By Sabrina Rogers-Anderson
When my big girl was four and my twin girls were two, our morning routine was beyond hectic. No matter how hard I tried to stay calm and collected, every morning ended in a frazzled flurry of last-minute activity. “Brush your teeth! Put your shoes on! Get in the car!” I barked in different directions without success. When I finally got everyone strapped into their car seats, I felt like I’d already had a full day and I needed a nap.
And it seems I’m not the only one. A recent survey found that the average parent spends an extra 10 hours and 15 minutes per week getting their children ready for child care and school. Yikes.
While we can’t avoid the long list of tasks we need to get done, there are some simple steps we can take to make our mornings smoother. Here are six techniques that worked a treat for my family…
Make sure your child gets enough sleep
Stick to a regular bedtime to ensure your little one is rested and ready to tackle a big day of fun at child care. From 12 to 18 months, your child should get about 11 hours of sleep at night (plus approximately three hours of daytime naps). From 18 months to three years, they need 10 to 11 hours at night (plus one to two hours of naps). Following a predictable bedtime routine – such as dinner, bath, story, bed – can help children get to sleep more easily.
Pack your child’s bag the night before
Most Community Kids centres provide nutritious meals prepared by in-house chefs, so you won’t even need to pack a lunchbox. If your child attends a centre that only provides morning and afternoon tea, packing their lunch will be quick and easy, so get it out of the way the night before.
You should also pack any other essentials your child needs in the evening to ease the morning rush. Most centres provide nappies, wipes and sunscreen, so you’ll only need to worry about spare clothes, comfort toys and any other personal items.
Prepare your child’s outfit
Laying your child’s clothes out the night before will ensure that getting dressed is a quick and easy process in the morning. No negotiations, no tantrums!
Make a morning tasks chart
Create a chart that outlines all the tasks your child needs to get done in the morning, such as eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, packing their bag and putting their shoes on. I drew stick figures to illustrate each task and wrote the name of the task beside each picture. The girls loved running up to their charts in the morning and seeing what they needed to do next. A huge win for Team Mum!
Stick to a schedule
I also wrote down a time beside each task on my children’s charts: 7am breakfast, 7:20 get dressed, and so on. I explained that they’d have 15 minutes to play before leaving for child care if they got all their tasks done on time. That small window of play time gave them the chance to relax and allowed me to get all my last-minute chores done.
Remind them how much fun they have at child care
When it was time to get in the car, I talked to my girls about how much fun they would have with their educators and friends at child care. The Community Kids educators are incredibly caring and passionate about creating engaging learning experiences for each child that walks through their doors, so reminding your child about all the fun and laughter that lies ahead is a sure-fire way to get them out the door.
Before you know it, you’ll be that chilled-out parent who rocks up at child care with a smile on your face!