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I wanted to share Our Before School Rule because if your house is anything like mine, the hour or two before school are the crucial hours — they have the potential to be the worst part of your day if you let it. I recently shared the 3 words your kids need to hear before school, so today, I wanted to tell you our before-school rule that makes all the difference.

Before School Rule - child & parent walking to school


Having children brings a whole new perspective to being on time for anything.  Whether it’s your baby that needs to nurse the MOMENT you are ready to step out the door, your potty-training toddler that has to go potty as you’re ready to leave for the doctor’s appointment, or your 6-year-old dragging their feet on a school morning.  Sometimes it seems you have no control!

Over the years, I have certainly come up with a lot of tips and tricks to help you get out the door during the school year, but even I know that many days, some things are just out of your control!

But what I have also learned (and remind myself of daily) is that what is most important in those 1-2 hours before school is NOT that my kids are dressed appropriately with teeth brushed and hair combed.  It is NOT that I fed them a nutritionally sound breakfast. And it is NOT that they arrived at school on time.  

What’s My Rule (For ME!) On School Mornings?

Sure, those things are reallllyy important, don’t get me wrong.  However, what is most important is that I send my kids off to school with good memories of our morning.  They remember the home as their safe haven and me as their best friend.
Not that I fussed at our kids this morning because someone was dragging their feet getting out of bed and then spilled abowl of cereal.  Not that my kids got into an argument, and I yelled at them for not working things out.

Because it’s true what they say, “the way we talk becomes our child’s inner voice,” which means that what we say in the morning will replay in their minds all day long. We must do what we can to keep frustration, stress, and negativity at bay in those few hours before school.

Because when my kids get to school, they are away from me for a full 6-8 hours.  And I don’t know what they will face when they are out of my loving arms.  

  • Will there be bullies?  
  • The fear of fitting in?
  • No one to sit with at lunch?  
  • Subjects they just can’t grasp?  
  • Being left out at recess?
  • Picked last for a project or game?
  • Worry that they may have missed an assignment or forgot to do something for homework?

Or maybe I do know what they will face at school – Bullies, the fear of fitting in, no one to sit with at lunch, feeling left out, homework assignments, and school subjects they just don’t get.  

So knowing that, how can I send them to school stressed out and anxious from MY behavior?  

The Before-School Rule for Parents (that means everything to our children):

So the one before-school rule I try to keep in our house is that regardless of the circumstances: I will bite my tongue and refrain from fussing at, nagging at, complaining to, at or reprimanding my kids over anything that is not life or death.  

Is this a hard rule to keep?  Yes! Especially when little irritating things start to add up in the mornings, and I just CAN NOT for the life of me understand why my kids can’t seem to find two matching shoes as we are headed out the door.  

Do I keep this rule perfectly every day?  No…because I’m human.  

But is it worth the extra effort to try and make it happen most days?  Absolutely.  

Before School Rule - child & parent walking to school

And don’t think I give my kids a free pass on behavior, attitudes, or actions that don’t fly in our home.  I usually say a simple “We can talk about it this afternoon,” and then I address it that same day.

Related: Consequences for Kids that Actually Work

Time & Distance Make Little Things A LOT Less Important

But you know what?  Once those six hours have passed, and we’re not on a timeline, and we’ve all had a little distance, it’s much easier to discuss those silly things.  And it’s also a lot easier to devise a viable plan of action to fix those problems.

And perhaps most importantly, that time and distance remind me that whatever it was I was all stressed and irritated about that morning isn’t really a big deal.  

And that this time in my life will pass all too quickly.  That the days of them wanting me to lay with them when they wake up will all too soon be replaced with teenage hormones and a biological need to pull away from me.  

What Will Your Kids Really Remember?

And I realize that ten years from now, my children probably won’t remember how they drove me batty because I could not keep their pants from touching their socks (true story).  

Instead, they will remember that each time they went to school, they had a feeling of peace and calm and that they knew, no matter how bad the day may go, the morning was good and that I would be home waiting for them.

I would love to hear what you do in the mornings to make things go smoother for you and your family!

Read More: The 3 Words We Should Be Telling Our Kids Every Single Day.

3 words we should be telling our kids

More Ideas and Posts To Help You Have a Great Day:

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Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. We strive for this! I have learned that my kiddos argue less and drag their feet less when Alexa reminds them of things. She reminds them at 7 am to make sure they are dressed and ready. She reminds them at 7:20 that shoes need to be on and they need to be outside in 10 minutes for the bus. Then she reminds us to get out to the bus. If they miss it I just throw them in the car and drop them off on my way to work. They don’t fight Alexa and just do it. So I can be the supportive Mom and be with them however we need in the mornings. I also have a no phone/I-pad rule in the morning.

    1. That’s a great idea – plus, it probably helps them to stay on track by following the same routine/time each morning (since Alexa is more ‘scheduled’ than we tend to be! lol!)

  2. Loved this. We try the same. Spend a little time cuddling with the kids in the morning. Having some productive time with them as they prep their lunch with me and try to bite my tongue in the last 10 mins dash to get out the door. And we always say goodbye with a joke. We say the same three things to each other, as I wave them goodbye and their dad walks them to school, kisses, I love you and seaweed. Family joke and we say it all in Greek too (I have half Greek with still a long way to be fluent at Greek. But they know these three phrases/words and we say them to each other each morning as they go off to school or kindergarten).

  3. This is so good! Thank you for the reminder. What I’ve done to turn things around even if we are not able to do what you’ve mentioned is to ask the kids the following in the car as we pull up to school “Are you going to have a great day? Are you going to be kind? Are you going to work hard? Do you know how much I love you?” Their response is always a Yes and sometimes we have fun with it by saying “I can’t hear you” and have them yell yes! 😁

    1. We have a house full of ADHD. Prepping for the morning at night is crucial. Lay out the clothes. Pack the lunches and pack the backpack. Put in their spot by the door. Have time increments prepared, such as we finish breakfast by 7:00. We put our going to school clothes on after we clear breakfast…and so on.

  4. Great advice here. Our children need our home as a sanctuary and we need to be mindful that our words become their inner voice may be through that day or in years to come.

  5. We strive to do the same thing! It’s so hard with two high energy boys, especially when my husband and I also need to get out the house on time as we both work full time jobs. But it’s a great reminder. Thank you!

  6. Thank yoj so much for the reminder. Getting ready is stressful!! But remembering home is a safe haven from the storm is the most important thing. This article pulls you out of a rut and gives us moms a goid reason to make things better.

  7. This is so sweet I’m in tears. I’m definitely implementing this. We’re on the same page girl ❤

  8. Muchas gracias por el consejo. Quizás el mayor desafío es hacer un trabajo conmigo misma.

  9. I agree with almost all of this. The part I find myself disagreeing with is the part about being their friend, that is more so for later stages in life after they’ve individuated. Now they need you to be the person they see uphold things in (yes in a friendly & compassionate manner). But, I have seen too many students confuse friendly, confidant & parent. Then parents struggle when they don’t want you to be their friend & need you to be their parent. I do everything you do too, but I remind them (from time to time), I am a parent first and your biggest cheerleader always, but there will be times I can’t be your friend and have to be mom & say things friends may not or cannot.

    1. I agree- I think that when she wrote: “best friend,” in this sense, she meant exactly what you said: You are their biggest cheerleader and will guide them – and on top of being a best friend to them (the one that we hope they turn to), we are lucky enough to get to be their parents, too, and that comes with all of the other stuff (say things friends cannot). I think she was saying that you can be both: a parent first & a best friend, too, when they need you.

  10. I absolutely love this article. In fact I’m going to print it out so I always have it as a reminder. Thank you for sharing this!

  11. My daughter is newly 12.a really sweet an innocent young girl. I over compensate bc of my abusive upbringing….too much….i am guilty of going extra to protect her from my pain that haunts me today….but….in my opinion… respectfully…there is wayyyyy to much coddling …too much not wanting to stress kids,too much not subjecting them to actual work, actual life situations….we are not preparing them for the real world which to me is not only wrong but should be stopped….we should not need corrupt Alexia to give well Abled kids reminders every few min to things they should ( exceptions excluded ) more than capable of doing told once…the tablet,the cc instant complaints….basic education,ethics everything are being replaced by things that should not even be up for debate as they are…i know I may not be making sense and stop abruptly…but it’s a topic that causes me great frustration….the suggestions given are good for sure…but in the big picture…………….thank you

  12. Our kid is in preschool and we do dance parties before school! He’s not allowed his phone/iPad and we make sure he’s his happy silly self before he leaves.

  13. Thank you for opening my eyes to this. I’ve been a bear of a mom lately in the mornings. I’ve lost my patience and sent them to school probably feeling upset and not prepared for the day. You’ve reminded me that I can set them up for success every morning by letting the little things go. Basically, I need I chill out and do everything I can to make those two hours peaceful! I really needed to read that.. lately it’s been my biggest flaw as a mom.

  14. When my son hit the bathtub by 7 pm, getting to kindergarten on time worked without stress. When he didn’t, the next morning was stressful.

  15. As a public school counselor, parent, and of course former child myself… I love this article!!!! Yes!!!!! I say that there are 3 things that can ruin a child’s day before school starts (and then walk through the doors already defeated 😔)….
    1. Home
    2. Bus or walk
    3. CELL PHONES/social media

    Which of these can you control or eliminate stress/problems and increase the chance of your child walking in the door feeling amazing & ready to learn????