Back to School: Mornings Made Easier
For the longest time back to school seems like a dot on the horizon of your calendar, then before you know it, the kids (and you!) need to be back in a strict bedtime and morning routine, complete with new uniforms, new pencil cases and their name written neatly inside everything they own.
Here are our recommendations for getting your little ones (and not-so-little-anymore ones) back on track and ready to get some good ol' fashioned learning done.
Win at term-time bedtimes (and every other night)
Become a regular
The experts agree that a regular bedtime leads to more successful sleep. Sidebar: this is solid advice for all ages, not just kids.
Have a bedtime, and stick to it. And on top of this, have an age appropriate pre-bedtime routine that helps them wind-down ahead of lights out, so they're in a more relaxed state and naturally more inclined to drift off. This could include bath time, reading them a story, listening to relaxing music, and so on. Just as the advice for adults, pre-sleeping time is best spent away from wakeful, brain-stimulating screens.
Choose bedding wisely
Not all bedding is created equally, and while your toddler won't be bothered by thread counts they could benefit from some more specialist pieces.
Our gently scented Fogarty Little Sleepers Lullaby Lavender Cot Bed Pillow uses aromatherapy to help little ones relax and feel calm and comforted, which is great for when they're drifting off and helping soothe them if they wake in the night. It can be popped in the washing machine up to 20 times without losing its scent, so you don't need to worry about it wearing off quickly.
You might also want to consider a memory foam pillow to give their heads added support. My First Memory Foam Pillows are available in sizes suited to cots and their first beds (before jumping into regular full-sizes for older kids), and can help give further support to the head and neck, which will help keep them comfortable and reduce the chances of aches and pains.
Help them WANT to go to bed
School holidays are a great time to perform a bedroom mini-makeover, and with this comes an opportunity for them to feel some ownership for their room and fall in love with it. Encourage them to make editorial decisions whether it's a fresh lick of paint or a new bedding set, and they'll be excited to spend time in their shiny new space.
We have a whole bunch of new kids collections so you can give their bedroom a complete new look that matches from wall to wall, and there's lots of individual bits and pieces that can provide just enough newness. Our favourites include the rainbow collection by our in-house brand Elements (which is perfect for brightening up even the dreariest of days), the safari collection that features all of their favourite wild animals, and the space dinosaur collection because… well… space and dinosaurs!
Back To School: Mornings made easier
So you're nailing the family's night-time routine (great job), and everyone is up on time and full of energy for the day, BUT those mornings present their own challenges.
With this year being a little different, the desire to prep for a return to normality and routine has never been greater.
For most homes, the kitchen is where we all cross paths in the morning. Whether you’re getting ready for work, your kids for school or university, a smooth-running kitchen-come-command-centre is essential for getting everyone out the door on time.
You don’t need to make drastic changes for this to happen, simple ideas like cooking meals for the week ahead will make the world of difference, and from there, become one with your storage collection and freeze, freeze, freeze!
Other little morning hacks include pre-packing the kids’ lunches or letting them fill their own lunch boxes in the morning (from a pre-approved selection) to give you more time to do everything else. And on the theme of lunch boxes, make sure they’re recognisable at a glance so they can grab it easily and there’s no chance of mix ups – at the very least/for added certainty, use a permanent marker to write their name on. We’re not sure your spouse will enjoy a juice box and fun-size raisins for lunch.
When everyone is back to having their own schedules, staying on top of extracurricular activities or general life admin can often fall by the wayside. Get yourself a whiteboard or cork noticeboard and get noting and pinning! Hang it in your hallway so you can have one final look of what your day looks like as you head out, and never miss another swimming lesson or parents evening. Divide into days and note everyone’s whereabouts with a colour coded system, or divide by names to distribute chores.
And when you've got a little more time on your hands or want your kids to feel extra special, we've got an idea that's sure to create an impressive lunchbox-reveal moment when that dinner bell rings. If you are what you eat, this lunchbox will help your little one be a star student with a healthy, balanced lunch that's packed with learning energy and lots of fun.
What you will need:
· Sandwich filling of your choice
· Star cookie cutter
· Reusable lollipop stick
1. Take two slices of bread and butter both slices evenly with a spread or fill with a sandwich filling of your choice. Add the second slice of bread to close the sandwich.
2. Take your star cookie cutter and press down into the bread 3 times to reveal star shaped sandwiches.
3. Take your reusable lollipop stick and push through the centre of each star sandwich
4. Add some salad pieces or fruit to your lunch box to finish off the top and bottom of the star rocket sandwich.
Parents know best: Back to school with Alix & Gethin
Alix and Gethin live in Nottingham with their 3 boys, so they have lots of experience of school runs and coordinating morning routines! We had a good catch up with them to get some insight into how they get the kids ready to go back to school, both mentally and physically.
How do you prepare your kids for going back to school?
We talk about it in a positive way e.g. you'll get to see all your friends and tell your teacher about what you've been doing. Ideally we'll take them to buy their uniform and shoes, although for me I have done this online as I'm not comfortable taking 2 young children shopping yet. We buy them all a new drinks bottle as usually the previous one is a bit worn and old. We also buy lunchboxes if needed, but we're not sure if school dinners will be provided until the school advise in August on the final plans for returning. We arrange haircuts in time for returning too. We might start getting back into some learning so maybe just lots of reading and writing your name (son starts school this year). Crafting, painting, and drawing at home just for fun!
When do you/did you start preparing?
July - I have already ordered all the uniform but still need to buy new drinks bottles etc. In August I will start to get back into a bedtime routine. I already have blackout in their rooms, it's just getting them settled at a reasonable time like 7.30pm! Starting early takes the worry of things like uniform selling out or having to make returns for different sizes etc.
Is there anything you are worried about with your kids returning to school this autumn, given the current climate?
Yes - they have spent a lot more time with us at home and haven't gone into school or childcare at all, so I'm expecting some tears on the first few days back. I'm worried about the changes in school, like the children not having so much freedom to play with lots of children in the playground. I'm worried about if they get ill and how they may feel at school as there quite aware of the virus! It's usually a time to catch illnesses too when everyone goes back, so it's just a bigger worry on whether it's 'The Virus' or just general bugs and viruses.
What adjustments (if any) do you have to make when your kids return?
How things work hasn't been confirmed yet at our school, so we are waiting for an update in August. There will be staggered drop off and pick-ups though so again less chance to speak to friends in the playground.
Do you have a set bedtime routine to prepare the kids in the run up to going back to school?
Yes, just ensuring they are bathed, PJ's on and in bed for around 7, then then can have 15 minutes to read etc. I get all their clothes out ready and place them on the tops of their drawers ready for the morning too.
Do you have any tips to make going back to school more fun for you and your children?
Just getting them involved in picking out their uniform, packing their bags perhaps and always do a cheeky photo on the front doorstep - they're nice to look back on and it's a must for their first day of school!
As parents, how do you prepare yourselves for back to school? Any tips you can share?
Just getting organised - sometimes I may write a little list of things not to forget to do or pack in their bags. It's quite emotional for both kids and parents as you've usually had some quality time together, then it's back to the chaotic life especially when they have after school clubs and homework to do. It's nice to try and have plans for the October break so there's something to look forward to! I also make sure the coat and shoe cupboard is decluttered and tidy so the mornings aren't spent rushing around looking for a missing shoe or coat etc. I prep everything the night before - I usually try and put their shoes/coats/bags out ready to put on!