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parents panel

Parents Panel: How do you make mornings less stressful in your house?

Strict timetables, a colour-coded whiteboard – and plenty of adrenaline.

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AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched Parents Panel.

This week, we’re asking our panel a pretty timely question for the back-to-school week that’s in it: How do you make mornings less stressful in your house?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

1. The kids make their own breakfasts
Our eldest is going into sixth class so we have the routine down with military precision now. We focus on the kids being self-sufficient: the eldest makes the Weetabix and milk for himself and his brother, then they wash their own dishes and make their own beds.

- Alan Dooley (working from home)

2. A 6am alarm call
I move at a slow pace in the mornings, so we get up at 6am. The kids wake up at that time anyway, and it takes us that long to get everything organised. I hate that alarm though, it’s like being in school myself.

- Suzie Kelly (on a year’s sabbatical leave)

3. Our colour-coded whiteboard
We have a whiteboard in the kitchen where we list who is dropping our son off and who is picking him up, as well as any activities, meal plans and creche dinners for the week. It means we all know exactly what’s happening and when.

- Olly Keegan (working full-time with flexi-time)

dav The holy grail of family whiteboards. Olly Keegan Olly Keegan

4. I shower and pack lunches the night before
I started back to work two weeks ago after my maternity leave. My husband is doing the drop-offs to Charlie’s minder which has made things a lot easier on me, especially on day one – I didn’t have to physically hand him over! We do the majority of morning tasks the night before to make things run smoothly which include Charlie’s lunch, tea and bottles, our showers, our bags and all of that.

- Kait Quinn (working four days a week)

5. An hour before they get up, I get up
I usually time it so that we are awake an hour before the kids. So if we have to leave the house for 8.30am, I get up at 6.30am to sort breakfast and lunches, and the kids are up at 7.30am.

- Susannah O’Brien (stay-at-home mum, homeschooling from this week on)

6. Er, ask me next week…
We have a new school start time and location this year, so it’ll be a brand new routine. All four kids, myself and my wife – who works full-time – will have to be up, breakfasted, dressed and packed into the car by 8.10am sharp. I will be setting the alarm for 7am, but the jury’s out on how it will all work on the first morning.

- Ross Boxshall (stay-at-home dad)

boxshall school Mia off to school. Ross Boxshall Ross Boxshall

7. We set time limits on everything
Karen and I get up first, so we’ll eat breakfast, get dressed and maybe even get a load of washing on before the boys are awake. Routine is key in our house. We strictly manage time in the mornings and give the boys x amount of minutes to eat, y amount of minutes to get dressed – with some spare time built in of course. The routine has been so honed and refined over the years that it works just as well if only one of us is at home.

- Ken Hyland (studying full time)

8. I power through until 8.30am
To be honest the morning routine has gotten worse the older my kids get. Monday mornings are the hardest. I drive my eldest to the bus office for 4.30am so he can head back to college, then I’m back home and into bed for two hours, before getting my teenager up and at the bus stop for 7.50am. By 8.30am I feel like I have a day’s work done, and that’s when my toddler and I sit down and watch some CBeebies or Disney Jr in peace.

- Denise Cumiskey (stay-at-home mum)

9. My husband keeps to strict timings
My husband looks after the morning routine as I leave for work earlier than him. He’s very good with keeping on time. During two hours in the morning he manages to get a shower, make breakfast, eat with Timothy, change him, dress him, and even play a bit and read a book or two.

- Marta Lisiecka (working full-time) 

10. The minder comes to the rescue
Our weekdays have become a tag system. I work part-time, my husband works full-time, and we have a childminder to cover days when we are both working. The minder comes to our house which makes life easier, as she arrives at 8.30am and takes over wherever we are at with getting the kids ready.

- Denise (working part-time) 

Stay updated by following the Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter – and don’t forget to enter this week’s competition for a two-night family staycation at the five-star Heritage Killenard!

More from our Parents Panel: How do you manage to fit in quality time with your kids?

And even more: What’s one thing you do to make the return to school go smoothly?

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