Ah, the morning routine. Racing around the house holding a mug of cold coffee, getting into a screaming match with your teenager about leaving for school on time just this once, finding socks and packing lunches and signing a last-minute permission slip…there’s no denying that mornings can be hectic. The tone of your morning can dictate the way the rest of your day goes, so it’s important that everyone in your family wakes up on the right side of the bed. Whether you are a veteran of the school morning routine or a beginner, there are ways you can help make your morning less stressful and more satisfying. The following are some tips we here at Tutor Doctor have found help our mornings become a little less hectic, but we are always looking for new ideas!
Pack Lunches (or Lunch Money) the Night Before
Many was the morning my mother chased me around the kitchen wielding a peanut-butter knife and pleading with me to get my brother out of bed. Making our lunches in the morning and being able to get out the door on time meant that my mom had to be up almost half an hour earlier than anyone else in the house. Maybe that works for your biological clock, but for those who like to get a few extra minutes of morning sleep, why not try making lunch the night before? By packing the night before, you miss out on the chaos of the morning and get to leisurely assemble whatever is on the menu. Packing at night also means you can make more deliberate choices about what to pack. Rather than tossing a whole apple in your kid’s lunchbox when you know she won’t eat it that way, you can take the extra time to cut it into sections and make sure she will. Some items, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, don’t do well refrigerated overnight, but you can use the time at night to get everything done you can and lay out the things you’ll need for last-minute preparations in the morning. If your child doesn’t pack lunch, take a few seconds at night to slip the money into your child’s backpack. For kids who buy, see if the school offers a way you can pay in advance, which will make your job even easier.
Lay Out Clothes the Night Before
The night before is a magical time for the morning routine. While no one in my family ever really managed to master this tip, the few times I used it proved to be very successful. Something happens to my brain in the morning where I can stand in front of my closet for hours, unable to find an outfit for the life of me, whereas the night before I can lay out five outfits like magic. Check the weather report and announce it to the entire house so everyone can pick out an outfit that will suit the predicted forecast. This will also let you pull out umbrellas, raincoats, and any other weather-specific items in advance, rather than rooting around in the closet for twenty-five minutes the next morning. This isn’t a foolproof solution, as anyone who has ever depended on a weather forecast will readily tell you, but on most mornings it should be helpful.
Set a Bathroom Schedule
Growing up in a one-bathroom house with three people meant that sometimes, you had a tough time getting sink access, and there were a few times I ended up brushing my teeth over the kitchen sink. If bathrooms become a stressful issue in the morning, try setting up a bathroom schedule. Maybe all showers will happen the night before, or your son will do his hair before breakfast instead of after. Find something that works for your family, and hopefully some morning meltdowns can be prevented.
For younger kids, having a visual reminder of the steps they need to take in the morning can be helpful. Post it near their bed, on the fridge, or wherever it will be most effective. This will keep you from having the follow them around the house all morning, reminding them of what to do, and will make them more independent.
Keep Everything In Its Place
“Dad, where’s my backpack? Lindsay, have you seen my gym clothes?” Keeping everything in its place means that there will be less morning rushing around looking for things. Put backpacks, already packed, by the door. Put your keys and other odds and ends you need for your morning on a table near the door or hung off of a coat hook. Part of keeping everything in its place is knowing what you’ll need for the next day, so if your child has a art or swimming one day you’ll need to make sure the necessary extras are packed as well. One way to remember this is to post a list of what each child needs somewhere near the door. If Mondays are soccer practice for AJ and band for Jasmine, you can make sure that they both have the necessary materials packed and ready to go. Get your kids involved in this routine, and do a check the night before. Hopefully, as the routine becomes more ingrained, they’ll need less help from you and will take more initiative themselves.
Weekends are for Relaxing
Monday morning routines may be the most difficult of your week, as you’re coming off a (hopefully) more relaxed weekend schedule. Make sure you’re in a good place for Monday mornings by getting dirty gym clothes washed before Sunday night, permission slips signed when you get home from work on Fridays, and any other miscellaneous tasks done before Sunday night. Leave Sunday night as a time to unwind and relax rather than run around frantically. Believe me, you’ll feel a lot better come Monday.
Practice Makes, Well, Almost Perfect
The reason routines work well is because you do them so often they become a habit. By repeating the same routine every morning and night before, you’ll eventually feel very comfortable with the routine you’ve set up. This isn’t to say the occasional morning crisis won’t arise, but if the routine works you should find these problems decreasing as the school year goes on. Any routine is difficult to start, but the great thing about a new school year is that it gives you an opportunity to start fresh.
What are some of the tips you have for a stress-free morning?