I’m currently enjoying a family vacation and soaking up the last weeks of summer. Follow along on Instagram (lots of pics in my IG Stories). In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy some posts from The Joyful Home archives.
This post was originally published almost three years ago. My kids are now 8, 9, and 11, and we still use these tips for easier mornings. As we head into back-to-school season, I hope this post gives you ideas and encouragement for making your family’s school mornings even better.
School mornings are hard for me, and if they’re hard for you, too, then I know you’ll love these 5 tips for easier mornings. Even if you’re naturally a morning person (I am not), getting out the door with kids every morning can be a challenge.
As a mom, I know that how I’m feeling at any given moment has a huge effect on how my kids both feel and behave. If we start the day off on the wrong foot at home, my kids will carry that negativity with them to school and throughout the day. I’ll carry an extra load of mom-guilt.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed by the craziness of the morning and letting that ruin the day, I choose to plan ahead to make life easier for everyone. You can, too! Here’s how:
1. Plan outfits for the week.
I used to do this for myself when I was working as an attorney, but this year, I started doing it with my kids. Talk about a breakthrough moment!
Our morning battles, especially with my daughters, used to be epic. Even if we set out clothes the night before, they would inevitably change their minds in the morning and refuse to wear what we had planned. No longer do we waste precious time with such nonsense.
On Sundays, I work with each child to choose their clothes for Monday-Friday, and we lay them out in a shallow plastic bin. I picked this one up at Target and made the labels in Word. Check on my tutorial for exactly how to do this. You could just as easily write them yourself (or have your kids do it) on strips of paper or washi tape and stick them to the bin.
This really motivates me to get the laundry finished before Sunday evening. As difficult as that can be sometimes, the sanity it saves me during the week is absolutely worth it.
The bins slide perfectly under the kids’ beds, so they’re easy to access without taking up floor space. In the event someone decides that they don’t like the planned outfit, I will allow them to switch days (like wear their Friday outfit on Tuesday), but they cannot pick something that is not already in the bin. What a time saver!
2. Prepare meals the night before.
I know how tired you are in the evenings. After dinner, baths, homework, reading, and cleaning up, you probably have no energy or desire to prep breakfasts and lunches for the next day. I often feel the same way, and truth be told, I don’t always get this one done. But, when I do, it’s such a bonus.
As far as lunches, it is so helpful to prepare them and get them into the fridge at night. While you’re at it, fill up the water bottles, pull out the lunch bags, and make sure everything is ready to go. You’ll thank me for this when you don’t have to prepare both breakfast and lunches in the morning–at the same time. Talk about chaos.
SHOP LUNCH GEAR
If your kids like a hot breakfast, get started on that to the extent that you can. My kids prefer cereal and yogurt or fruit for breakfast. I’ll cut up their fruit at night and check the fridge to make sure we’re not out of milk. Really, anything you do at night will be one less thing you’ll have to do the next morning.
3. Get their gear ready.
Back packs, diaper bags, nap mats, lunch boxes: spend a little time at night getting these stocked. Place them in the same place every day–a place your kids can easily reach. We use our hall closet as a drop zone for backpacks, coats, and shoes. It isn’t pretty, but it works, and the kids know where their stuff is and can gather it themselves.
Make sure the bags are stocked with all permission slips, homework, library books, a change of clothes, etc. I don’t have time to search for all of that in the morning, and I’ll bet you don’t either.
4. Make a list of morning “jobs.”
5. Let them sleep enough, but not too much.
What do I mean by this? Well, first, this may be a no brainer, but if your kids aren’t getting enough sleep at night, they’re going to have a harder time in the morning.
Make sure they’re going to bed at a decent time, but don’t let them sleep too late on school mornings. My kids would love to sleep past 7:00 a.m., but I know that would make us too rushed. Instead, I get them up an hour before we need to leave.
They don’t really need that full hour, but it gives us something that’s crucial to our morning success–a cushion. The cushion allows for the unexpected moments that often happen with children, such as a misplaced shoe, a spilled bowl of cereal, or a sibling spat.
Some mornings, we use up that cushion and find ourselves scooting out the door just in the nick of time. Other mornings, we’re actually finished early, and the kids have a little free time before school. It’s amazing how a 10-minute stretch of reading or Lego play can really make their morning.
And, there you have it–5 tips for easier mornings. Don’t overwhelm yourself and think you have to implement all five of these tips immediately. It may work better for you to start slowly and just take them one at a time.
I don’t always get all of them done, and in that case, I just have to give myself a little grace, and an extra cup of coffee.