Back to School: Get Out the Door Drama Free!

Jeanne Sager
Big Kid

getting on busParents are counting down the days until their kids go back to school, but there's a bit of dread mixed in there.

Because with back to school comes back the morning routine.

Getting them out of bed.

Getting them fed.

Getting them on a bus.

And not losing your sanity.

We here at The Stir are getting a rash just thinking about it, so we reached out to the experts at Cozi -- home of the family calendar -- for tips on how to get the kids out the door drama free.

The Stir: What are the biggest mistakes parents make when trying to get kids moving in the morning?

Romi Lassally of Cozi: To me, the biggest mistake is trying to do too much in the morning.

I'm now pretty diligent about making lunches, putting backpacks (complete with finished homework, library books, etc.) by the door, and encouraging kids to set clothes out. If I'm really on top of my game, I set the table for breakfast and make it easy for my kids to do the rest (make cereal, toast, whatever they want).

We keep a printed version of the Cozi calendar for the week on the bulletin board in the kitchen and the kids each have a very short TO-DO checklist we make with Cozi lists. I don't have to nag -- "Did you feed the dog? Did you brush your teeth? Did you eat breakfast?" Now it's on their list and until three to five things are checked off, there's no TV, no video games, no computer, no nothing ....

It's a win win -- I don't have to nag, they're learning to be responsible, and the mornings run pretty smoothly (unless I'm the one getting lost working on my computer -- this is probably the second biggest mistake parents make ... getting distracted themselves. In my house it becomes a "do as I say, not as I do" scenario far too often).

I also keep a checklist taped to the door because I have kids at two different schools with different drop-off times. It seems sort of remedial but I no longer expect myself to remember everything -- there's just too much to do!

Why is a schedule necessary? What if you're pretty free-wheeling?

Even if you (the parent) are free-wheeling, it's really essential to have a FAMILY schedule so everyone is on the same page, literally and figuratively. Kids like to know what's ahead (baseball practice, school play rehearsal, teacher conference day/early dismissal) and parents (if they're like me) need to plan accordingly and avoid forgetting supplies/uniforms, etc. and most importantly any conflicting events.

I confess to the worst case, harried working mom scenario -- forgetting my son at school while I drove his sister and her soccer team to their game across town. (I managed to find a mom to bring him to me!) Had I looked at the schedule, I would have seen that his normal carpool for that day had been cancelled and I was the driver to all that day.

What I love about my Cozi calendar is that the kids can log in (we have a family password). My older daughters (12 and 19) can input their own color-coded appointments and see what the week ahead looks like. The best feature for me now is that Cozi will send a REMINDER TEXT to my phone-toting kids. They now get a digital nudge -- and honestly, I don't have to be so annoying. And any chance to be less annoying to my tween and teen is a gift!

Any tips for night owls?

My kids are pushing their bedtimes later and later (more the work load at school and the need to watch Modern Family!) but I still try to get them to sleep at a decent hour so they're not cranky. Echoing what I said above, if you're/they're up late, just make sure the basics are done -- homework done/in backpack by the door, clothes for school, and any other activities packed up.

Check out four more tricks to smooth out your morning routine, and share your tips!


Image via lori05871/Flickr

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