By now you’ve settled into your school morning routine. How’s it going for ya? Do you need some adjustments? Here are some ideas to make your morning run smoothly. Or as smoothly as possible. We are all only human after all.
Prepare the night before
Everyone suggests this, but are you doing it? If not, I get it. Some nights I just don’t have the energy to get ready for the next day. If you’re more of a morning person, get up a few minutes early and organize what you’re going to need for the day, and what your kiddos will need.
If you can lay out outfits, have backpacks packed and by the door, and lunches as ready as possible then your morning will run smoother. Taking out the guess work and looking for that missing pink skirt when you’re already late just adds stress, so anything you can do the night before should be done.
Don’t Press The Snooze Button
A lot of times we try to trick ourselves into getting more sleep, but it just makes us more tired. Try to go to bed earlier instead. Can’t shut off your brain? Try relaxing to white noise or soothing music. Even having your eyes closed and breathing is rest for you body and mind. Pressing the snooze button just prolongs the inevitable, you do have to get out of bed. Yes, I know, I am so sleeping in when I’m old too!
Allow Time For Their Bodies To Move
Some kids benefit greatly from jumping on the mini-trampoline before school, or playing in their back yard. This really helps their bodies wake up and regulate, become alert and ready to learn when they get to school. Our bodies are really not designed to sit still for hours at a time.
Too cold to go outside or don’t have the space? Dance! There’s nothing better than kicking off your day with some upbeat tunes and your kids laughing at your dated dance moves. Let them play Wii or Xbox (as long as they’re up and moving) while you finish getting ready. Put on your Zumba workout DVDs and see if they can follow along. Anything you want, just move.
Kids need fuel the same way you do. Give crunchy foods like pretzels and carrots if they need help organizing and settling down. Dip the crunchies in yogurt or hummus. Or whatever their preferred foods are. Many of us with sensory sensitive kids are just happy when our kids eat anything!
Does your child get anxiety in the car on the way to school? Perhaps a thick breakfast smoothie would benefit them on the way to school, sucking thick liquids through a straw is calming and will also take their mind off their worries.
Don’t Transfer Your Rotten Mood to Your Child
I’m not saying we all have to wake up and sprinkle our kids with fairy dust, but take note that they are sponges. They soak up our energy and we set the tone for the day. Our kiddos with autism are particularly susceptible to pick up on our tone.
Are you angry at someone at work? Do you start your day grumpy about traffic? Find yourself ranting about the weather? Does the news report about the rape and murder that happened down the street? Is talk radio blasting with the hosts fighting about politics? Think about your environment in the morning. Is this setting the tone for your kids to have a good day? Or for you to have a positive outlook?
I drink coffee and prefer to move as slow as possible until it’s in my system, but some days don’t work that way. I have to really make myself smile and get my son off to school without barking at him. Why? Because I don’t want to start his day off on the wrong foot. It’s super hard for him to switch gears, so I have to try and set him up for success, which means biting my tongue about picking up the towel off the floor until AFTER school.
Follow school drop off rules
Many kids with autism are sticklers for the rules. Our school has a specific way we’re supposed to drop off our kids and for some reason a lot of parents do not follow these safety rules. It makes my son crazy! Okay, it makes me crazy too. It always amazes me when a bozo blocks the drop off flow, is searching in their trunk for something, and then screaming at their kid. What an awful way to start your day!
Look at your schools drop off guidelines and follow them, most are posted online. If you’re ready and packed in the car, your child should be able to get out of the car and go about their day after getting a smile and words of encouragement from you.
Drop off at the BEST time for them
If your child needs to go early and play on the playground for half hour to get their energy out, take them as early as yard duty is available. Or if waiting for the bell to ring gives them anxiety, drop them off right as the bell rings so they go directly into class. Yes, we have to work and live our lives too, but again, this is an important start to your child “work” day too.
My son preferred me to walk him directly into his classroom (which wasn’t allowed #sorry, not sorry!) until almost the end of first grade. I’d hold his hand or give him squeezes while he’d regulate himself. It was what he needed. A lot of kids prefer to NOT have their parents around, and that’s great too. Do what works for your child!
This goes for dropping your child at the bus stop too. Do they need you to wait for the bus with them? Can they play on their tablet in the car until the bus arrives? Do what is going to keep your child calm before getting on the bus.