Another morning of begging our kindergartener and our preschooler to eat something before school. Another morning of rushing to get dressed. Another morning of running out the door by 7:30. Another morning of getting frustrated that a school water bottle was left outside. After dropping them off, I realized I hadn’t really even talked to either one. We didn’t make it past the first week of school before I felt bad for how our mornings were.

We hadn’t had a chance to connect because we were (and I mean “I was”) so focused on making sure their clothes were on, they ate something, little brother was dressed, I was dressed, both lunches were packed, all the shoes were found, all the teeth were brushed, I found my keys, everyone went to the bathroom, the show-and-tell item was packed, and we were out the door on time. 

I hadn’t taken the time to work on my relationship with our kids and to make sure they felt loved before school. I always make a point to hug them as soon as they wake up and again when we drop them off or pick them up. But what about the time in the middle?

My focus has been on making sure we get out the door, when it should have been on having a great morning with our kids. What do we need to do to reframe our thinking away from getting things done to enjoying our time together?

Taking the time to focus on our relationship with our kids is one of the most important parts of our parenting. Our relationship with them is the single most important factor to how well they will do in life. They need to know we love them unconditionally.

I would rather send them off to school with mismatched socks than the memory of a frazzled mom who was rushing them around. I would rather send them off to school with their hearts full. I would rather take the time to make a connection, and give them time to move from one part of the day to the next. I would rather have a conversation about nothing in particular.

We have so many things to do between family life, work life, school life, and extra-curricular activities. These are all important, but nothing is as important as connecting with our kids and sending them to school with their love tank full. Take the time to get the stressful parts of the morning taken care of the night before, so you can take the time to connect every morning.

This does not just apply to school mornings. Bedtimes can be stressful and rushed as well. Have a routine and plan to get bedtime done smoothly, and take the time to connect with your child before he or she falls asleep. 

Let’s stop rushing our kids. From rushing them to school, rushing them to bed, rushing them to the next activity. Let’s slow down more to their pace and focus on our relationship with them.

Here are a few tips on making school mornings a little easier:

Give the responsibility over to your kids. Chances are, if you are worried and stressed about their homework and backpack, they won’t be too worried about it. Important lessons can be learned from forgetting homework. School mornings are great practice for kids in preparing them to be responsible adults.

Use charts or checklists for kids to help them remember what they need to do before bed or before leaving for school.

Have your kids pack backpacks and lunches the night before. Sunday evening prep nights work great for many items.

Pick out school clothes the night before, or Sunday evenings for the whole week.

Have backpacks, folders, shoes, etc by the door, or even in the car ready to go.

Make part of breakfast the night before, or freeze easy breakfasts. Keep things on hand you know they will eat and are easy to prepare. If you have a long commute maybe they can eat in the car.

Have a routine that works for your family. Eat, get dressed, brush, shoes on.

Eliminate distractions. TV while trying to get out the door isn’t helping.

Talk and model. Show your kids how YOU get everything YOU need ready ahead of time. Model responsibility. Talk about what’s next. Give them warnings before changing activities or leaving. Take the time to slow down if they need time to adjust.

Be ok if things don’t go smoothly. Today our daughter’s socks didn’t match. Yesterday I let the baby walk around naked and ended up having to clean up a puddle. Last week I forgot to brush my own teeth. Oh well. Not every morning will go perfectly. And that’s okay.

Ask for help. I am fortunate enough to have a husband who gave up going to the gym every morning to work out in the garage and be there to help with the kids. Ask for help with prep work or carpooling. Your kids can be great helpers too!

What works for your family? What are some tricks you use to calm the morning or bedtime rush?

Emily Scott

Emily Scott, PhD, is a stay at home mom of three, and part time parenting consultant and blogger who has written and spoken on various parenting topics including child development, ACEs, and tips on raising responsible kids.