Over the course of Claire’s kindergarten year, we have polished the morning, off-to-school routine. The challenge is to always get Molly and Claire dressed, fed, packed, and in the car by no later than 7:30 every school day. Before kindergarten, we were spoiled by a completely flexible morning schedule. The only time constraint was for me to get back home in time for any morning meetings, and those rarely started before 9:00 am. It also a general matter of time being precious and me wanted to get the day going. With kindergarten, we have no such flexibility. We always have a 7:30 am deadline!
This routine evolved over time, but here is what we ended out with by the end of the school year. This is partially interesting because a couple of minutes literally can make or break the routine. It is hard to recover from a 5-minute distraction, and Kit will attest that I do not take well to any unexpected deviation from the routine.
6:20 My alarm goes off
6:25 I get up, get dressed, brush teeth, hopefully shave
6:35 I wake Claire up, carry her downstairs (still half asleep), and put her on the sofa. This is her alarm + snooze time. I try not to wake up Molly just yet. I get her some breakfast, normally cereal and milk, maybe some bacon and/or fruit as well on a good day. Also, usually a Claratin. We turn on a TV show to help wake Claire up.
6:40 I put food in Muffin’s bowl and top off her water. While Claire is eating breakfast, I go back upstairs, give Muffin her incontinence pill, and let (or, force) her out.
6:45 Back downstairs to check on Claire and get Molly’s breakfast ready. Molly always has a whole grain mini-bagel with cream cheese, whole milk, and Jimmy Dean sausage crumbles. Plus maybe some bacon and/or fruit as well on a good day.
6:55 Back upstairs to let Muffin back in, who by now is scratching on the back door. Then I get Molly up, a new diaper, and dressed. Then downstairs together.
7:05 Start Molly on breakfast. I like to have breakfast ready before she comes down so I can put her straight in her eating chair. Otherwise she tends to get distracted by something and won’t focus on eating. Tell Claire it’s time to get dressed.
7:10 Ice Claire’s lunch bag and grab Molly’s lunch box (Molly can use a refrigerator at school; Claire cannot). Get lunches and any other random school items for the day (paperwork, swim suits, diaper refills, library books, etc.) together and hopefully out to the car.
7:15 Put shoes on Molly, give her her nose spray, and do her hair. Usually Kit does Molly’s hair. Let Molly keep eating.
7:20 Make sure Claire is dressed (usually she is, but sometimes needs a gentle reminder). Make sure Claire has on her shoes and has brushed her hair too. Also reminder her, if necessary, to take her dishes into the kitchen. She likes to save these tasks for the very last minute.
7:25 Move everyone towards the car. If we start at 7:25, we are usually pulling out of the driveway by 7:30.
The first bell at Claire’s school is at 7:40. This gives us just enough time to get there, park, and walk to the room. If we run behind on time, we have to do “Circle Drive” drop off to make up time, which means Claire hops out of the car and goes into school by herself. She really prefers for Molly and I to walk in with her, so Circle Drive is an ever-present incentive to get going on time.
This routine took some work to get in place early in the year, and some occasional nagging to keep on track throughout the year, but mostly it ran on autopilot once established. This is such an engrained routine that Claire wakes up at 6:30 or earlier even on the weekends unless she’s completely exhausted, in which case she might sleep in until 6:45 or 7:00 at the latest. I keep telling her to sleep in, but 7:00 is the very best she can do. She always wants to get up and hang out before everyone else wakes up!
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