August is the end of everything good. The end of summer, the end of vacations, the end of sleeping until noon. The entire month of August is a transition. Our lives go from carefree, spontaneous fun, back to the confinements of structure and order. September brings early mornings and chilly days. And for moms like me, it means preparing yourself for the daily battle of getting ready for school. There are early morning wake-up times, grumbling through the morning routine, fighting to look presentable, preparing a semi-healthy breakfast…and then I have to worry about my kid.
A lot of people don’t realize that back-to-school season is brutal on moms, too. We appreciate the fact that our kids are going back to school for the fall, but setting up a whole new routine around this change is pretty taxing. I’m still new at this, but I’ve discovered a few hacks that help me mentally prepare myself as a mother for the school season
1Get a coffee maker with a built-in timer
My favorite possession, by far, is my coffee maker. If you’re a fellow fiend like me, you can appreciate the existence of a coffee maker that is pretty self-reliant. You simply put your grounds into the basket the night before, make sure you add water, and set the timer for when you wake up. Then, when it’s time to start getting ready for your day, your coffee maker is there to greet you with a fresh cup of joe. Just the feeling of being greeted by a cup of coffee with minimal morning effort can help kick your day into high gear.
2Set a glass of ice out before bed
Having a glass of cool water before you even roll out of bed is a truly underrated experience. When I was pregnant with my second child and had to wake up at the dawn of time to get my 5-year-old to school, this trick saved my morning, every morning. Place a full glass of ice next to your bed at night. Mine takes up residence on the nightstand. Make sure there’s maybe a quarter cup of water in the bottom. By the time you wake up, enough of the ice should have melted for you to have a cool sip of water to shake off the morning fog. It works like charm, and according to science, it’s a pretty healthy habit to start.
3Put your alarm clock in the bathroom
This hack obviously works better for those who have a master bathroom, but the concept is pretty universal. Logic dictates that putting your alarm clock within arm’s reach doesn’t really work if you’re a habitual snoozer. My solution: put it in the bathroom. Most bathrooms have some kind of atypical acoustic quality. Putting your clock in your bathroom and leaving the door open will amplify the sound enough to get your attention, but also force you to get up to turn it off—even if you have a smart device. I started doing this when we got an Amazon Echo, and the acoustics in the bathroom amplified the sound enough for me to hear the alarm, but Alexa couldn’t register my voice. I had to get up to tell her to shut up, but by then I was already in the bathroom, so I’d just jump into my routine.
4Give your kid responsibilities
Share the morning responsibilities with your kid. Remember, when it’s time to go back to school, there are at least two people involved, one is just fun-sized. Giving your mini-me chores is good for all parties. It instills a sense of responsibility and independence in your child, and can help eliminate the frantic, last-minute moments that make you late. For example, I make my son check that the car keys are in their designated spot every night as part of his chores. If they aren’t, it’s his job to locate them and put them away. He’s also responsible for finding and matching miscellaneous shoes and putting them on the rack by the door (order be damned), and having his backpack packed before bed. All of these things have helped me eliminate my main sources of chaos in the morning, and they make my son feel like he’s contributing to the home.
However you prepare for back-to-school season, just know that, as a mom, I feel your struggle. It’s never easy to wake up early for the sole purpose of waking someone else up early, but hopefully, as you watch your children wave goodbye, you remember the big picture. As your kids leave your world and enter their own, know that the tools you’ve given them, although simple, are preparing them to be their own people, guided by your light and love. I’ll raise a coffee cup to that any day.