Here’s a little inside information on me: I am not a morning person. Not an ounce of my body likes being awake before 9am. I’ve been this way my entire life, so having a new kindergartener who has to be at school at 7:45am is a special form of torture for me. I actually have to function, feed other humans, and operate a car. It’s a lot. I am also very much a Type A personality, so I put my planning skills and love of lists to use and created some time tested tips for a smooth and stress free morning routine. I’ve used these tips for my daughter’s last year of preschool and we’ve kept it going because it works so well for us. I can’t stand feeling stressed and already behind before I’ve even gotten in my car in the morning. It sets me up for a bad day and my kids don’t start their day off right either.
Here are 5 things I do every morning to help us get out of the door without any stress:
Prep everything you can the night before.
Seriously, every single thing. I know we are all tired at the end of the day and we are operating on fumes, but save a teensy tiny bit for some school prep and it will work wonders for your mornings. Every single night while I’m working on dinner, I pack lunches and snacks. I have my kids help by filling water bottles, putting napkins/utensils in lunchboxes, and picking items out of our snack bin and sandwich bin. I lay out everyone’s clothes including any bows my daughter wants to wear. We take baths the night before so there’s one less thing to do in the mornings. I also take a moment and think about what we’ll have for breakfast. Mostly it’s a waffle or a granola bar, but I need to think about it because there have been many times where I’ve realized we don’t have breakfast items and had to scramble for something to eat. I lay out bowls for cereal, granola bars, or plates for waffles along with the toaster. Their backpacks are packed with any homework, signed papers, etc. and waiting by the door with their shoes.
2. Establish a morning routine.
Since coming up with a morning routine, my kids no longer ask what to do next or what needs to be done — they just do it! It’s very freeing. Our morning routine starts with getting dressed and styling hair. We make beds and put away dirty clothes. We eat breakfast and put away dirty dishes, then wash our faces and brush our teeth. We get our lunch together, look at our family calendar and class calendar, and grab backpacks. At this point we are fully ready, fed, and out the door! It takes about a month to establish and learn a new routine, but once you have it down, it cuts down on so many questions and wasted time.
3. Use a command center with a family calendar.
We started this routine last year and it’s worth its weight in gold. (Fellow contributor Jasmine Martin has a Mom Hack post about the command center she uses — and it’s pretty awesome — on her IG ‘Raising the Martins’). We can clearly see what special class my daughter has the next day and can plan clothing accordingly, like gym shoes for PE day and pack library books for library class. We can see if anyone has an appointment after school or a family birthday, etc. This helps give my kids a sense of control because they know what to expect from the following day. I can also grab any paperwork that needs to be signed or returned to school and place it in their backpack the night before. I also keep their backpacks on hooks under the command center so everything is in one spot.
4. This might seem unrelated, but setting a consistent bedtime can make mornings run so much more smoothly.
When my kids are well rested they have better attitudes, and they aren’t complaining, whining, or dragging their feet in the mornings. In our house, school bedtime is 7:30pm. By this time we’ve done our nighttime routine, taken baths, packed bags, and picked up our chore areas. We read a book and then it’s lights out. My daughter gets to read or play quietly in her bed to wind down from the day alone, but at 8pm it’s mandatory lights out and toys put up.
5. Morning encouragements help set my kids up for a positive attitude.
Fellow contributor, Angelica Cruz has often talked about and shown video clips of the nightly affirmations she does with her daughter, and it is so inspiring! While I’m driving my kids to school, I like to fill them with positive affirmations they repeat back so that they take ownership of their feelings and feel confident in themselves. I change it up depending on what kinds of behavior I’m seeing and what they’ve told me about their day, but it always has something along the lines of, “I’m kind to others, I am smart and strong, I am a good friend to others, etc.” I think it helps them develop positive feelings towards themselves and that’s always a good thing.