Surviving the Morning Routine as a Single Parent

A father helps his young daughter get dressed

With back-to-school time just around the corner, plenty of single dads are wondering how they’re going to manage the stress of the morning routine. School mornings can be chaos for any parent. It’s up to you to make sure you get your kids dressed, fed, ready, and off to school. All that, and you still need to turn up at the office on time!

The good news is that the school season doesn’t have to mean months of terrible mornings. With the right morning routine, you can make sure that you get out of the door on time each morning feeling fresh and confident — all with a positive attitude, too. So, let’s take a look at how you can make your morning routine more effective.

1. It All Starts with a Good Night’s Sleep

During summer vacation, it’s typical for kids to stay up a little later than they would during the school year. If you’ve been a little lax with your child’s bedtime lately, it’s a good idea to start making changes before school starts. You can expect your kids to make a few complaints, but the earlier they start going to bed, the more prepared they’ll be for the school routine.

Make sure your child gets at least eight hours of sleep the night before school. Remember, tired parents and children can make mornings much more difficult, and that’s the last thing you need come school time.

2. Prepare the Night Before

The evening before school starts can be a tiring one, but remember that the next morning may be even more exhausting. That means that getting things ready ahead of time is the best way to prepare for success. Finish anything you can do in advance the night before. Short of sleeping in the clothes they’re going to go to school in, your kids should be fully prepared to get ready in as little time as possible. Try doing these things the night before:

  • Packing lunches
  • Filling bags with homework and supplies
  • Picking out the outfit for the next day
  • Setting out breakfast dishes

3. Wake Up Before Your Kids Do

On a weekend, and your days off throughout the summer vacation, you might have let your children wake you up. However, on school and work days, waking up before your children is essential to making sure that you have time to deal with the things you need, before you start running around after your youngsters. Waking up a little while before your children hear their alarm means that you can get a shower, drink some coffee, and sort out the things you need for work before your children rise.

Getting up early also means that you can focus on things that you might rather do without your kids hanging off your arm, like preparing breakfast.

4. Stick to the Same Simple Routine

Variety might be the spice of life, but consistency is key to a good morning routine. If you want to make sure that everything runs like clockwork when the kids are back at school, then it’s a good idea to follow the same schedule every morning. Kids often run on autopilot, just like us, when they know what comes next. You could even try putting key tasks into a checklist that includes:

  • Brush your teeth
  • Comb your hair
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Grab your shoes
  • Pick up your backpack
  • Leave for school

5. Switch from Television to Music

It can be nice to have some background noise going when you’re just waking up first thing in a morning. However, the television can quickly become a time-draining distraction for both parents and kids. Try introducing a rule for school kids that ensures phones, tablets, and television aren’t allowed until people are fully ready for school.

If you need a way to keep your children motivated, you could always try switching to music instead. Sit down with your kids one day before school starts again, and create a playlist full of their favorite mood-lifting tunes. This will be a great way to rev up energy levels in the morning and get your kids moving a little faster.

6. Pick Your Battles

Finally, no matter how prepared you might be, there’s a good chance that things aren’t going to go very smoothly during those first few days when you’re heading back to school. Some children are particularly strong-willed, and the desire to continue playing around the house rather than going back to education is sure to lead to some temper tantrums. Rather than fighting over everything and making the whole experience take longer, make sure you pick your battles carefully.

If your kid insists on eating a different breakfast to what you picked out for them, or your daughter tells you that she wants to brush her hair before she brushes her teeth, ask yourself if it’s worth arguing about it. Most of the time, it’s better just letting the chips fall where they may.

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