Does the start of the school year drive you to drink? Since we’ve had the world’s longest Spring Break (seriously, that’s the last time my kids went to in-person school), the idea of starting school feels even more daunting than usual. As a coach who helps busy adults own their time and energy to achieve their goals, I’m quite fond of routines (you might even say I’m the queen of routines…haha). And – a morning routine will keep you from reaching for that morning Prosecco before you’ve finished your cup of coffee. Keep reading for my five favorite tips to ease into your morning routine.
1. Give yourself an adjustment week.
The whole idea behind easing into a morning routine vs. ripping off the band-aid on the first day of school is preventing Godzilla mom from making an appearance (and then feeling guilty about the way the morning went after it’s over). By giving yourself a week to adjust, everyone can get used to getting out of their pjs before noon. Even if you’re not leaving the house for in-person school, the morning still requires everyone to be ready to learn on-time.
The week before school officially starts, plan to integrate essential parts of your routine each day. For example, have your kids get up at a certain time (which requires going to bed earlier) each day the week before. You might even decide to incorporate just ONE part of the routine that you deem the hardest to conquer the week before (for me, that’s getting everyone up and dressed)!
2. Choose the path of least resistance.
If you haven’t been exercising, journaling, and preparing a five-course meal in the mornings before the start of the school year, the week they go back is not the time to start. Adding too much pressure to have the “perfect” morning routine only causes more overwhelm. Think about the basic tasks that have to be accomplished to get everyone ready on-time. Stick to those at first. You’ll have time to incorporate the other habits (if you so desire) at a later date. For now – make it as easy as you can on yourself!
3. Reverse engineer the process.
Something I’ve gotten used to doing from my healthcare project management days is reverse engineering my desired outcome. So, if I know my kids have to be ready to learn at 8:20, I work backwards to determine all the steps that need to occur for that to happen. I don’t make a schedule or anything (no offense to anyone who does), but I do make a mental note of milestones (project manager talk for reference points). Things like “we need to be in the car ready to pull out of the driveway by 8:05” or “the kids need to be brushing their teeth by 7:55” so I have a way to keep us on track. If that sounds a little type A for you, just completing the exercise of walking through the steps to get your final destination on time is so valuable!
4. Start the night before.
Complete as many parts of your morning routine the night before as you can! Packing lunches, setting out clothes, putting folders in book bags, and prepping some breakfast items are all things that can be done the night before. This makes the mornings run much more smoothly. Even with virtual school, my husband and I packed lunches for our kids the night before. This allowed us to actually sit down and eat OUR OWN lunch for a change. It made such a difference in our day! Involve your kids in the prep, too – it doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders!
5. Be prepared to make tweaks.
Some mornings are harder than others, so keep that in-mind. Try to keep that in perspective before making a change to your routine. However, if parts of the routine just don’t seem to be working day after day, make a tweak! I recommend making small tweaks to the process vs. overhauling the whole thing. Take a step back and look for what might be causing the routine to fall apart objectively. Try something different for that ONE part of the routine. And try the new tweak for awhile before changing again – it might take some time to catch on!
You’ve Got This
Successful morning routines are different from household to household! What works for your neighbor might not work for you. I’ve helped tons of adults engineer the right routine for them, and I’d be happy to be a sounding board for you, too. Reach out if you’d like to talk through your routine before it starts or if you want some help on the hot spots once it’s begun. I’d love to help! I hope these tips help you ease into your morning routine and your school year is a healthy one.