Well . . . the time is almost here: backpacks, books, and binders; pencils, pens, and paper. Yep, it’s back to school time. It’s time for shopping, cleaning, and most importantly, scaled back bedtimes and morning routines. I know what you’re thinking: Ugh, NO, Why?, FINALLY!. Establishing routines is essential for the busy family. A successful routine establishes structure, saves time and tears, and cuts down on anxiety and worry as we move from day to day. For some of us, establishing these routines is easy; but for some of us, this is not the case at all. Let’s face it, in a matter of days, we will all be back to 6:00 a.m. (or earlier) wake up calls to get ourselves and the tiny humans out the door to seize the day. With that said, here are my top five tips to make busy mornings run smoother.
1. Allow time for preparation.
There is not enough time in the morning for making breakfast, making lunches, prepping dinner, signing papers, planning the week, and whatever else comes your way if you hope to get out of the house on time . . . no way! So, the night before or the morning of, allow some prep time. Think about all of the things that have to be done in the morning, and then think about how you can prep for them the night before. I live by my planner and writing things down, and so for about an hour on Sundays, I open my planner, look at the week ahead, and fill in the calendar so that I know what’s coming up. Take the time to plan ahead. If you know that the tiny humans need lunch or snacks for the week at school, prep as much as you can the night before by having them pack the snacks for the week, or pre-making the snacks yourself. Preparation is key.
2. Designate times and set alarms for each phase of the morning.
If you know how long it takes to get through each part of your morning (getting up, making the bed, getting dressed, eating, etc.), then you can set an alarm that helps you stay on track. This is also great for kids, because it allows them to gain an understanding of time and why it is so important. Time waits for no one and by setting alarms, you will be able to keep up with it! Designating phases and setting alarms will also allow you to focus on one task at a time, instead of running around like a crazy person doing 17 things at once. This is also a great thing to do for children, as they love to race against the clock. You can make them a visual schedule or checklist to use and mark each time an alarm goes off. It encourages responsibility, independence, and it saves us from being micro-managers before heading out for the day.
3. Use music in the morning.
Why not wake up to music? It sends positive vibes, encourages movement, and is better than silence. The right song can turn a cranky kindergartner into a smiling, super kid ready to take on the day. Make a playlist or create a station, and turn it on when it’s time to wake up!
4. Take care of yourself before the day begins.
Self-care is necessary and it shouldn’t be rushed, hurried, or skipped. As mothers, wives, women, and professionals, we tackle a lot in a day; YOU HAVE TO ALLOW TIME FOR YOURSELF. Wake up 30 to 45 minutes before your morning officially begins and tend to yourself and ensure your mental stability. Meditation and prayer are great for the morning. Have a cup of tea or coffee, scroll through social media, look at the day and what lies ahead. More importantly, just breathe! Take some time when everyone is still sleeping and the house is still to take in yourself and have some you time.
5. Keep everything in its place.
There is absolutely no time in the morning for looking for lost keys, socks, pencils, permission slips, or whatever. With that said, why not create a grab-and-go spot for all things school and work and then make sure everything is in its place? Create a space for backpacks, chargers, keys, and notes that is close to the door so you can pack them at night, and the next morning, you can simply grab and go. The space doesn’t have to be big, it just needs to be designated for grab and go. Extracurricular activity items can also be placed in this spot. You can also designate spaces for things like lunches and snacks where items can be grabbed and placed in lunchboxes. My favorite designated spot is for school clothes. I’m that mom who gathers school clothes for the week on Sunday, but I am also the mom of a very independent and fashion savvy 6 ½ year old who wants to pick what she wears (Brysen, my son, just wears Dry Fit — easy peasy). So what do I do? I put all school clothes for the week in the laundry room in a spot where they can pick the OOTD (outfit of the day) and get dressed. It cuts down on wardrobe meltdowns and allows me to have time to tackle other morning duties.
Extra tip: Clorox wipes, Febreze, and swiffers save cleaning time during the week! Take 15-20 minutes every evening using these quick-clean items to freshen the house, and it will make mornings better too!
Now that you have some nifty tips by yours truly, let’s get ready to tackle the new school year! Happy mornings!