For families with school age children, there’s hardly a more hectic time of the day than a weekday morning. In addition to getting themselves up and ready for the day, parents are tasked with helping younger kids get dressed, serving breakfast, making lunch, and going on a scavenger hunt for the school day’s missing essentials.
If you’re in the market for a less chaotic morning, consider these 5 tips:
1. Do what you can the night before. From selecting school clothes to sorting through paperwork and making lunches, prepare as much as possible for the morning the evening before. Setting aside 20 minutes in the evening to tackle the essential tasks can decrease morning stress and chaos. If your child is a budding fashionista, every Sunday night select five outfits for the week and let her choose what to wear from that selection each day. A shelf closet organizer works great for storing preselected outfits for the week. Planning breakfasts and lunches in advance, along with doing any prep work the night before, can also help mornings go more smoothly.
2. Designate a place for everything. Put baskets by the doorway to store shoes, and hooks inside the foyer to hang coats and backpacks. Insist on a house rule that requires children to unpack their backpacks and bring their lunchboxes directly to the kitchen once they are home. For children who play instruments, have a set place for instrument storage. Take an old photo frame, remove the glass, and hot glue ribbon strips along the back. Hang hair barrettes, bows, and other accessories on it.
3. Have an in and out box. Use a mail sorter, paper sorter, or two wire baskets as an in and out box. Label each box or section clearly, and upon returning home from school place any papers that need your attention into the inbox. Once you’ve attended to them, move them to the outbox. Before bed, have your child put the paperwork into his school bag or folder. If your child needs money for his school lunch, keeping an extra few dollars in the outbox is always a good idea. Having a few dollars on hand is especially helpful on the mornings you discover you have no cash.
4. Set your stuff by the door. If you’re not ready, you’re not going to be able to help get anyone else ready. It’s worth staying up a few minutes later than everyone else or waking up a few minutes earlier to be sure all of your things are by the door and ready to go. Get your coffee cup, organize your briefcase or work bag, and select your shoes and pull out your own outfit while you have few moments to yourself. You’re less likely to be forgetful or distracted when you can focus on your needs alone.
5. Delegate! What tasks can you assign to someone else? Look for opportunities to delegate tasks to others. Can your 10-year-old let the dog out while you prepare breakfast? Can your 5-year-old help set the table? Can your spouse make the bed or clean up the dishes behind you? Consider ways you can better divide the morning tasks. Every little bit of help counts.