Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hot topic: How to make that 7:50 a.m. start time!

An SF K Files visitor asked me to start the following thread:
With only a few weeks until our daughter's first day of kindergarten, I'm beginning to wonder how we're all going to get out the door in time to make our 7:50 start time. Up to now we've had a later, flexible pre-school start time. Now we'll have to get everyone up, do breakfast, brush teeth, dress, braid hair, get little sister ready, etc., etc, all by 7:30-ish.

Perhaps some veterans from last year could offer tips for creating relatively stress-free school mornings. It would be great to hear from families who have struggled with this and then found a way!

45 comments:

  1. I lay awake worrying about the 7:50 start time. My son woke up at 8:30 this morning. I hate being tired, but I don't see how we and the kids can get to bed early enough for the alarm not to be a terror every morning. I know people say to have everything ready the night before, but realistically we are going to have to feed them breakfast, get them dressed (which is an effort with a two-year old!), make their lunch... Make some effort at looking presentable for the day ourselves.

    When are people getting up for this?

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  2. We're up by 6:30 out the door by 7:20. My kids naturally wake up by 7 now so it's not as hard for us to switch back to the school schedule. I get up by 6:15 and hop in the shower. 6:30 get them up, grab their clothes and throw together some food. At 6:40 the kids eat, dress and brush while watching a 30 min tv show. They know if they aren't ready by the time it's over no tv the next morning. Eat during the show, dress & brush on the commercials. By 7:10 we're pretty much ready to go with 10 minutes of just in case time. Then it's off to the bus to get to school by 7:45. We're a well oiled machine by this point. But, I'll admit it really helps that they are OK morning kids. and, as guilty as I feel about the TV time, I've got to be able to get dressed myself without any fighting. It's works for us. Good luck!

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  3. http://tinyurl.com/l6j2l8

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  4. We are not morning people, but we have put up with it for many years now because the school is otherwise a great fit for us. At this point I am real veteran of the 7:50 start time (about to start year #8--but will be done after that, hooray) and my kids, like me, are night owls who revert to form in the summer.

    That is to say, I don't know that I have ever gotten used to it in the sense of leaping joyfully out of bed in the mornings; I just see it as the cost of loving the school in other ways, and try to keep that vision in front when the alarm goes off. Other families we know put the start time ahead of other factors, which is of course fine and their choice/assessment of what would work for them.

    I should say also that I am a single mom. Sometimes I envy the families that are doing the morning and evening routines with two adults working together, as I imagine (perhaps falsely) that there is tag-teaming going on. For us, it's just me, so if I don't get up (at 6:30am, to get the kids up at 6:50 to catch the school bus by 7:35), then they don't make it to school. So I get up.

    Actually, now it's just one kid catching the bus at 7:35, and my other kid gets up himself and does his own routine, and we walk together to his middle school bus stop an hour later, and then I continue on to my work at 9am.

    As for tricks for making 7:50 work:

    Truly, do get as much done the night before as possible. I make as much of the lunches as I can (carrots or pieces of fruit in their little containers, thermos ready, make sure there is enough bread/peanut butter, everything in the front of fridge or cupboard ready to be grabbed). If the kids are going to purchase the school lunch that day, the money is already in their backpacks or on the counter to slip into their pockets. Jackets are ready by the door. All school papers are signed and the backpacks ready to go by the door. Clothes are laid out (my kids pick out their own before going to bed).

    I also know a working mother of three, including twins, who has been known to send at least one child to sleep in his clothes on occasion. In the larger scheme of things, what's the harm in that?

    I usually get into a pattern of taking my own shower the night before to have one less thing in the morning for me to do, especially since I have to head to work after dropping off the kids. I also set the coffee to brew the night before, and lay out bowls, glasses, and boxes of cereal so that breakfast is fast.

    One thing to know is that it may be depressingly dark as the fall goes on, until the end of daylight savings time. You may find, as an early-start family, that you love standard time more than daylight savings.

    Anyway, in the end, it's all been fine. It will never be perfect, so you adjust your life around the parts that are not.

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  5. I'm not a morning person either and my kids have rarely ever woke up before 7 a.m. But, honestly, the 7:50 start time is not that bad. We get up about 6:45. I jump in the shower, the kids get dressed and Dad gets them breakfast (almost always cold cereal, but they like it), the lunches are packed the night before and I leave with the kids at 7:30. On the plus side, the 7:50 start time means I'm never late for work.

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  6. My husband needs a lot of direction with the morning routine with the kids, so I've found it easier just to organize things myself...alarms go off at 6:45, kids get dressed, eat breakfast and get hair brushed with a 30 min show, by 7:00 kids brush their teeth and get their coats and backpacks on, while I dress and we're out the door by 7:30. It helps that we're walking distance to school, we're on campus by 7:45am and I typically hang around with them for morning assembly before heading back home to get ready for work.
    Showers, lunches, and cloth layout are done the night before.

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  7. Let's hear it for putting your kids to bed in their clothes the night before! Beats all the hassle of getting them to take off their 'warm clothes' in the cold mornings to put on other clothes.

    My son loves to do this (we were at a 7:50 school) and now STILL does it despite a 9:05 start time in middle school (the only difference is: now he has to get himself up, dressed, fed and on the bus to school himself.)

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  8. Last year we were really worried about this issue, too..
    This is how we manage:
    I wake up at 7:00, make the lunch box and the pancake if do not have any muffins or corn bread. In the meanwhile my husband starts waking our daughter up which takes about 20 minutes. Then we dress her up, thanks to uniforms, she is only picky about choosing her tight..
    Then combing the hair, brushing the teeth, we seat her in the car. We leave at 7:35 with pancake or muffin plate in one hand and the milk in sippy cup in other hand. It is very embbarrassing to confess this but she is having her breakfast on the way to school in the car. This is how we managed the first year.

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  9. Thanks for all the good advice so far! I'm the one who asked Kate to post this topic and I'm grateful she did, b/c I feel more relaxed about this already!
    A few have mentioned having the children watch a show while getting ready, and I can see why that works--I may well end up doing the same. Generally, though, our kids don't watch much of anything, so I'm wondering if anyone has other ways of luring them out of a warm bed on a cold morning! I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the TV on in the morning--just looking for even more ideas for getting unwilling people up without nagging...
    Thanks again to everyone--I'm sure many families will benefit from your ingenious solutions.

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  10. For us the tv provides a passive activity that allows them to stay in their pjs just a few minutes longer but also gives them time to wake up and eat. So active playing wouldn't be a good substitute because the eating wouldn't happen.
    Here's another idea though. If your kids are into books of tape you could lure them out of bed with a chapter or 2. You'd still have that gradual 10-15 mins of pj time and get some food into them too.

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  11. My worry is getting my son to bed early enough. If he has to wake up at 6:30 for the 7:50 start time, he needs to be in bed by 7:30. So I arranged to leave work early after school starts and pick him up at 4:30 every day from his aftercare. I'm hoping that extra hour will help us finish the whole dinner/bath/school things sooner. I'll go into work earlier and my husband will be taking our son to school.

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  12. Depending on how young your children are, check the PBS listing for what airs at the time you need. We found that Curious George, which is in 15-minute segments, worked perfectly as a "sit still, I'm not killing you, just brushing your hair" aid, even for a 2nd grader. And having it be at a specific time was helpful.
    I also printed up a big schedule and put it on the refrigerator, saying what time we had to be doing certain things by: wake up, dressed, eat breakfast, hair brush, out the door. Order and lots of "remember, you have to be ready to go in 4 minutes" seemed to help all of us keep on schedule.
    Our school's an 8:40 start, but you can drop off beginning at 8:00, which we do in order to get to work on time. So we leave Glen Park for Potrero Hill at 7:45 most days.
    The one great perk of an early start is much less traffic. If we leave even 20 minutes later, the drive to school can be up to 30 minutes longer!

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  14. I'm planning to practice the getting up & getting out early routine a week before school starts so we're not late on the first day. My kids get up early, but they are used to lingering over breakfast & getting dressed so it will take some practice.

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  15. The chinese characters/spam is getting annoying...Kate?

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  16. Wow, does no one work and have a job they have to be at by 8:00? Our preschool starts at 8:00 and that is a big bummer for us because one of us has to be late to work all the time! We are all excited because our school has before and after school care!

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  17. I hate to say it, but if my son gets resistant to getting up, I put him in the car in his pajamas and he changes while I drive. Not safe, but it has happened. Also, He usually eats breakfast in the car, either trader joe tamale, Amy's bean and cheese burrito, or mini frozen pancakes. i do like being the first person at my office, but I hate everything else about it. It's a 9 year sacrifice in my opinion.

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  18. I like to be in the office before 7:30 a.m. so an early start time is great. I recall in high school having a 7 am start time and never a start time after 8 am in elementary school. Something not really mentioned is bedtime - 7:30 p.m. for the kids and before 10:00 a.m. for the adults helps a lot!

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  19. well, obviously it is the necessary early bedtime that is the real worry. 10!!?? What sort of life is that? I would feel like I was back to having infants in terms of my ability to have a grown up life. Sadly I think it will be a tired, grumpy, and caffeinated deal for us. But, it is probably worth it. Really want to avoid the TV and microwave in the morning, but can understand that it can feel necessary.

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  20. and ya wonder why some people have kids, if a 10pm bedtime is such agony

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  21. I spend tons of time with my kids, and love it. And imagine, I also love having some time to read, think, talk to my husband on our own, do whatever projects are needed or exciting around the house, cook something that takes more than 15 minutes, keep in touch with family and friends all over the world, maybe see a play, concert, or eat out with friends. I wonder at people who have so little that excite them in life that they happily hop into bed before 10.

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  22. I think it's called exhaustion.

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  23. What did you expect parenting to be like? "I'll have kids, but it won't affect my nightlife or social life?"

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  24. We can probably all agree that:

    - Getting sufficient sleep is important (and highly individual in terms of hours needed)

    - Having sufficient time for adult matters of all sorts is important (and highly individual in terms of hours needed)

    Now--back to the topic, please?

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  25. As long as people stop whining.

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  26. I think 10 is late, especially when it's my kids who are up 'til that hour!

    Anyway, I hope we can all get out the door in the morning. Right now, it's still impossible to leave with both kids intact by 9am :-/

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  27. The "sanctimommies" in this blog are insufferable.

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  28. It seems like you either accept the early start time as a family sacrifice (including early bed times as needed) for getting into a school you really want and think will work for your family OR you choose a school with a later start time that you like.

    Everyone has different priorities, obviously.

    For our family we ONLY ended up applying to later start (8:30 on) schools because it just wouldn't have worked for us to get up that early and have to drive across town. It did narrow our choices--which actually isn't such a bad thing.

    I admire the families that are able to make the early start time work and figure out a system that works for them....we just couldn't do it. :)

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  29. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  30. Ok, do we need any more reasons to make people register to post?

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  31. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  33. Oh! to mine website visit :)

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  34. Just FYI, it's not a sacrifice for some of us. We actually chose only early start schools b/c we're morning people and like to have the afternoon free to do stuff. I get that's not the case for everyone, but I always get a little nervous when it's assumed that early start is bad for everyone.

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  35. I'm decidedly NOT a morning person but we did a 7:50 start time for 10 years and survived. For parents who don't work full time it can be great. Even on short winter days there is still daylight after school for homework, playing, activities, and appointments.

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  36. "Just FYI, it's not a sacrifice for some of us. We actually chose only early start schools b/c we're morning people and like to have the afternoon free to do stuff."

    That's why it's great that the district offers choices--(although I guess this is based on the bus schedules, not the needs of parents.) For some folks the later start time schools (9:30) are ideal, too. I can definitely see the early start being a big advantage if you happen to be a morning family.

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  38. With the spam, this blog is turning into a Mandarin Immersion blog.

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  39. My husband and I generally go to bed at 10ish, even though we don't have kids in a 7:50 start time school any more. We've always made the kids go to bed pretty early, too - now that they're a little older they read in bed for a while, which works for everyone.

    I do agree that it's great that there are options with the start times, but it bugs me that they're organized that way because of the bus schedule. It has absolutely nothing to do with making things work for students and their familes - it's so that they can get triple use out of the buses. 7:50 start is too early for a lot of kids to learn at their best.

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  40. Help, Kate!

    The huge amount of spam is making this blog almost unreadable.

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  41. 9:30

    True that it is frustrating that decisions on start-time are made to make triple-use of buses, but then, given the financial meltdown and 30 years of de-funding the schools, it is also a prudent use of resources. I am okay with being forced into a less convenient start time if it means more resources for the schools. The district does not have any margin to play with.

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  43. 11:55 ...

    is it really so hard to just click by the chinese spam? You must have an awfully short fuse.

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  44. Why do YOU bother to comment? You must have a short fuse.

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