Getting back into the swing of school mornings can be rough. The mornings are rushed, the tempers are short, and the coffee may not fully be pulsing through your veins quite yet. While we don't guarantee a fool-proof system, doing some minor things prior to the first morning of school starting can really help elevate the pain for everyone around the home, and it may even ensure enough time to swing through the Starbucks drive-thru for a cup of coffee on the way to morning drop-off.
1. Enough sleep is vital. (For everyone!)
Did you know that according to the National Sleep Foundation, the normal school-aged child (classified between 5-10 years old) should be getting 10-11 hours of sleep every day? You may scoff and think, "Well, they've never met my child!" However, this is a goal that should try to be obtained by everyone, in order for them to reach their fullest potential -- physically, mentally, and emotionally. Additionally, research conducted by Stanford University shows that the average teenager needs more sleep than a normal adult; about 8 and a half to 9 hours worth every night. Enforcing bed times is a start, but also instilling the necessary tools for getting a good night's sleep at an early age is crucial to providing life-long sleep success:
- Sleep experts recommend putting away all media at least 30 minutes before bed time, including cell phones, iPads, and television.
- Avoid providing any snacks after dinner time, especially the closer you get to bed time.
- Establish a calming routine which may include a warm bath and some light reading in bed.
- Limit bright and natural lights by using a dim lamp or night light, closing all curtains, and using a low-light alarm clock.
- Keep the room and all clothing cool in temperature, rather than overly warm.
- Use a white noise machine.
- Ensure a comfortable mattress that accommodates all kinds of sleepers (side, back, stomach) and pillow.
Part of going back to school and establishing a new routine may involve sprucing up your child's bedroom. Knowing the amount of sleep that a person should get every night, a quality-made mattress may be one of the best investments you can make for your child. The Hula Bed from the Hula Bedding Company is the perfect mattress for your entire family.
Picture with us, if you will, the "traditional" way to purchase a mattress. You drag the family into a mattress store. Immediately, you get bombarded by commission-based sales people that try to "help" you (aka: annoy you) navigate to your perfect bed, based on one or two questions. Awkwardly, you steer them away from a mattress that costs more than a vehicle, and cringe as the "cheaper" ones kind of resemble a mortgage payment. You jump on the bed, and lay down, fully dressed and even donning shoes. The sales person hangs out right alongside you the entire time. You think that bed feels good, but then again, how would you know? Do you normally sleep in your shoes in a warehouse with onlookers? The bed gets delivered, and it feels different. It smells weird, and is a lot more firm than you remember. Now you're stuck, with nothing but hope that you eventually "break in" the bed, and you learn to love it.
The idea of a "bed in a box" is newer, and is taking the nation by storm. Instead of the weird experience above, buying a mattress online and having it shipped directly to your door is the way to go! First, it removes the pushy salesman, and the commission's write-up along with it. Mattresses bought directly from the manufacturer are much more affordable compared to a store. You also know that the item you're getting is 100% legit, and no corners were cut along the way. Third, you're supporting a real life small business, rather than a large big-box store, commissions, and a massive company that mass produces items using sometimes questionable ingredients.
We fell in love with the Hula Bed and the story behind the company. Most important is their commitment to having an eco-conscious mattress. Here's what the Hula Bed consists of, broken down by layers:
Layer 1: The cover that comes directly in contact with you is made from heavy-duty Tencel material. It’s more absorbent than cotton, softer than silk and cooler than linen – the Tencel cover is the perfect finishing touch to the best mattress you’ll ever own. This material is also the topper to the included Hula Pillow, as well. Underneath the Tencel cover is the 2" thick coconut foam comfort layer. Hula coconut foam consists of 30% natural coconut polyol that is water blown, and proven to be respectful to our environment. It’s also 200% more breathable than conventional foams so it's a naturally cool sleep experience. Instead of a gross-smelling mattress, when you remove the Hula Bed from the bag, a lovely aroma of coconut greets you - which is always a bonus to us!
Layer 2: consists of 2” of viscoelastic memory foam to provide contouring support and pressure relief.
Layer 3: consists of 2" of high-density and ultra firm foam, that is engineered to prevent that "sinking feeling" that you may get laying in other foam mattresses.
Layer 4: is the base layer which consists of 4” of high density foam for long term support and durability.
Our favorite features of the Hula Bed are:
- It's shipped directly to you. It's compressed tightly into a roll, and then put into a box and will arrive at your doorstep, ready to cut out of the plastic (with the enclosed cutter) and be placed on any box spring or platform style bed frame.
- Hula Bed is 100% American Made; from the business headquartered in Michigan, to the mattress manufactured in Southern California.
- It has a 90 Day Comfort Guarantee. They know you will love your new mattress, and to prove it, will let you try it out in the comfort of your own home for 90 days. If, within that time, you decide it isn't for you, contact them and they will pick it up from your doorstep for free, and give you a full refund - no questions asked.
- Hula Bed is affordable! Depending on the size you'd like, the price ranges from $600 for a twin size, up to $995 for a California King size. It is budget friendly, allowing you to add more Hula Beds into your home, so every single family member can have the best night's sleep possible. If that's too much money for your budget all at once, flexible payment plans are also available from their website.
- It's natural. The ethically harvested coconut are assembled by your friends and neighbors. Both the mattress and the pillow are also Oeko-Tex certified to not include any harmful substances, and are also hypoallergenic and antimicrobial.
About The Brand:
The Hula Bedding Company first began as a dream from a Mom-Entrepreneur. She dreamed of creating the perfect mattress, made of natural ingredients that she felt comfortable having her own children sleep on every single night. Natural ingredients were her #1 priority, and the affordability was a close second. She and her family reside in Eastern Michigan, in an outskirt of Detroit. Seeing firsthand how the recession hit the Michigan economy was eye-opening for most Michigan residents. Detroit declared bankruptcy. Most small businesses in the area were closing shop, and everything seemed to be shipped out of state or country. She wanted to make sure that everything for Hula Bedding Company remained American-made, so it benefitted the economy within Michigan, and also the United States as a whole. The products themselves also had to be affordable enough for the average family in America as well, because good sleep on a quality made mattress shouldn't be a privilege only for the wealthy. After months of testing prototypes, and an entire home basement full of foam samples, the perfect Hula Bed was created.
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2. Start the night before.
As the saying goes: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. With the morning rush in full swing, it's easy to become completely overwhelmed, frustrated, and forgetful -- later, cursing the last minute trips to the school to drop off the forgotten gym clothes still somewhat damp from the dryer. Preparing the night before with all of the next morning's necessities is crucial to making each morning less chaotic and a lot less stressful. After dinner clean up, prep lunch boxes and stow away in the fridge for an easy grab the next morning. Have tomorrow's outfit picked out and set aside, homework completed and placed back in the backpack, and all extra curricular activity necessities washed and packed. Depending on your child's age, have your child prepare the night before so that they understand the importance of being responsible for themselves and their own needs.
If you're looking for an affordable way to organize your child's bedroom so they can be ready to go every morning, look no further than the Skyler Collection from Cosco. You can use the Skyler 3 Drawer Dresser with Cubbies to keep his clothing off the floor and folded and organized, and the dresser is small enough to fit in virtually any space, and affordable enough to fit your stressed-out back to school budget. Use the 3 drawers to conceal clothing, blankets, towels, and then add in some cubbies into the two top spaces to store some toys, electronics cords, or even socks and undies. The drawers and cubbies are very easy to open and shut, and the fresh white veneer gives the entire line a clean and modern look inside the room. Once your child grows up, the cubbies can be taken out and the space can be used to store trophies, awards, or even books.
The Skyler Kid's Nightstand is the perfect spot to keep their bedside needs close by, and easily houses a lamp, alarm clock, and maybe even a noise machine. You can use the top shelf for storing smaller items like a book or kindle tablet. The open cubby area is perfect to tuck larger items away, and keep everything looking tidy and not cluttered. Once they outgrow using cubbies, the generous size is great for a jewelry box, or anything, really! Once again, it's designed with clean lines and a bright white color, so you can update their bedroom and organize a small child's room space, all for under $100!
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3. Make wake-ups pleasant.
Some of us are not morning people, and some might even argue that there is no such thing as an early-rising teenager. Grumpiness takes over and makes for the difficult task of getting yourself and your child out of bed and moving. Instead of resorting to a battle of wills between you and your sleepy head child, try to make wake-ups more pleasant. Come up with a fun little tune that you can sing as you gently rub their back, bring them a cup of their favorite juice, open the curtains and let the natural light in, or download a fun tune to play as their morning alarm clock. Begin the day positively.
4. Have a routine in place.
Take the guesswork out of mornings for both you and your child by having a set routine in place for each school morning. If necessary, write it out and have the routine posted where everyone can see it and know what is expected of them each morning. Things you may want to include in your routine are wake-up times, baths/showers, brushing teeth/general hygiene, eating breakfast, gathering items such as backpacks and lunch boxes, and a specific time to be out the door. When everyone knows what is expected of them each morning and a timeline is established, the less likely morning struggles will arise.
5. Make breakfast.
Breakfast is in fact the most important meal of the day. The first rush of nutrients in the morning provides the body much-needed energy as well as restoring the blood glucose level to normal after hours of fasting. Such boosts not only improve physical health, but also mental health, giving your child the brain power he or she needs to tackle the school day. If stress is something that plagues your family, eating a healthy breakfast first thing in the morning is also linked to lowering the amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, in your blood. Lastly, skipping breakfast is linked to higher rates of obesity, an epidemic among American children. For all of these reasons and more, start each day by providing a healthy breakfast for you and your family. Even if cooking is out of the question, there are many whole food options such a yogurt, oatmeal, fruits, and nuts that can opt for a quick, easy, and on-the-go breakfast option. Focus on including carbohydrates and protein for long-lasting energy and hunger satiation.
6. Wake before your children.
Ever notice how rushed, tired, and behind you feel on those mornings when your child wakes you up? Even if you aren't running late time-wise, waking up at the same time as the kids makes for a more chaotic morning as you try to take care of yourself and everyone else, let alone get in one ounce of caffeine before all chaos ensues. Savor the early morning silence while everyone else is still sleeping. Get dressed in peace. Enjoy a cup of coffee. Scroll through the morning news without distractions. Workout. Waking up at least an hour before the rest of the family is crucial to keeping your frustrations at bay and making for a smooth transition, as you will be able to focus on yourself first, then the rest of the family.
7. Rid the family of distractions.
Make mornings a technology-free zone. Eliminate the distraction of morning cartoons, social media, video games, and all other time sucking activities by not allowing them as part of your morning routine. According to recent reports, teens spend 9 hours a day using media -- whether that's watching TV, scrolling through facebook, or playing video games, to name a few. For tweens, those ages 8-12, an average of 6 hours a day are spent using media. If students are spending anywhere from six to nine hours a day in school, when are they fitting in all of those hours using media? The answer: first thing in the morning and after school, when homework is supposed to be done. Cut back on the amount of time your child is tuned-in, and you'll find productivity on the rise. Get the day moving in a positive direction by having designated family time around the breakfast table -- a great time to bond and open conversation with your children.
8. Have visible clocks throughout.
Make children responsible for their time. Place visible clocks in your child's room, the bathrooms, and the kitchen. Set up a time schedule in your morning routine so that your children understand time constraints. By having your child be accountable for their own time, they learn valuable life-long time management skills and personal responsibility. They are also a great learning tool for younger children learning the concept of time and time-telling. A final bonus, you place a lot of the responsibility on the child and off of you, preventing the endless nagging of a slow mover.
Each tip provided here will hopefully bring you one step closer to a smooth and easy school morning, but even though we may do our very best to initiate a good start to the school day, sometimes things just don't go as planned - and with that in mind, our last little suggestion for making school mornings easier is to remain flexible, embrace the unexpected, and always, coffee first.