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School Days

Written by Ashley

How to get them out the door in the morning
and into bed at night

Back-to-School Twins

When your twins go to school for the first time, it can be bittersweet. You are excited for them to learn and grow and meet new friends (and maybe even more excited to have a little bit of free time), but trying to get into the swing of things can also be extremely stressful. And with twins, there's twice as much to be done. It's especially tough on working moms.

The key to it all is routine and schedule. As a mother of twins, you're probably already familiar with this survival technique, and you need to continue with this approach now more than ever.

Bedtime Routine

Let's start with the dreaded bedtime. Trust me on this: Put your kids in bed at 7:30 p.m. every night. I know this sounds crazy, and I laughed the first time someone told me to do this, but they really need it! You will be amazed at how much going to school all day can wear out your little ones.

It took about a week to get the routine set. At first, my twin boys chatted a bit, rolled around, and kept yelling for me. Then things fell into place. For the last two years, my twins have gone to bed at 7:30 p.m. during the school year and wake up at 7:00 a.m. on the dot. I even have to wake them up some mornings! Give it a try. I promise you will be amazed.

I used to buy into that "my son is just one of those kids who needs less sleep" crapola. Now I am drinking my glass of wine and watching "The Real Housewives" at 8:00 p.m. while other moms are wrestling and fighting to get their kids to sleep. Oh, and then after those moms finally succeed, the kids wake up exhausted and cranky and can't focus. Put your kids to bed at 7:30 p.m. and kiss those days goodbye!

Morning Routine

Get your twins into a rhythm so the mornings are smooth sailing. Make a checklist and post it in their bedroom. Make it very simple:

1. Wake up

2. Get dressed

3. Have breakfast

4. Brush teeth

5. Brush hair

6. Take vitamin

I did this when the boys started kindergarten, and they loved it. They felt in charge and liked the routine.

I hide a basket in the kitchen with everything they need after breakfast. The basket holds hairbrushes, a spray bottle of water for unruly hair, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and vitamins. I take it out while they are eating breakfast and set it by the sink. After they're done with breakfast, they go right to the sink "station" to brush their teeth, brush their hair, and take their vitamins. (We use the kitchen sink, but any sink that is close to the breakfast table will work.)

I don't allow any TV in the morning. I tell my kids that once they have completed the checklist for getting ready, then and only then can they play quietly. Otherwise, one twin will undoubtedly finish everything first (everything is a competition) and turn the TV on. This is distracting for the other child, who now just wants to watch TV and can't focus on getting ready.

The Night Before

Taking care of some things the night before also helps to make the mornings less hectic:

  • Lay out their clothes. Lay out everything—shirt, pants, underwear, socks, and shoes. Your kids can help pick out their outfits. Get consensus on the outfits (especially with girls) so there are no issues in the morning about what they will wear. Remind them that the first thing they should do when they get up is get dressed. I have a rule that my kids can't come in my room and wake me up until they are dressed.
  • Pack lunches and/or snacks. I have everything packed before we go to bed, except items that need to be refrigerated. The kids can help pick out things like their snacks, drink, chips, and fruit. This way, all you have to do is make the sandwich or throw the string cheese or yogurt in the bag in the morning.
  • Get backpacks packed up and ready to go. This eliminates the crazy running around frantically looking for homework or papers in the morning.

My twins just started second grade. Because I implemented this schedule when the boys started kindergarten, my mornings are a breeze. I can get up, have coffee, shower, and get ready while they are doing their routine. It has literally allowed me to be the working mom that I am today.

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