New School Start Times: An Update and How We are Making it Work

As a follow-up to my June 1 post The New JPPSS School Times are Wrecking My World,  I wanted to share how we are managing (or trying to) our new back-to-school routine that’s coupled with a much-too-early start time.

We are thankful that school is back. We will make it work. This is my mantra. After way too long of our pandemic break, everyone in my house is thankful for the opening of schools. Even after three delays, we took it in stride and tried to stay positive. Your family’s school re-entry decision should absolutely meet your own comfort level. For us, it wasn’t even a question as we knew that our children needed the routine and exposure to the traditional school environment. I talked about the safety procedures with my daughters so they would know what to expect. I also remind them almost daily that everyone (teachers included) are adjusting to this strange time and doing the best that they can with technology challenges and safety requirements. Everyone deserves a little grace!

Because the adjustment for us includes a start time that is one hour earlier than last year  (in addition to the pandemic laziness bounce back), we are implementing a few back-to-school routines in our house to make the transition — and our mornings– a bit easier.

Prepare the Night Before

We lay out uniforms, review papers in the folders, prep the snack bags, and locate the water bottles/masks/shoes all the night before. We do as much as we can before we find ourselves in the morning craze.

Set Expectations

We talk about how the mornings will be early and discuss what each person is responsible for doing in the morning. Each child awakes to their own alarm, which I find helps a ton in minimizing the grumpy tantrums from my youngest (age 5). We give ample time for dressing and breakfast and about 10 minutes extra just in case. Each child must dress herself/himself, brush hair and teeth, and locate socks and shoes BEFORE coming downstairs to the kitchen. This buys them some time to wake up and also gets a few things underway before I have to interact with them at all! (Hint: time allowed for coffee prep!) It also encourages independence and a sense of responsibility for helping to get themselves to school.

Leave Early

So far, we have been able to get in the car 5-10 minutes early just to have some breathing space. Because we have a bit of a drive to get to school, the elimination of car stress is a game-changer for the driver (MOM)! Knowing I don’t have to rush or panic if there is roadwork on the way allows me to relax on the way to school, which ultimately is better for everyone’s mood.

Get Enough Sleep

None of the kids are thrilled about the implementation of earlier bedtimes again, but the parents sure do enjoy it! Our kids, ages 5-10 are starting showers and winding down at 7:30 pm. This seems very early (“But Mom, the sun’s still up!) but it’s a necessity at our house. We are setting out uniforms and prepping for the next day until about 8:30 pm when it’s lights out! There have been complaints every night about not enough tech time or “I’m not sleepy yet!” but we are sticking to it. My kids (and their parents) need their sleep, and there is only one way to start a new bedtime routine: get started!

As a mom, I am so thankful to the brave teachers who are adjusting to the new start times, safety protocols, and their own families’ scheduling. We know it’s been a rough start, and we praise you for showing up. I promise to try my best to send my kids to you well-rested, well-prepared for their day, and (hopefully) with smiles on their faces… even if you can’t really see them under their masks.

Rachel Harris Ledet
A New Orleans native and entrepreneurial mom, Rachel maintains a daily balance of running her own marketing firm, 30|90 Marketing, managing her kids’ schedules, and maintaining an active extracurricular life including teaching dance, volunteering, and instructing a digital marketing class at UNO. Rachel lives in Mandeville with her best friend and husband Lenny, daughters Addison and Amelia, stepson Luke, and new baby Tucker. With a growing family and a million balls in the air, Rachel keeps things light by continuously learning, spending time with amazing friends, blogging, finding any route to a concert or outdoor festival, and planning her next getaway with her husband. A sense of humor can get you through almost anything, so she tends to surround herself with fabulous and very funny people.

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