Tips & Tricks for Riding the Bus
'Tis school bus season. Many of us oh-so-weary, coffee starved parental units have a love-hate relationship with the bus. First of all, as far as I'm concerned, there's a small window of time that suits our huge family just perfect to get all four kids up, fed, dressed, backpacks at the ready, teeth brushed, faces washed and on the bus calmly. If the bus comes too early, we're simply doomed. My kids aren't good rushers. If we get up late, we're doomed. Again, the rushing thing just doesn't work here. Too many human beings to manage in a short period of time equals mayhem.
After a few years of practice, we're managing mornings and bus schedules better – definitely not perfect, but better. I've compiled a list of tips and tricks to help my fellow groggy moms and dads master the morning bus routine.
Get Up On Time, Dang It!
Seriously. Turn off the television and go to bed early once in a while, Mom and Dad. Just because you put the kids to bed on time doesn't guarantee that you will want to get out of bed when the alarm goes off. When my 8-year-old started getting herself up at 6 in the morning while I snoozed for an extra half-hour, that was my signal to stop staying up late. I wasn't setting the best example by trying to sneak in some extra shut-eye.
Set a "Bus Is Near" Alarm.
With five kids to manage, I have all kinds of alarms set on my phone. One of those alarms goes off 10 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive in the morning, so everyone knows that time is running out. If you've got little ones, make the alarm a silly sound or a song that makes them smile.
Do not turn on the television for the kids. Play music.
My husband is a TV-head. Every now and then he turns on a cartoon for them in the morning. Lately I've had to demand he keep it turned off because our kids turn into breakfast-avoiding zombies if there's a cartoon playing, which just delays everything and causes eventual disaster – more specifically, missing the bus. Playing cheerful music instead of turning on a cartoon wakes the kids up and keeps them engaged without being glued to a screen throughout our morning routine.
Arrive at the bus stop early.
We almost missed the bus one day last week when the driver pulled up five minutes early. We were standing outside our front door. Fortunately, she was nice enough to pull up in front of our house and wait for the kids to stroll down and meet her. Many bus drivers won't do that.
Talk about good bus behavior.
While you might have had the "school behavior talk," you may not have had the "bus behavior talk." It's easy to forget that there's a human being driving that bus full of kiddos, and parents who prepare and encourage their kids to behave on the ride will help the driver in the long run.
Last week, our 3- and 4-year-old started fighting nice and loud with each other on the bus, resulting in a grumpy driver and a very understanding, but concerned, bus helper. I'd never thought to talk to 3-year-old, a new bus rider, about how he should behave on the bus. Since then, we've talked about good bus behavior every morning and we have those two sitting on the bus separately from now on.
EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. This post is adapted from her blog, FourLittleMonsters.com.