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Do you dread mornings because they’re so chaotic? If your mornings are anything like mine used to be, then you have angry people tripping over each other in the kitchen. Or, maybe they fight for the bathroom. I used to struggle to get coffee made, kids dressed and fed, and grown-ups showered and packed up in time for work. We struggled finding backpacks, missing buses, and a generally annoyed and disheveled household.
What if I told you that things could be much better? You don’t have to be a super parent to keep things organized and stress-free in the morning. I’ll teach you to have focus on how you can get things to run more smoothly by becoming more organized in the first place instead of stressing about the mad morning rush.
Plan Lunches Ahead
Tackle the week’s lunch plans ahead of time. Plan the components of each lunch so they can easily be interchanged. You might even want to buy special containers that have several slots that will allow you to place different items in them to make a whole lunch. If your children don’t like sandwiches, don’t worry. Yogurt, fruit cups (bonus points if you make it yourself and place it in containers), even crackers and cheese can easily be portioned out into easy to grab baggies or containers that will allow both you and your child to make a lunch in seconds.
Keep Your Eye on the Weather
Check the weather on Sunday night to make sure everything is clean and ready to go. Then, check again the night before. The weather tends to be unpredictable, and you may need to make changes fast. Nothing is worse than dressing your kids in long pants in time to realize that there’s been a sudden temperature spike and they’ll be sweating before they even get to school… or seeing them emerge from their rooms dressed in shorts on an unexpectedly chilly September morning. Staying on top of the weather – and laundry – will keep you prepared.
Organize by Season
Organize the porch, hall closet, laundry room, mud room, or whatever space you have, with the appropriate seasonal outerwear. This way, kids can find jackets, don hats and gloves, stuff feet into boots, grab umbrellas, and be out the door ready to face whatever the elements may bring. The same goes for adults. There’s nothing like not being able to find your own shoes when you’ve been hollering at the kids to “hurry up and let’s go” for the last ten minutes!
Don’t Get Behind on Laundry
It may be difficult, but keeping up with the laundry is essential to preventing disorder in your home. Procrastinating just leaves everyone feeling disorganized and a bit helter-skelter in the morning. Washing clothes is one of those background tasks. If you’re going to be home, you can quickly throw in a load no matter what else you may be doing. Enlist older kids for laundry duty as well. It helps to categorize clothing, not only by color but by the wearer. This way, the folder of the laundry can fill up baskets quickly without trying to figure out whose socks belong to whom.
Use Calculated Shortcuts When You’re Short on Time
If you must take shortcuts, make them productive ones. Since we’re discussing laundry… suppose you just cleaned and dried some, but now you don’t have time to fold it. A time-saving shortcut would be to at least carry the basket of clean clothing up to the person’s room whose laundry it is. This way, in the morning, if they’re missing a favorite pair of jeans, you can direct them to the basket of clothes.
Do It the Night Before
Waiting until the last minute on clothes starts the day off slow. Lay out kids’ clothing the night before. If you’re not sure what the weather will do, include two options such as shorts and pants.
Lots of little ones prefer to dress themselves. This is fine, as long as your child is able to select a top and bottom that somewhat resembles what you would choose for them in terms of seasonal appropriateness and casual versus formal. For example, if today’s occasion calls for a polo, then your child should understand that he or she can choose a different one — but that a tee shirt may not be dressed-up enough.
Make and pack lunches at night. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is start filling lunch boxes at 8 p.m. But if you make lunch prep part of dinner clean-up, you can organize everything so that you’re not awake at midnight worrying if you have enough cold cuts for everyone in the house to have lunch tomorrow.
Bathroom Time – Stagger or Shifts
The older your kids get, the more they’ll fight about bathroom time. One solution is to take shifts in the bathroom. If you’re short on bathrooms, the best way around this is to stagger wake-up times. For a smaller sized family, adults can awaken, use the toilet and shower first. Kids follow suit while Mom or Dad is downstairs making breakfast. So set the alarms accordingly. Bigger families should allow for the kids with the earliest schedules to use the bathroom first. Also, things like hair drying and make-up application for teen girls needn’t happen in the bathroom, especially when others are waiting their turn.
After School Time – Stick to a Schedule
After school time can be as tumultuous as before school. Schedule after-school activities, and stick to the plan. Even if your kids are smaller and they don’t participate in extra-curricular activities yet… afternoons should be planned for a bit of relaxation, a bit of play, homework hours, and time to review what’s come home in the school folder. Missing this last step often results in a chaotic frenzy in the morning, with notes that need reading, permission slips and forms to sign, and general confusion.
Everyone knows that today’s busy family has their share of challenges to keep up with, especially in the morning. But if you make that extra effort to be organized, you’ll find that there are fewer tears and more smiles, which makes a great start to everyone’s day.