Sometimes mornings at our house more closely resembled herding cats than a calm, collected start to the day. Between making sure everyone is awake, fed, and dressed, to making lunches, showering, and trying to get a little coffee in a to-go cup, it was a mad dash out the door.
Determined to transform the chaos and make mornings go smoothly, I made a few changes at our house to reinstate a little sanity.
Prep the Night Before
A successful morning always begins the night before. Before going to bed, everyone makes sure that they have their outfits set out for the next day and their bags packed and ready to go. I even created an area in our entryway for the kids to hang their backpacks, so that after homework is done and paper are signed, they put them back on the hook. I installed small hooks for our car keys and a spot for my husband’s work things as well. It makes getting out the door without forgetting something so much easier.
Prepping lunches the night before also helps reduce the morning stress. My kids are not a fan of sandwiches, so I typically finish lunches in the morning. But I prep anything that I can the night before, including finding the elusive lid to the container their lunches get packed in each day. Each night, one child is assigned the task of helping prep the lunches for the next day, so I get some help in the kitchen and some one-on-one bonding time. It’s a win-win.
Before we leave the kitchen, I do one more thing – prep the coffee for the next morning. If you have a programmable coffee pot, you can set it for a few minutes before your alarm goes off and by the time you get to the kitchen your coffee is waiting. It’s a simple thing that makes getting up early so much more tolerable.
Get Up Before the Kids
On the rare occasions that I don’t get up ahead of the kids, the morning is not pretty. My rush turns into their stress… and that creates havoc for everyone. I make it a priority to get up 30 minutes ahead of my kids so that I can shower, have some smart coffee, and take a few minutes to wake up. It also gives me time to finish those lunches before I start herding kids around the house to get them ready for school. I’ve found that when I’m more prepared for the day, it’s easier to help everyone else get ready too.
I also love having a minute to actually chat with my husband and share a cup of coffee with him before our workdays begin. And before the kids suspect we might be having a conversation without them.
Make Breakfasts Easy
One of the best changes in our schedule is the reliance on easy breakfasts. Easy doesn’t mean unhealthy, so I prep healthy oatmeal breakfast cookies, breakfast burritos, and sausage egg breakfast muffins a couple of times a week, so that breakfasts are less of a chore. You might be able to prep just once on the weekend for the entire week if you have young children, but if you have teenagers it probably won’t be enough. Lesson learned on that one! Even if you have to make more during the week, breakfasts are still a lot easier than they used to be.
Give Yourself Grace
I won’t lie, sometimes morning are still challenging, but that’s what happens when you have a family. Unpredictable becomes the most predictable part of the day. But working ahead has saved us countless minutes searching for things, arguing over what to wear, and, of course, waiting for that first cherished sip of coffee. When we have a morning that goes awry, I try to give myself a little grace. When everyone is where the are supposed to be, I enjoy 5-10 minutes of quiet before moving on with my day. Take a few deep breaths. And be mindful to not carry the stress of the morning around with me through the day.