Getting Kids Ready and Out the Door for School

Children getting on the bus

Why do mornings seem so difficult? For parents, especially working parents, there is typically so much to do in a short period of time. Mornings also provide the perfect opportunity for children to assert their individuality. With the clock ticking for work and meetings, this is prime time for power struggles. 

Whether your children are going back to school or struggling with a new morning routine, getting ready for school or child care doesn’t have to be a struggle. The following tips can help get your child out the door to school in a way that works for your family.  

Tips for a Smooth Morning Routine for School or Daycare

Leave room for unhurried moments. Give yourselves time for some unhurried moments together before you must leave the house. Make sure everybody has enough sleep and rises early enough to avoid rushing. If the child is ready early, spend it reading, talking, or doing some other activity together, making sure you give them your undivided attention during this period. Be sure to follow through if you promise your child you’ll spend time together if the morning routine goes smoothly. 

Complete chores the night before. To make the morning routine less stressful, do things the night before. After dinner, for example, prepare lunch boxes and leave them in the fridge overnight. And after you clear away the dinner dishes, set the breakfast table for the next morning. Ask family members to bathe/shower/wash hair the night before, if possible. Gather permission forms, lunch money, or notebooks. Encourage your children to help with chores that are suitable for them. 

Offer encouragement. If a small child is prone to dawdling, you may have to offer frequent gentle reminders. When you are busy in the kitchen and the child's room is on another level, have them dress nearby where you can supervise while you work. Don't forget to recognize your children's good effort using encouragement on days when everything works well and your family starts the day on time! 

Set reasonable expectations. Expect your children to do what they are capable of, for example washing and dressing themselves if they are old enough. This may be an unreasonable expectation for a younger child. Set one task at a time to make expectations seem more attainable. 

Have a family meeting. During a family discussion, collaborate on how to make the morning routine run smoothly. 

Get out the door. If a child has not been cooperative, try to get them ready with as little fuss as possible. Do not scold or chat; just do what is necessary to leave on time. 

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Children getting on the bus