Getting a kid ready for school in the morning, especially after a school break, is a dreaded chore that can give parents nightmares for days in advance. It’s a struggle that every parent of school-going kids can relate to. Here’s my composite take on what transpires at daily basis (more or less) in our home during the morning struggle. I hope parents everywhere will identify with this and get a good laugh over it.
So without further dilly-dallying, here goes my “tried and tested” tips on how to get your kid ready for school in 40 easy steps…and hopefully without too many tears on both sides 😉
1. Wake up with a start at 6:00 am when the cell phone alarm blares in your ears. Wonder why your kid is not up yet? Had it been a weekend or holiday, the kid would be jumping up and down on your belly by now, prying your eyes open and shouting “Wake up, it’s morning time!” in your ears.
2. Put the alarm on snooze for another 10 minutes….then another 10…then another 10….Occasionally, you may hear hubby mumble why you can’t put the alarm at 6:30 am directly instead. Silly hubby! The snooze button is there for a reason! Waking up in tiny grudging steps is so much more fun than doing it cold turkey!
3. Drag yourself out of the bed, sometime between 6:30 and 6:45 am and walk straight into the kitchen.
4. Open the refrigerator door and stare at the contents for the next 10 minutes, wondering about the easiest and quickest thing you can whip up in the next 15 minutes for the kid’s school tiffin. For the thousandth time, promise yourself you will be a better mom and plan the meals in advance. Things would go so much better if you could just do the prep work the night before. Hmmm…if only….
5. You see bread. Thank god for bread! In the next 10 minutes, quickly make a grilled cheese sandwich with capsicum, onions, olives, tomato, cheese, and oregano.
6. Pack the sandwich along with cheerios or cookies or boiled corn as a side dish in the kid’s tiffin box. Fill water in his water bottle too. In all probability, the picky eater will only nibble at the side dish and bring the sandwich back home intact (…And now you know why putting in much effort in prepping a wholesome meal is just not worth it! 😉 ) Anyway, Tiffin. Check. Water Bottle. Check. Proceed to the next big task of the morning…WAKING THE SLEEPING KID.
7. You look at the clock. 7:10 am. You need to hurry it up! During morning hours, even a few seconds could mean the difference between making it to the bus stop in time or missing it. So, yeah, scurry like a squirrel:
- Cuddle the kid.
- Kiss him, left, right and center.
- Massage his small arms and legs.
- Gently, sit him upright.
- Pry his eyes open.
- And repeat for the next 10 minutes or so.
He will keep protesting “I’d like to sleep. I want to sleep. It’s night-time.” Whatever you do, don’t be too forceful. Or you may end up with Mr. Grumpy who will protest and cry all the way through…and chances are, you will never make it to the school bus. So, don’t force the wake-up routine. Believe me, I have tried it plenty of times to know from experience that it doesn’t work. And more often than not, it backfires terribly!
8. If the kid is awake by Step 7, well and good. If not, transfer the responsibility to hubby’s sleepy shoulders and go back to the kitchen to get breakfast.
9. Hubby repeats Step 7 many times over till he finally manages to wake the kid up. They cuddle and sit on the sofa. 7:25 am.
10. Switch on the TV, but make sure the cartoon you put on is one which doesn’t interest the kid very much. Or you may have a tough time dragging the kid away to school later.
11. Never ever be tempted to give the kid his iPad (or you will suffer a meltdown, down the road, for sure!). Make sure it’s hidden out of sight all morning (My suggestion? Hide it in your closet under a pile of clothes, it’s the best place!). The kid may ask for it “My red book, give me my red book.” You simply acknowledge his request, “Yes, your red book. I will give it…wait for it.” Just don’t give him a time frame when his demand will be met. Nonetheless, the “yes” will relax the kid enough and he will start watching TV instead.
12. This time is perfect! Give the kid his morning glass of milk, along with a couple of cookies or a handful of chocos/cheerios. Chances are the solid foods will remain barely touched, but thankfully, the milk glass will be finished. If not, keep reminding the kid to do so for the next 15 minutes. 7:40 am. (By this time, the maid also arrives and starts cleaning the utensils. So the kitchen becomes off-limits temporarily.)
13. It’s getting late. Hubby goes to the bathroom and asks the kid to join him, who protests fervently (of course!): “I will not do Nahai-Nahai (Bath). I don’t like it.” Acknowledge it and say, “Okay. Don’t do it. At least, go potty.”
14. Put the TV on pause. The kid would really love to hold in the pee and continue watching TV, but the mention of the word “potty” focuses his entire attention on the fact that he actually needs to go pee (and poop! What? A mom can hope, right?). So he reluctantly gets up.
15. Quickly undress him before he changes his mind and hands him over to hubby. It’s so great that hubby has taken up the chore of ensuring the kid’s oral hygiene, potty time (In case he decides to poop in the morning, that is) and his shower time, saving you precious minutes in the morning! (To be honest, he didn’t just take it up, you dumped it on him. Remember that fine day, when you were drowning in the morning frenzy and hubby just volunteered to do it for that day? You lapped the chance up and never really took the chore back 😉 Yeah, that’s what really happened.)
16. Once kid and daddy are in the bathroom, breathe in and out for a while and rejoice. One leg of your morning workout is done!
17. Take out the kid’s school uniform from his wardrobe, fumbling to find a matching pair of school socks and handkerchief. For the umpteenth time, wonder: why, oh why, could you not do this the night before!
18. Take one look at the kid’s black school shoes and realize they are browned with dirt than black. Furiously clean the shoes and apply a fresh coat of polish over it wondering….oh, I am not even going to say it! Yes! You should have done this the night before!
19. 8:00 am. By this time, the kid and his dad are done with the shower. Take your towel-wrapped baby boy in your arms and plonk him down on the sofa.
20. Press play on the paused TV. The kid starts watching the cartoon.
21. Quickly apply a coat of body lotion on the kid. (Depending on the day, he may actually love this step making it easy and quick or absolutely hate it, making it impossible). These days due to mosquito season (read fear of dengue and malaria), body lotion equals mosquito repellent cream, Odomos 🙂
22. Bring the kid’s uniform out. Under no circumstances should he notice his clothes before you have had the chance to get him dressed at least halfway through. So make sure you hide the school uniform behind his back (literally).
23. Quickly make him wear his underpants and school t-shirt saying things like “Brrr…it’s so cold!” or “Hurry up, wear your shirt! The ants are coming!”.
24. And that is when the kid notices his school shirt and starts his whining “I don’t want to go to school. I’d like to go shopping. I want more shopping.” What the hell!
25. Acknowledge it. “Okay, okay. We will go shopping in the evening. The shops are not even open at this time.”
26. After 1-2 minutes of half-hearted protests, the kid forgets about his whining and starts watching the TV again.
27. This is your chance. Without being overtly conspicuous, try to make him wear his pants, socks, and shoes within the least amount of time possible. 8:05 am. School Uniform. Check. Handkerchief in the pocket.
28. It’s time for a final inspection of the school bag:
- Tiffin. Check.
- Water Bottle. Check.
- Hand Sanitizer. Check (Not that he uses it ever, but it makes you feel good to give him one small bottle 😉 It’s permanently kept inside his school bag).
- One pair of spare clothes (You never take it out, except for seasonal changes, so this is also a permanent fixture in kid’s school bag). Check.
- Books. Check.
- School Apron. Check.
- Extra handkerchief and paper napkins. Check
29. 8:10 am. It’s time for a final inspection of the kid himself.
- Hair combed. Check.
- Nails clean and clipped. Check.
- Nose clean. Check.
- Tongue clean. Check.
- Teeth clean and sparkly. Check.
- Lip balm to lips. Check.
- Shoes shiny. Check.
- Handkerchief in the pocket. Check.
- I-Card…wait where’s the I-Card. Quickly place I-Card around his neck. Check.
- Looking sharp and handsome. Check.
30. By this time, hubby is also ready and dressed for the office. Hand over the kid’s school bag to him. (Another chore surreptitiously delegated to hubby in recent past 😉 !)
31. Occasionally, the kid may protest at this stage again that he does not want to go to school and would rather go shopping instead. This second protest is really thin. You can safely ignore it, pretending not to hear him and ask him to say bye to everyone before heading out instead.
32. The kid says bye to god in prayer room (Pooja Ghar), bye to his great-grandparents photo in the living room, bye to his pet fish and finally to you, the mom.
33. You excitedly bid him goodbye and tell him you will come pick him up at the bus stop at half-past noon.
34. Hubby and kid leave home and start walking to the bus stop which is barely 2 minutes away, while you watch them amble from the balcony above.
35. 8:15 am. Breathe. Congratulate yourself on a job well-done…eh, fairly well 😉
36. 8:22 am. Hubby is back from the bus stop. Ask him how did it go. (Occasionally, especially after a long break, the kid refuses to go by bus and clings on to hubby, who then needs to drop the kid in his car.) Today, hubby tells you that the drop-off went smoothly, without any hiccups. Hubby then proceeds to proudly boast about the number of kisses the kid got today from the girls on his school bus 😉 You only mildly worried about the future teenage years!
37. Enjoy a quick tea session with hubby before he leaves for work at 8:30 am.
38. The maid is done mopping the floor by then. She leaves around 8:45 am.
39. You are finally all alone in the house. There are lot more things and chores to be completed before your hell-raiser is back at half past noon (which is another “how to” story in the making, for another time perhaps). But that can wait for now.
40. Today’s school going was devoid of tears and an extra dollop of whining or mommy-guilt. It is a win-win for both parties. So, breathe. 9:00 am. It is your time now. Carpe Diem!