Four life hacks for time-poor parent-teachers

Grainne Hallahan used to spend mornings in a ‘chaotic tornado’. But these shortcuts get her family ready in record time

time teacher hacks hourglass counting down

In my pre-baby days, my before-work routine was pretty dreamy.

I didn’t think so at the time, of course. 

Occasionally, Facebook reminds me of my complaints about feeling exhausted.


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Oh, stupid 2011 Grainne, you think you’re tired? You haven’t even begun to know the meaning of the word.

Now, in a post-baby world, my morning routine is rather different. 

In the early days of returning to work after my second daughter was born, my family existed in a perpetual chaotic tornado; we destroyed one area of the house before moving on to the next, leaving a trail of mayhem in our wake. 

I’d arrive at school without my marked books, or my daughter would be delivered to childcare without underwear on. (That only happened once. Possibly twice.) 

Something had to change. We couldn’t give the children back and I couldn’t quit my job. So, instead, we transformed our morning routine into a military operation. 

That phrase became a mantra for our household: every troop had to fall in, and ensure the mission was completed without casualties.

Here’s our morning drill:

Clothes bagged and ready to go

On Sunday night, my husband or I put five outfits for each child (including socks and underwear) into gift bags and hang them on a hook behind the door.

In the morning, you grab the bag and get dressed. It avoids any last-minute panic about finding clean clothes. 

Breakfast basics

Laying the breakfast table the night before may make you feel like a plonker, but it genuinely makes the morning a lot easier (especially if your dining table also doubles as a dumping pit). 

A clutter-free table can shave minutes off your morning personal best. I highly recommend starting kids off with a banana before they have cereal – this stops my little terrors eating six bowls of cornflakes. 

Overnight oats

Cooking can be a really lovely thing to share with your children, but no one wants to be doing that at 6.30 in the morning.

Overnight oats are a great compromise. There are loads of recipes on Pinterest that your children will be racing to the table to eat and it really couldn’t be simpler: oats, milk, fruit, fridge.

Music as a timer

I don’t know why this works, but it does. I have a morning playlist that I play through the television from my phone, with each song counting down an activity they need to do: brush teeth, get dressed, put shoes on, find bags. I’m a little less shouty, and it’s a nice way to start the day.

Grainne Hallahan is a senior content writer at Tes and tweets @heymrshallahan

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