I am not a morning person. Anyone in my family (or extended family) can attest to that. In fact, I know this sounds crazy… but getting up early is one of the things I dreaded most about having children.
I mean, I am a CHAMP at sleeping. I can sleep until late afternoon if no one wakes me up.
But alas, they do. Every. Single. Morning.
And now that the school year is in full-swing, there’s just now way around it.
The good news? I’ve learned a few tricks over the years. Tricks that help even the worst mornings run more smoothly (and that’s a feat!). And today, I’m sharing them… so we can all reclaim our mornings and our sanity.
- Keep breakfast simple: My husband has a thing for big breakfasts. Whenever he’s in charge, he goes all out. Waffles. Pancakes. You name it. That’s great for weekends, not so much for school days. We all want to send our kids to school with a full belly and lots of protein. So stick to what you know works. We stay away from cereals in our house, but we love scrambles eggs (make them in the microwave to save time) oatmeal, fruit and toast. Keeping the fridge stocked is also a must in this department.
- Wake up before your kids: This may sound like a no-brainer. But waking up before your kids (even just 10 minutes, if you have an early-riser) is so important. We Moms can be tornadoes of efficiency before the kids are awake. Take the time to get a few things done, and double check your to-do list. I often take a last minute glance to make sure I’m not missing anything on the school calendar (like Picture Day).
- Pack lunches in advance: I always pack my kids lunches the night before. And sometimes I pack in bulk. If I am making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sometimes I’ll just make ten and freeze them. (Did you know they freeze beautifully? Who knew, right?!) Make sure that everything in their lunch box is good to go, and set it in the fridge until morning. And if your kids buy their lunch? Put their money in a special place in their backpack, so they can’t “forget” it.
- Have a designated backpack station: We don’t have a mudroom in our house (jealous of those of you who do!) but I don’t let that stop me. I have a small place in our kitchen that I set backpacks, jackets, nap mats and shoes the night before. It’s right by our back door so they can grab and run. Anything extra that’s supposed to go (like show and tell items) go right there, too. You can even take this one a step further and load the car the night before.
- Pick outfits the night before: You guys, this is clutch. Especially if your kids are old enough to dress themselves. (If they don’t need help picking an outfit? High fives all around.) But if they do, be sure to lay their outfits out the night before so they can get dressed with no questions asked. And Moms, this goes for us, too! Pick your outfit the night before. I have a small section in my closet marked with a ribbon, so I don’t even have to think. Just grab.
- Empty the dishwasher the night before: This one changed my life! Do you know how much easier it is to quickly tidy up the kitchen when the dishwasher is EMPTY? We don’t have a lot of time to get those kids out the door, and the last thing we want to do is come home to smelly scrambled egg plates on the counter (bleh). If you run your dishes right after dinner the night before, and empty them right after the kids go to bed…you’re ready to go for the morning. So simple.
- Mentally adjust your clock: This one took me a long time to learn. If you think the kids should wake up at 7:30? Wake them up at 7:15. If you think you need to get out the door by 8:15? Get out the door by 8:00. I guarantee it, this will save you LOTS of heartache (and bickering) in the long run.
- Have some Mom time: We already talked about waking up before the kids. If you can, get up even earlier and take that time for yourself. Enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) in silence. Read a chapter of your favorite book. Return a few emails. We all know that Mom sets the tone of the house, so if Mom is happier when the kids get up…guess what? They’ll be happier, too. And everyone moves faster when the mood is positive. What’s that saying? You can’t pour from an empty cup? Make sure yours is full and your whole day will run more smoothly. Promise.
- Check the weather the night before: I used to be so bad at this (not gonna lie, I still am at times). If there’s a cold front coming through, I’m the last to know about it. And it’s usually not until we open the door to leave for school. If you can get into the habit of checking the weather the night before, you’ll know to set out the coats, jackets, or umbrellas. And you ALL will be dressed appropriately.
- Make it a team effort: Mom doesn’t have to be the drill sergeant. If your kids know what they are each responsible for, they’ll know what’s expected of them. Encourage kids to help each other in them mornings, and praise them when they do. Remind them that you are all on the same team, and when you get out the door on time… reward them!
- Have a little fun: Kids love games. And even the simplest change, like starting a timer, can add a little excitement to their morning. We don’t do this every morning (or else it would lose it’s appeal) but when the kids are especially sluggish, I’ll introduce a game. Encourage them to beat the timer, or tell them that the first one dressed and ready gets a treat. Mix it up and make it fun. It’ll keep them on their toes.
- Do your best to stick to bedtimes: It may not seem like it, but SO MUCH of your morning depends on the night before. This has been so true for my family. When I get them to bed on time the night before, they wake up so much easier. On mornings after long nights (like baseball games, etc.) the mornings are simply terrible. Nothing is worse than a cranky child due to lack of sleep. And Moms this goes for us, too. Make sure you get your rest so that your team has a well-rested captain.