No matter how prepared you are, somehow, the two minutes before you need to be out the door is the exact time your kids decide they suddenly need to find an old teddy they haven't played with for three years! Don't panic. These helpful tips should make your mornings more smooth and manageable - and you might even get to enjoy a hot cup of coffee before your day begins…
1. Let’s start with the few days before school starts. During the Summer, it’s quite normal for your child's Bedtime Routine to becomes very relaxed and they might stay up later than usual most days. If you suddenly bring their bedtime and also their wake up time forward by an hour or more on the first day of school then you're risking having some seriously crabby kids on your hands (cue: morning tears). So, a few days before school starts, gradually bring their bedtime earlier by half an hour at a time (and the morning wake up time) so that by the time school starts your kids will already be in the flow of their new routine.
2. Let’s move on to the night before, this is the most important tip of all. Preparation. Ok, I must confess that I am not one of those SuperMoms who has color coded charts and schedules perfectly typed out, but I do prepare a few things the night before to make sure the mornings are relatively hassle-free. Firstly, I lay out the girls’ uniform the night before to make sure there isn't any drama over which Princess they want on their pants! Secondly, I have a little area by the front door where everything gathers in the evening, such as P.E kits, backpacks, book bags, all the way down to their shoes. The entrance to my apartment tends to look like an airport bag-drop area …… but it works so I go with it!
3. Let’s get onto my favourite topic as a recipe writer and blogger - Food. One of the things that can quickly turn me from Zen Mama into Monster Mama is when I prepare a gourmet breakfast and then get met with the delightful words; “I’m not hungry.” Or even worse; “But I didn't ask for that!” So I’ve come up with a few child-friendly recipes that are jam-packed with nutritious ingredients but can be prepared within minutes and eaten on-the-go. A few favourites include my Homemade Healthy Muffins and also my Granola, which I prepare the night before. Another favorite is Smoothies. I love making Smoothies because they take seconds to whizz up and my girls don't need to rush to finish it. They can drink some at home and finish the rest in the car. Every Mama needs to know a couple of Smoothie recipes that their little ones enjoy for those mornings when there just isn't enough time! I prepare little cups with Fresh Fruit already washed and cut the night before and then in the morning just throw it into the blender and breakfast is ready in seconds.
4. Staying on the topic of food – let’s talk about Packing Lunch Boxes. Now just the thought of this can send many Mums into a frenzy. Well, we all have our talents and somehow mine is being an Expert Lunchbox Packer, so let me share a couple of tips with you. Firstly, the night before I will get all the containers out and have a little ‘Lunch Packing Station’ ready for the morning. My girls will help by choosing their water bottles and utensils (neatly avoiding any meltdowns about who gets the sparkly bottle…). If I am packing dry items such as chips or muffins then I will do that the night before. Secondly and most importantly, keep it simple. Trust me: keep it simple Mamas! I remember having the brilliant idea of making Homemade Mini Pizzas in the morning, which I wrapped in foil and then stuffed into a thermos to stay ‘hot’ and by lunchtime my daughter was met with a soggy, room-temperature cheesy mess. My daughter came home empty (and starving) and the thermos came back full! Making a meal planner is a fabulous idea because your children know what to expect so there are no surprises and you can be organised without having to think too much. Try to remember: the best food for your kids is the food that they will actually eat.
5. My last tip is to Wake Up before your children (even if it’s just a few minutes) so you can gather your thoughts and start the day calmly. Usually, your mood dictates the mood of your children. Don't stress, be calm and take the mornings in your stride. Sometimes, if I am struggling to gather the troops, I play lively music to pick up the mood and energize the household, or I will put out some colouring books to entice them to the table for breakfast. Bribery also works wonders as an absolute last resort! My final and most important bit of advice I can give to any Mum preparing for the school term? It’s to remember that even if you forget something, everyone will still survive (unless it’s your coffee which was forgotten of course!).
Natasha Pathak is a Dubai-based mother and food blogger who posts her beautiful, kid-friendly food images and recipes on Instagram – check her out @coconuttykids