Getting to school on time for any family is bloomin’ hard work. Add one or more children with additional needs and often it feels like trying to run a marathon through treacle every day.
It’s a miracle that we actually manage to get to school on time 5 days a week but we do actually manage it. Somehow.
Even though some days in our house can start before 5am, it can still be a rush to get out of the door but a bit of preparation can make life a little bit easier in the morning for everyone.
Here are my top tips for getting to school on time:
1. Preparation is key. Lay out everyone’s clothes and pack any lunches and bags needed the night before. Yes it’s obvious and we all know we should do it but when you’re exhausted after putting the kids to bed it’s tempting to leave it until the morning. Do yourself a favour and give your brain one less thing to think about when everyone’s rushing around.
2. Make breakfast time easier. Lay out bowls and spoons, or whatever you need, on the table after tea time the day before. Don’t forget yourself when it comes to breakfast either. I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked out of the door having fed everyone apart from myself. I recently started addressing this by making myself a breakfast shake in the morning. Whizzing up a few ingredients in the blender makes it a bit easier and if I’ve not drunk it by the time I need to leave, I can put it into a travel cup and take it with me.
3. Know what time you need to leave and start putting on shoes and coats at least 20 minutes before. It takes longer than you think to get out of the house and you need to account for any potential meltdowns. Both Bears object to leaving the house EVERY SINGLE MORNING so I need to make sure I factor that into the morning routine so I’m not physically dragging them both out of the house kicking and screaming.
4. Use a visual timetable. When Big Bear was younger, we struggled to implement a morning routine so we used a basic visual timetable. It included going to the toilet, getting dressed, eating breakfast and putting on coat and shoes. Each activity was stuck to the timeline with velcro in the order he needed to do them and when he’d completed a task, he took it off the timeline and put it in a little box. There was a sense of accomplishment at the end and we reinforced the good behaviour with a sticker chart.
5. Keep things in the car. If you travel to school in the car, try to pack as much stuff in there beforehand such as coats, hats, gloves and scarves in the winter, plus school bags.
6. Checklist. Stick a list on the back of the front door of things you need to take every day so you can glance at it before you leave to make sure you don’t forget anything.
7. Count down to leaving the house. To try to avoid the meltdowns described in point 3, count down to when things are happening eg “15 minutes until we need to leave”, “5 minutes” “2 minutes”. I often use a sand timer as a visual aid to count down an activity.
8. Consistency is key. Make sure you do the same things in the same order every day so everyone knows exactly what they should be doing.
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