When we were kids, I remember mom asking us every night to put our school uniforms out, backpacks and shoes by the front door, and place any particular school work, on the dining table.
It was a routine our mom established at home and, truthfully, I do not recall one occasion when I was late for school or running out the door with breakfast in my hand. It was one smooth process that I aim to establish at our home too.
Below are 5 strategies we are implementing at home for happier mornings. It all starts the day before. Just a few evening efforts will help ease the next morning’s rush.
1. Do Your Homework
Nothing like remembering important commitments, appointments and events last minute, to make a morning frantic. Make it a routine to ‘do homework’ with your kids each day.
- Check your children’s folders and backpacks as soon as they come home from school. Look for homework that is due, review papers, sign permission slips, and help prepare their backpacks for the next day.
- While your children are doing homework, sort paperwork, file what needs to be filed, toss what needs to be tossed, display important notes on a family board (or command center), and put back in their folders any kind of paper that needs to be sent back to school.
- Write down important dates and reminders on your calendar, phone or personal agenda.
2. Evening Efforts Ease Morning’s Rush
Make it a routine to have your children pick up their rooms before going to bed. Waking up to an orderly home is important. As the path is clear to start the day, so is your mind. You too, pick up and clean up the kitchen before going to bed. Here are some things we do:
- If possible, prepare the lunchboxes the night before. Sandwiches, hard boiled eggs or pasta salad can be prepared the night before, while you are making dinner.
- Have a ‘school lunches’ station. I have one in the fridge where I place juice boxes, yogurt pouches and pre-washed fresh fruit. Everything is at my fingertips, I only have to grab it and put it in the lunchbox.
- Turn on the dishwasher. Nothing like finding a clear counter, empty sink and clean dishes and mugs each morning.
- Prepare your coffee maker, fill it with water. We love our Keurig coffee maker. Brewing our morning coffee is a breeze. The timer is set for the machine to start-up at 6:45 am. In the old days, my dad used to have our stove-top coffeemaker (an Italian Bialetti) ready, he only had to turn on the knob as soon as he woke up.
3. Follow an Uncompromising Routine
Sticking to a solid and uncompromising routine is key to avoid the morning rush. Here are some tips:
- Starting the night before, set up a time frame when your kids should take showers and go to bed. A restful night helps you avoid a frantic morning rush. When children are tired, they can be uncooperative and slow.
- Wake up before everyone else, shower and get dressed. Setting the alarm thirty to forty minutes before anyone else’s wake up time, allows you to have a little quiet time for yourself. Prepare your day and set your thoughts straight before the whirlwind starts.
- Make it a routine (and a goal!) to be out the door at the same time each day and work backwards. Take into account how much time it takes your children to get ready and how much time it will take you to drive them to school, if that is the case.
4. Plan and Review Your Next Day
I am a planner and I can’t help it. Writing things down helps me remember better, and checking things off my list gives me a rewarding feeling. So, planning the next day (or week) is very important for me.
When activities, errands and appointments are planned in advance, we take the guesswork out of the picture and our mornings (and days for that matter) run smoothly. These are my tips:
- Make a to-do list. When you are able to ‘see’ how tomorrow is going to look like, subconsciously, your brain starts to plan and make a schedule for you. For example, knowing that you have to drop a package off at the PO, can trigger a reminder to also stop by the dry-cleaners at the same strip mall.
- Plan your meals. Nothing takes up more time and effort than having to plan dinners. By creating a plan, not only I know if I have to make at stop at the food store that day, but I will also remember to thaw meats (or any meals) the night before.
- Place by the door (or garage door) anything that needs to go out with you the next day. Say, you need to return something to the store, drop a package at a friend’s house or bring a particular item to school the next day -‘show and tell’, anyone?- .
5. Create a ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ Station
If, like us, you live in a two-story home, you can
spend waste a lot of time walking in circles looking for things, going up and down the stairs, preparing yourself to be out the door in the morning. Here are some tips on things we do to avoid that:
- Once I shower and get dressed, I go downstairs and I rarely need to go back upstairs to search for anything. I have a makeup station in the powder room and my purse is inside the coat closet under the stairs.
- The night before, I hang the school uniform in a ‘over the door’ hook in the laundry room door. Our son gets ready downstairs. We keep his shoes and ready-to-go backpack in the coat closet. Once our he comes downstairs, he does not need to go back upstairs.
- I keep a station for his toiletries in the powder room for him to brush his teeth and do his hair.
Last week was a whirlwind. I helped my church prepare for a silent auction this weekend, my mom had another birthday, yay! and Halloween was madness! I am working on a few items for a wedding I should be shipping next week (wish me luck!), and I have a sick kiddo today at home. Ask me if I need these tips to ease my mornings! 😉
What is that special thing you do to help you avoid the morning rush? I would love to hear from you!