5 steps to smooth mornings

Mornings are rough – especially in a household where everyone is going in separate directions.  That’s why it’s vital to create a routine for the morning.  Here are some tips on how to make the most of the mornings and still get out of the house on time.

#1. Start planning on the weekend.
Create a Sunday routine of prepping for the week to come.  Plan out a lunch menu for the week, chop up veggies for lunches and dinners, and pre-bag any snacks your kids or you will be brown-bagging to make for an easy grab-and-go.  Pick out your outfits for the week and make sure that everything is neatly pressed. 

#2. Include the night before in your morning prep.
Bag up any parts of the lunches that can be made the night before without getting soggy or gross.  Make sure all papers and folders are signed.  Have your child pick out their clothes and lay them out. 

#3. Wake up earlier.
Always feel like you’re rushing in the morning?  Consider waking up 30 minutes earlier.  Those extra 30 minutes create time to brew your coffee, put the dishes away, start making breakfast, and have a few moments of peace and quiet as you mentally prepare for the day.

#4. Same ol’ routine…
When every morning is the same, things are less likely to be forgotten. Here’s my personal routine:

6am – wake up, make coffee, feed cat, and start cooking breakfast (oatmeal for kids, eggs for me). Daughter is already up and taking shower.
6:30am – wake son up (he takes his shower the night before, as do I). Both kids dress and eat breakfast.  I go upstairs and finish getting ready (hair, make-up, clothes I picked out the night before).
6:45am – kids put their dishes away and make their lunches. 
7am – I’m done getting ready, put my lunch together (generally leftovers already boxed up and ready to pack).  Make sure kids have everything they need for the day – papers signed, gym clothes in bag, lunches packed, teeth brushed, shoes and socks on. 
7:20-7:30am – make sure lights and coffee pot are off and leave for school and work.

Your routine will look different, depending on how much your kids are able to do by themselves, and how much you have to do for them.  As it is, our routine actually has extra time factored in.  This gives the kids time to lag in the morning, as kids are prone to do.  I totally recommend giving yourself more time than you need, just in case milk spills, breakfast burns, someone has a bad hair day, or a kid oversleeps or prefers to lay on his floor for 30 minutes rather than getting ready. 

And don’t underestimate the power of bribery.  My son was a classic example of never being ready on time because he would lag way too much.  But being the video game junkie he is, I bribed him by allowing him to play video games in the morning only if he has everything ready for the day.  No joke, he now gets ready in 15 minutes flat so he can have 30 full minutes of mind-numbing play time.  If you have a kid who lags, consider rewarding promptness as part of their requirements for earning allowance, for extra TV time, or anything else that is going to encourage them to get off their butts and get ready.

However, even the most anal routine is still prone to hiccups and forgetfulness…. 

Last night I made egg salad for the kids’ lunches, and packed up a couple containers of leftovers for my own lunches.  I got ready in record time and even had time to run a fresh iron over my shirt for extra crispness.  My daughter’s freshly laundered gym clothes were in her bag, and both their lunches rocked.  I dropped each kid off at school early, and was early to work.  And it wasn’t till I was sitting down at my desk did I remember that my son’s homework folder, the one that I needed to go through every weekend and then sign before he returned it on Monday, still lay untouched in his backpack without my signature.

Oops.

And this leads me to step #5 (one that we still need to implement):

#5. Create a checklist of must-dos.
…and teach your child (and yourself) to check off each item as they’re done.  Best place to keep it?  By the door so you’re sure not to miss it.

What do you do to make mornings go smoother? 

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