I am not a morning person. Life at home with my toddlers used to be filled with mornings cuddling in PJs. Arriving at preschool on time was a challenge; I was often late. When my son started kindergarten, I was determined to get my act together and break the cycle.
I gleaned ideas from the web, talked to other moms and put a system in place.
I use these tips to get up and out the door in 45 minutes each morning.
Use Sunday Wisely
Think ahead and prepare for the week on Sunday; it helps save time in the long run.
- Bag snacks, fruits and veggies for the week to save time on busy sports practice and running-around days. Doing this in advance also gives you a head’s up if stocking up on lunchbox staples is necessary, thereby avoiding last-minute shopping trips.
- Use an organizing system to put together school outfits for the week. I bought a hanging system for my son’s closet with a compartment for each day. Every Sunday, we check the weather for the upcoming week and put outfits in each compartment. Sometimes my son wants to choose his clothes; sometimes he lets me choose. There is never an argument, question, or decision to make about what to wear in the morning.
- Put an organizing system by the door for shoes and backpacks. Professional organizers often recommend an area with hooks for backpacks and a rack below for shoes. Having homework and permission slips ready in the backpack the night before is crucial.
The Night Before
- Make lunches the night before. This includes filling water bottles.
- Set the table for breakfast after doing the dinner dishes. You’re already in the kitchen; getting it all done at once makes sense.
In the Morning
- Keep breakfast simple. Cereal with toast, yogurt or fruit keeps us on the go. Try to sit down and have breakfast as soon as the kids get up. This avoids the grab-and-go breakfast that research shows can lead to obesity. It also helps avoid last-minute spills on school clothes that could cause a meltdown for kids or parents.
Try this savvy breakfast trick: Always bake a double batch of muffins and freeze the extras. That way, the kids can just take one out and warm it in the microwave.
If you have a picky eater who wants a hot breakfast, try toaster waffles, make-ahead egg muffins or bagels.
- Have your child use an alarm clock. We bought a Yoda alarm clock and gave it to our son as a present as he entered kindergarten. He was excited by the unexpected gift and in turn, was excited to use it. I was amazed when he skipped into the dining room each morning at 6:15 a.m., ready to start his day.
- Most parents agree with this rule: No electronics before school. They are way too distracting.
- With older children, get creative! A fun way to get tweens out of bed and moving is to turn on music in their rooms. Make it nice and loud and then sing and dance (if necessary), substituting words with phrases about waking up and getting moving. Groans may soon turn into laughter and they start preparing for the school day.
There is no magic and no two families are alike. Figure out what works for your family, then put a system in place. Planning ahead will help start the day in a more positive, less frazzled way.
Cherie Gough is a contributing writer.