Getting the kids ready for school and into the car is always a challenge for parents. Whether you are set to tackle the task for the first time or if you’ve been a parent for a while, kids will inevitably make things difficult for you. There’s no need to despair the school run, however, as there are certain steps you can take to make the morning a more peaceful process for both you and your children. So, with that in mind, we’ve put together a collection of tips and helpful advice on surviving the school run, giving you everything you need to approach weekday mornings and the drive to school with confidence and positivity.
Get everything ready the night before
Organisation is key to enacting a successful school run and to this end, Molly from the parenting blog Mother’s Always Right, has some excellent advice. Speaking to us about preparing for the school run, Molly said: “My best tip is to get everything ready the night before. Lay out school uniforms, pack lunch boxes, sort out PE kits and school shoes and have everything waiting by the front door ready to go in the morning. We also make sure our girls are dressed for the day before they go down for breakfast in the morning because it saves a lot of time and negotiation getting them back upstairs again!”
Harriet, from the parenting and lifestyle blog Toby and Roo, also knows full-well about the benefits of getting things ready the night before, sharing her tips with us about how parents can survive the school run: “My top tip for getting children to school in the morning is to be prepared the night before. You can even go as far as to put your coffee cup and their bowls out. I did this when Edith (my youngest) was a new-born because I was SO disorientated some mornings! If everything is ready, then you only have to wrangle the kids out of the door right? What could go wrong…”
Leave before you need to
Harriet also recommends that parents give themselves more time than they need to get the kids ready. This means if there are any mishaps along the way it won’t cause too much delay.
“Set yourself the goal of being out of the house 10 minutes earlier than you need to be! I have it in my mind that we should leave at 8.10am when in reality we would be fine to leave at 8.25am. If I set that early goal when we are running late, it’s not the end of the world!”
Get a Coffee machine with a timer
Acquiring yourself a coffee machine with a timer is key for parents who love their morning fix. By setting the timer for ten minutes before your alarm goes off, you can not only encourage yourself to get up but have a nice cup of brew waiting for you. Technology is your friend and gadgets like these will make mornings that little bit easier. Harts of Stur, one the UK’s largest retailers of kitchen electrics and cookware, is a great place to pick up such an appliance from and they kindly recommended a product that would be ideal for school mornings:
“Melitta produce a range of filter coffee machines with programmable start timers that allow you to be awoken to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. We would recommend the Aromaelegance Therm Deluxe model which comes with Aroma Premium Technology and a double-walled stainless steel pot to keep your freshly brewed coffee nice and warm. Many purists prefer filter coffee over any other method as it allows you to get the best flavour out of the bean. The end result is smooth tasting and full of flavour and aroma. The added advantage of this filter coffee machine is that the programmable timer allows you to set everything up the night before, saving you valuable time in the morning with the added benefit of waking up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee!”
Incentivise kids to get ready without fuss
Now, you don’t want to resort to bribery to get your kids to behave but there is nothing wrong with incentivising good behaviour if you believe this is a tactic that will work with your children. Marcie, from the excellent parenting and lifestyle blog, Marcie in Mommyland, offers this as her number one piece of advice for school mornings: “My biggest tip for getting kids to school in the morning is to offer them a tasty snack. My kids are motivated by food, so it’s easy to get them in the car if I tell them they can eat a frozen waffle, a granola bar, or some special crackers on the way to school.”
Put school bags in the car the night before
Marcie recommends that parents put necessary items like bags in the car before you go to bed, as this way you will have one less thing to worry about in the morning: “For the evening before school, I like to pre-pack my car with anything we might need to bring to school. Sometimes that’s snacks for the class, a tuition check, or a winter jacket. I also try to make lunches and put them in the fridge, so it’s easy to throw them in the backpack and hop in the car.”
Utilise a kitchen calendar
The life of a parent is, of course, a hectic one, with days flying by from one to the next. So, keeping on top of things, and knowing what is happening with your kid’s school itinerary on any given day, will be immensely helpful. This is the excellent advice of Claire Kirby from the parenting blog Life, Love and Dirty Dishes: “My kitchen calendar is key to getting the kids out of the door on time in the mornings. Knowing who needs a lunch box, a library book, homework on any given day makes life so much easier. And it ensures I don’t forget any dress up days. No one wants to be that parent!”
Don’t top up the car on your way to school
A mistake some parents make is trying to combine the drive to school with stopping off at the petrol station to fill the car up. Try to avoid this as it’s another potential hiccup along your path. You want to make the drive as quick and simple as possible. Instead, visit the station in the afternoon or after dropping the kids off, so you are prepared for the next day.
Check road closures the night before
You can also make your drive to school that much easier by being aware of any roadworks and closures well in advance. Obviously, you can’t predict things that haven’t happened yet, but it never hurts to check online or the local news to see if anything is happening in your area, allowing you to plan an alternate route or leave the house a little bit earlier if need be.
Keep your car clean and in good shape
The key to a successful school run is avoiding stress, especially when it’s unnecessary. You can really help yourself out in this regard by making sure that your car is clean and in good working order, improving your mood in the process. If the back seat of your car is littered with rubbish and toys this will not only provide kids with distractions but could interfere with seatbelts. Also do everything you can to make sure your car is in good working order, such as checking tyres, lights, or even utilising a service plan from Mercedes to provide peace of mind.
Know your route
This may sound like a no-brainer, but simply being familiar with your route to school will, of course, be tremendously helpful. Perhaps you are new to the area or are taking kids to the local school for the first time. If so, why not just drive there yourself on the weekend, so that you know and can become familiar with the route and can find out the best way to get there. This will surely save you from some unneeded headaches on school mornings.
Get kids to put everything in place when they come home from school
One of the first things we can do is to make sure that your children put their school things in place when they get home. The last thing you want in the morning is to be running around the house looking for school bags, books, and homework. So as soon as they get home, get your child to put things like shoes and bags in a particular place so they (and you) know where they are.
Strict bedtime regiment
Your children are never going to be up in time on a school day if they are going to bed late or at erratic hours. Try to instil a strict bedtime regiment for your kids, putting them to bed at the same time every night so that they know exactly what’s going on, eliminating complaints. Getting them to bed at a reasonable hour will ensure you have done everything you can to make sure they are not overly tired come morning. This will also provide you with further chill out time in the evenings (always a help!).
Get yourself up and ready before the kids
Another top tip for a smooth school morning is to make sure that you are up and ready to go well before your kids. Set your alarm nice and early as this will allow you to get ready for the day in peace and do anything that needs to be done without worrying about the kids, including having breakfast ready. You can then be fully ready to help your children with anything they need.
No TV in the morning
While it will be quite clear to you that there is no time for TV in the morning, kids won’t see it the same way and this can prove an obstacle in getting them ready for school. Make a rule that TV is not allowed in the morning. Any initial tantrum will be preferable to having to drag them away from it when you want them to get into the car.
Encourage children to get themselves ready
To help make your life easier, it’s certainly a good idea to encourage your children to try and get themselves ready in the morning as much as they are able. If they can simply get themselves dressed in the morning without assistance, this will be one less thing for you to worry about. Explain to them what they need to do in the morning and see how they get on. Giving them some responsibility will also be beneficial to their development.
Last of all, remember to stay calm. Now, this is harder than it sounds, of course, but try your best to take a breath and not let your stress take over. By applying the above tips and advice, you can certainly help in this regard, creating a morning routine that is as easy-going as possible. Kids can pick up on stress so by remaining calm this will rub off on them and make your life so much easier.
As an aside, if you’re realising that your car might not be the most reliable piece of machinery to complete the new year’s school run, make sure to take a look at the new models available from our local dealerships.