School mornings. Most parents find themselves barking out orders like a drill sergeant to hustle their kids out the door in time to beat the morning tardy bell. This makes for a hectic, unhappy, and, at the very least, frustrating beginning to a busy day. Here are 8 practical ways to make that morning rush a little less stressful.
Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and wake up 15 minutes earlier
This is the simplest, most effective way to ease some of that morning stress and compensate for that snooze button habit.
Prepare clothes in advance
If it’s too hard to lay out school clothes the night before every night, try laying out a week’s worth of clothing on laundry day (you’re folding and stacking the clothing anyway, right?) Use a hanging shoe organizer or a storage container with drawers to organize each day’s worth of clothes. Otherwise, keep a separate drawer for uniforms or school-appropriate, parent-approved clothes. This way kids aren’t sifting through their entire wardrobe to find something to wear you can both agree on.
Create a morning checklist for each child
For smaller kids, include details such as “go potty”, “brush teeth”, and “put on shoes”. Give older ones more responsibility and list “make breakfast” or “pack lunch”. Add specific items they tend to forget such as “get parent signature” or “pack homework”.
Use a timer
If you have multiple kids in a shared bathroom, this can be very helpful. Set a timer for an allotted time for grooming. The timer can be used for any task such as dressing or eating breakfast.
How many of us check our phones the minute we open our eyes in the morning? Your intended two-minute email check quickly turns into a ten-minute social media session in the comfort of your warm bed. Same happens with the kids. Keep all phones and tablets charging overnight in the living room, kitchen, or office to avoid wasting this time. Absolutely NO television before school.
Organize that ‘dumping ground’
You know the spot I’m talking about. Maybe it’s a mudroom, a foyer, or the dining room table. Designate a spot for kids to store backpacks, jackets, and school shoes. Simple hooks and a large bin will suffice. The easier it is to access the more likely it will get used.
If you have the time and stamina to wash, slice, dice, and pack food items in color-coded baggies the night before, have at it. If you’re like me, buy foods that are already conveniently pre-packaged and dump them in bins. Apple sauce, fruit cups, yogurt, pre-washed veggies, granola bars, and so forth can be healthy and extremely easy to sack and go. Buy fruit that doesn’t need prepping like oranges, apples, and bananas. Keep those sandwiches and wraps simple; don’t most kids prefer that anyway? If all of this doesn’t fit into your schedule, how about letting your kids buy school lunches a few times a week?
Keep breakfast basic
Save your fancy brunch recipes for the weekend. I know you want to provide amazing and nutritious breakfasts every morning for the kids, but, to be honest, there’s not enough time, and the kids aren’t that hungry so early in the morning anyway. Stock up on easy breakfast items such as cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, granola, berries, frozen breakfast items like waffles, pancakes, and sausage. These types of foods are so easy to serve up that lots of kids can do it themselves.
In this day and age, adults and children both find themselves overworked, overtired, and over-scheduled. We are here to tell you it’s okay to cut yourself some slack and make little allowances that help you get through your day. After all, it’s not the beautifully prepped bento box lunch or the finely groomed fishtail braid or even the magnetic whiteboard calendar that makes you a good parent. Hopefully, one or two of these time-saving hacks will ease some of the morning chaos and help you start each day with a smile.
Christy Ortiz is a Fort Worth native, and proud to say so. She earned her bachelor’s degree from UT Arlington in Interdisciplinary Studies. She taught for FWISD for eight busy years before switching gears and staying home with her two small children. Her hobbies are interior decorating for friends, photography, and flying kites with her kids. Her South American roots and love for the Spanish language and Latin cultures add to the diverse voices of our group.