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6 Tips to Make Your School Mornings Run Smoother

As a mom of four, including three teenagers, mornings have been some of the hardest times in our home. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks have made mornings before school more tolerable for all of us. It took some trial and error, but the rewards are worth the effort!

6 Morning School Run Tips:

1. Technology stays in a different room overnight

Technology can provide all sorts of temptations to delay bedtime, leading teens to text and Snap well into the wee hours of the morning. To prevent distractions that lead to sleepless nights, all teen technology needs to stay in the kitchen or with Mom and Dad overnight, guarded like the Crown Jewels so there are no attempts to sneak it. This can also prevent wasted time getting ready in the morning: No phone until you’re dressed and ready to go (see #6).

2. Earlier bedtime

Though they may not admit it, it’s proven that teens need more sleep. With school, sports, jobs, clubs and a social life, sleep falls by the wayside and can make mornings positively miserable for teenagers—and their parents. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that from sixth grade to twelfth grade, tweens and teens should get between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night. If your teen is a night owl, incrementally work back from late bedtimes until an earlier one can be established.

3. Earlier rise time

If your teen is chronically late no matter what you’ve tried, having them get up 20 minutes earlier gives them ample time before their departure for school. Ideally, this would be coupled with an earlier bedtime too. My son went to bed at a reasonable hour but still didn’t have enough time to get ready in the morning, which caused massive stress for all. An earlier rise time not only got him to his bus stop, it let him start the day calm and prepared instead of frantic and grouchy.

4. Prep breakfast and lunch in advance

You’ve heard this a thousand times, but it really does make a difference. Set a routine for your teen to plan and prep his or her breakfast and lunch. Store foods that need to be heated in microwavable containers that can be easily warmed in the morning and transferred into a thermos. Make sure lunch bags, thermoses, and water bottles are put out assembly-line style. Pre-pack non-perishable items to save even more time. I’ve found that letting my teens play their choice of music while prepping helps the process!

5. Select clothing and pack backpacks the night before

There’s nothing fun about frantically running around trying to find a certain top or realizing it snowed overnight and you need your boots. Check the forecast and, just like homework, make planning and selecting clothing part of your teen’s routine every evening. Pick out clothing choices including socks, footwear, even accessories and leave them on a chair or dresser, ready to go. Pack schoolwork into backpacks along with any extra items needed, like sneakers for gym class, library books or musical instruments, and lay coats over them or on a hook nearby.

6. Use phones and technology as a bargaining tool

Phones and tech are so distracting, it can be a major fly in the ointment for keeping teens on schedule. For those teens who need additional motivation in the morning, don’t allow them access to their phone or any technology until they are up, dressed, and ready to go with some sort of nourishment. This can make the difference between being late (again) or making it to school on time.

Laura Richards

Laura Richards is a writer, journalist, and mother of four. She resides in the Boston area and has written for many outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe Magazine, Redbook, House Beautiful, Martha Stewart Living, and is a frequent Your Teen contributor.