This post is sponsored by ANZ School Ready.
It’s been almost three years since I made a personal vow to take the stress out of our school morning routine and banned myself from saying (or more often, growling) the words, “Hurry up!” I cannot tell you what a difference it has made to our mornings.
Do I now look forward with a smile to the super busy start of school day mornings? Well, no, not particularly. Does it feel somewhat repetitive? Just. Every. Single. Day. Do we leave the house victorious, exchanging high fives with the sound of an angel choir singing ringing in our ears? Umm, no. But we do leave the house feeling much more ready and relaxed (me), much more prepared and positive (them), with a lot less hustle and stress (us) and on time (for the most part). And we’ve learnt a number of lessons about the causes of unnecessary stress on school day mornings along the way – here are my top five!
Stress #1 You aren’t being realistic about time: Pick a wake up time and stick to it. Purchase an alarm clock for each person if need be. When choosing your wake up time, be realistic about how much time you need to get everyone ready and out of the house without rushing. Don’t set yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun by not leaving enough time.
Stress #2 You haven’t established a consistent morning routine: I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our simple but consistent school morning routine. My girls get up and they know the deal. They know what to expect and they know that there is VERY little chance that mummy will change the routine so there is absolutely no reason to ask to put on the TV before breakfast.
If your routine is currently non-existent, I suggest starting out by making a list of each thing that needs to be done to get everyone ready and off to school. Consider whether any of these tasks would fit better into your (or the kids’) evening routine the night before. In what order will the morning’s tasks flow most smoothly? Who is responsible for each? Once in place, be consistent, especially in the early days, and get the kids on board.
We have a set of simple picture cards that set out the girls’ routine, step by step. You can print a copy here.
Stress #3 The kids aren’t pulling their weight: I believe the key to getting the kids doing their part is putting in place systems that set them up for success. As well as our routine cards, we have a weekly activities calendar and packing list displayed in our school bag area. Uniforms are kept all together in a central plastic tub and laid out the night before. Shoes are kept in a basket by the front door. Hair brushes, spray and hair ties have a tub too. Library bags, music books, diaries are all stored in the same place each and every day. Just as they are clear about the routine, my girls know exactly what their morning responsibilities and are responsible for getting them done. Again, because we do it the same way everyday, it’s much less stressful and when they do need reminding, it’s much more likely to be a re-direction to look at their chart or list to keep them moving.
Stress #4 Your expectations are too high: Of course, #3 above only works when you keep the to-do list realistic. Unless you have more than an hour to get everyone ready and out the door, adding a whole list of additional chores to the morning is sure to add stress and tension. Obviously there will be non-negotiables, such as feeding the family pet, but if you are short on time leave as many of the chores until after school/work as you can.
Stress #5 There are too many distractions: We have a clear rule that there is no time for play until everyone is ready for school. If they drag their feet, my girl’s miss out on having any free time before we leave…and they both really value a little free time at the start of the day, even if it is just five minutes. We also have a no screen time rule before school. Keep distractions to a minimum to help everyone get out the door on time.
Most of all, remember you don’t need to be Supermum but things are more likely to go to plan when you are involved. Some mornings will be smooth, others not so much. And whichever morning you’ve had the most important thing to remember to include is time for hugs and kisses!
Take the Stress Out of School Fees with ANZ School Ready
Of course, getting to school with a minimum of fuss and stress isn’t the only school related stress parents face. Choosing (and paying for!) the right school for your family can be pretty darn stressful too, and for many of us, it is a decision we are thinking about well before our children are anywhere near ready to head through the school gate. We missed out on our first choice of kindergarten for Immy because we moved ‘late’ into the area and weren’t on the waitlist early. We then had to move Immy when a place became available the following year. Of course, choosing a school isn’t just reserved for parents of pre-kindergarten aged children, many families have to make the decision more than once due to changes in family location, circumstances and budgets, or needing to change to a school that will better suit the needs of the children.
We now have two children at a local private school, and school fees are our second biggest household expense, after our mortgage. Do we sometimes struggle with the expense? We sure do. Although it is an outlay we value, as it is the best choice for our children right now, it is understandably an expense we have to regularly re-consider and re-evaluate.
Research commissioned by ANZ found that despite private school fees being a significant household expense for many families, more than half those surveyed plan to send their children to private school, and whilst many believed that planning for a child’s schooling should begin between the ages of one and three, only 10 percent actually do so.
To help parents be better prepared for the expense of private school education ANZ has launched the School Ready website. School Ready has been designed to help parents find local private schools, and it uses school fee data to help parents calculate and prepare for the long term expense of private schooling.
Schools are located by postcode, suburb or via an interactive map, and can be further filtered by school year level, gender, school type and price range.
The tool can forecast fees for up to six schools and the schooling needs of up to six children can be compared, demonstrating the potential fees for each school.
ANZ also provides parents with the option of receiving a personalised report based on the schools selected, providing a savings plan and tips to help you be more financially prepared. An ANZ Priority Banking Specialist is also available to discuss the report in more detail.
At School Ready you’ll also find a range of general tips for planning and saving for your child’s education, and suggested solutions to help parents though the different stages of the education planning journey. Find out more at ANZ School Ready.