How to Have a Scream-free Morning: Elementary School Edition

It’s really easy to get caught up in the morning rush and get frustrated, especially if you have small children. We all want our kids to be independent and responsible. But it’s hard to teach that in a productive way when the bus is coming around the corner and your child is still eating breakfast in their jammies.

First Day

My oldest is in first grade, so this is my second year in making the transition from having to be somewhere first thing in the morning maybe one or two days a week to having to do it every day. This is how we are surviving:

  • Make the choices easy. My daughter used to pick out really odd clothing combinations, which never bothered me until she started school. Instead of fighting her about clothes, I divided her closet into play clothes and school clothes. It created a good boundary for both of us: she chose school clothes, and I didn’t ask her to change. She still managed to put together some interesting outfits, but I kept my mouth shut! Not every day has to be picture-perfect. I also have lunches divided into different items that they can choose from. Again, healthy choices that I came up with, but that they can put together different combinations of.
  • Do as much as you can the night before. At our house, we get our book bags ready, pick out clothes, take baths, and make lunches the night before. It does mean a little busier evening, but it keeps the morning from being stressful, and I can give my girls an opportunity to be a little more independent without having to stress about time. Any task that is difficult or causes a fight should be moved to the night before until there’s no more conflict.
  • Have an evening routine. My girls know what needs to happen every night before bed. The routine starts right after dinner: make lunch, take a bath, pick out clothes, read, bedtime. Having a routine is helpful for them because they know what’s coming and we don’t have to fight over it for the most part. Routines can also be a great way to help kids learn time management. Make a schedule they can check off, or even a picture chart if they aren’t reading yet. It will help them learn to tell time and add some sight words to their growing vocabulary.  

This may work for you forever, or gradually you may be able to move some things back to the morning once your kids get really good about getting everything done. It’s up to you. Right now I am still heavily shepherding this routine, but it’s still early in the school year.

I’m thinking that once my oldest starts middle school I’ll let her choose her own way of getting things done. By then she’ll have had lots of practice at having a routine and will be ready to come up with her own way of doing things.

Erin Hayes Burt

Erin Hayes Burt

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She enjoys yoga and reading non chick-lit fiction when she's not translating the ramblings of toddlers or training for her next half marathon.
Erin Hayes Burt

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Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mom of three girls. She enjoys yoga and reading non chick-lit fiction when she's not translating the ramblings of toddlers or training for her next half marathon.


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