I have many parenting fails, I won’t list them because that’s depressing BUT one of the things I am pretty good at is getting everyone up and to school and work in some kind of reasonable order and on time. I know a lot of people who struggle with this whether they have 1 child or 6 children so here is my take on how we manage this. It is just me and six children (ages 11,9,7,5,4 and 7 months) in the mornings as my husband leaves for work at 6am so this is based on the situation of one adult plus many little children.
1.Go to bed early get up early – seriously don’t imagine a lie in just don’t try, it wont end well for anyone. I get up at 6am and this gives me time to waft around being wonderful, if i get up any later than 6:30am then I turn into a screaming wreck by 8:50.
2.Make sure the clothes are in some sort of basic order. I don’t mean they have to be perfectly prepared I just mean if they have been through the wash and are dry then we are good. We have a shelf in the dining room where we keep all the clean uniform. Sometimes it needs ironing before it goes on but we got up at 6am remember? we have time to deal with that.
3 .Don’t use the morning as “teaching time”. It is wonderful if your children are totally self sufficient in the mornings and get themselves perfectly ready but for the rest of us for goodness sake don’t try and use school mornings to fix that. There are times and places for teaching a toddler to do up her own buttons or teaching your 11 year old to perfectly plait her own hair – a school morning is not that time and place. If you find your self repeating over and over “get dressed, get dressed get dressed”, pick up up clothes, pick up child, insert child into clothes. On the weekends you can encourage more self sufficiency until they get too old to want Mum to dress them.
4.Keep breakfast simple, we like pancakes, cereal, porridge and things I have made the day before (banana bread etc). I don’t make things like eggs and bacon etc on school days simply because it takes too long and on days i go to work (2 days a week) the house has to be tidy before I leave and I don’t want to make too much washing up.
5.Don’t be above bribery. Use healthy bribes if you must but if you are running late then it works. I tend to resort to this on days I have to go to work for things like tidying up since I cant do it after the school run. Not perfect parenting but it gets us through the day.
6.Keep hair styles simple. We have 5 daughters, that’s a lot of hair to do. I keep it to pony tails bunches and plaits. I am not about to spend half an hour brushing hair, to be fair I wouldn’t do this if I had all the time in the world either – hair isn’t my thing.
7.Aim to leave 15 minutes before you actually need to – you will never hit that goal plan to be running behind.
8.Keep a running list of jobs – I actually do this all day, I have a notebook I write down the next three things I need to do. Then tick them off as they are done and add the next three. This way I have some sort of plan but its only short term so it can change depending on what in happening/new jobs that come up/how I feel. I find this especially helpful in the morning as it breaks it down into manageable chunks.
9. No TV until everyone is dressed and fed and ready to go and passed room inspection. Once everyone is dressed and ready to go and room inspection has been passed the TV can go on in the living room so it is in their best interests to do this as quickly as possible. Anyone not dressed etc isn’t allowed in the living room to watch TV until they are. The older ones have set a record of being dressed, ready to go and tidy roomed by 6:45 am although most days its closer to 7:45am.
10.Don’t feel like a failure if it all goes wrong. Some days I feel on top of the world when I leave, everything has gone smoothly and the house is tidy, we skip off to school then i go to work the world is fab. Other days we have lost someones shoe, one kid is covered in yoghurt, one kid is crying and I look like I have never seen a shower but hey we are out the door. You win some, you lose some.