Let’s just say there was a whole lot of tuck-and-rolling type drop offs going on.
This school year, I have been DETERMINED to not only get my kids on time to school, but even EARLY to make up for all the mom guilt I have for the first several years of tardiness in their lives. To get different results, we had to have a different process.
Here’s 5 things I changed about our mornings so we can finally be (gasp) EARLY TO SCHOOL.
1. ALARM CLOCKS.
In the past, I would wake up and then go to each child’s room and give them a nudge and a kiss and whisper “time to get up sweetie” all Mary-Poppins-like. That led to attitude, and grunting, and rolling back over when I left the room. Now, each kid has their very own alarm clock set up across their room. It keeps buzzing until they get their cute little behinds up themselves, walk a few steps, and turn it off. They do much better at not hitting snooze than I do. In fact, I didn’t even explain that button to them so I’m pretty sure they don’t even know it exists. So along with Tinder, we’re going to keep them in the dark about that until they’re at least 30. Good plan, right?
2. CLOTHES LAID OUT FOR THE WEEK.
So my kids go to a private school and wear uniforms. There are three shirt color options and two shorts color options. Plus three skirts for the girls. Yet still, STILL, we have clothes drama in the AM. This year mama has beat the system. Every Sunday, we pick out the entire weeks worth of outfits down to socks and underwear. We have a five shelf stacking sorter in their closets and we put them in there. Monday is on the top and so on moving down to Friday. I never have to worry midweek about laundry for uniforms and they also get themselves dressed quickly before they even step foot out of their rooms in the morning. This alone has moved along our morning routine.
3. PACK LUNCHES WHILE MAKING DINNER.
Last year I was so tired by the time they all got to bed that I would hold off on making lunches until the AM. It never seemed like a task that would take that long but add in a toddler, kids who need breakfast, dishes, making coffee, etc. and it can seriously delay when we leave for school. In order to beat the feeling of being so tired and leaving the job for the next day, I just do it when I’m already in the kitchen cooking dinner the night before. This way of doing it alleviates the stress of packing when I’ve already cleaned up from dinner or becoming exhausted after getting through the bed time routine. If I cook enough I can even send what we eat for dinner in thermoses for their lunch. That makes things even easier with one mess to clean up. It’s a win/win.
4. GET RID OF OVERLY ORGANIZED CHECKLISTS.
Last year I printed out these adorable Morning Routine sheets. I put them in frames and hung them up for each kid to cross off completed items in order with a dry erase marker. To this I say, K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid! Giving my kids another task to do (checking off the board) made everything take even longer. Not to mention the drama if I haven’t wiped them clear the night before or the fighting if one person was using the marker at the exact time the other child needed to cross of their item. Sometimes in our efforts to be organized we complicate things! This year = no checklist. I have explained to each kid the process and expectations. They complete each thing in whatever order they want and with no distractions, we seem to transition in between steps to get ready MUCH easier.
5. SET A LEAVE TIME AND THEN LEAVE THEM.
Our problem last year was getting everyone in the car when it was time to go. Someone always forgot something and there was definitely tears and running in and back upstairs, then I would yell, etc. Not only do I not want that stress as a way to start all of our days, but it made us late. I’ve since started a “leave time” and then enforced it. Our leave time is 7:20 which actually gives us a ten minute leeway on when we REALLY need to leave the house in order to make it at the desired time to school (which is 15 minutes before the bell). I’ve told the kids that when the kitchen clock says 7-2-0 we need to be getting in the car to leave. That way they can own it by paying attention to the clock, and they also know that if their butt isn’t in the car, I’m pulling out pretty soon after that without them. I will not yell or fret or stress. Easy peasy.
So far this year we have not been anywhere near late to school even once (3 weeks strong people). Part of it is due to the fact that all my kids are getting older (9,6,2) and the other factor I believe are implementing these 5 things. I’m honestly so proud of myself and the kiddos for getting our stuff together with our morning routines. Now if we could just figure out a way for our bedtime routine to not include me losing my crap and threatening to take away everything they love if they don’t get in bed by the time I count to three, that’d be great!