Everyone knows the struggle to get out the door on time in the morning - we want to sleep a little bit longer, we don't like the outfits we try on, and we take too long getting our stuff ready. But only parents know the true struggle of getting out the door on time with children. It can be a rather painful task that pushes you to the utmost limits of your patience. There is an inherent struggle between wanting to spend some quality snuggle time with our babes as they first wake up and the internal clock ticking away to the beat of "you're going to be late, you're going to be late".
There are days where we feel as though we've run a marathon before even getting to work and starting our own day. So, how do we make it easier? How do we manage to start the day off on a positive note, send our kids off to school happily, and arrive at our jobs without feeling completely drained? Here are 10 things we can do to make our mornings less stressful, happier for everyone, and still get us out the door on time.
10 Prepare as much as you can the night before
Yes, it's true, sometimes we need to "borrow time" from somewhere else in order to make the mornings run more smoothly. Completing a few tasks in the evening, while difficult at the end of a long day, can reap huge benefits in the morning.
Prepare everyone's lunches the night before, that way you only need to grab them from the fridge and pop them into lunch bags in the morning. Lay out everyone's outfits the night before, including your own, so there are no wardrobe battles in the morning either. If your children are at the age where they're wanting to pick out their own clothes, have them do that the night before. Pack the school bags (get your children to help), sign permission forms, and put everything by the door, so it's all ready to go.
9 Organize everyone's closets to make it easier to find things
In order to build independence in small children, it is important to give them opportunities to do things themselves and be successful at it. Picking out their own clothes is a huge step toward independence, and this is something we want to work towards. However, this is not always easy to do when we are rushing around in the morning.
Having your child's closets organized in a way that makes it easier for them to find all of their items that they need, allows them to be more independent. Early Years Teacher and founder of the popular Facebook group Starting School With Roots & Wings, Kim Marshall, explains that by having an organized closet, "they know exactly what to do when you ask them to get dressed and feel like such a big kid doing it! The fewer decisions that need to be made the better. Minimize choices and increase freedom."
8 Have a visual schedule for younger kids
A visual schedule is a wonderful tool to use with younger children, to help build their independence and to prevent the continual, "Did you brush your teeth? Did you get dressed yet?" in the mornings. They can see what tasks need to be done, and they can complete them on their own, feeling proud of their accomplishments.
For older children who are able to read, you could have a simple checklist on their bedroom door, or anywhere else that is easily accessible, for them to refer to each morning when they are getting ready. Helping everyone to know what they are responsible for doing each day will help your morning to run more smoothly, and it will help you get out the door on time.
7 Set your alarm 5-10 minutes earlier
We know that's a painful thought, giving up precious sleep time. But, getting up that little bit earlier will make a big difference in your morning. Start your day 5-10 minutes earlier, and wake your children 5-10 minutes earlier as well. It allows you that little bit of extra time so that you don't have to rush quite as much.
If you are finding that you are already feeling sleep-deprived, then aim to go to bed a few minutes earlier as well. Definitely easier said than done, with the enormous to-do list always looming, but sleep has to take priority. If you're setting your alarm a bit earlier to make your morning less stressful, try to get everyone (including you!) into bed a little bit earlier as well.
6 Bathe/shower the night before - at least the kids, anyway!
Some people prefer to bathe/shower the night before, while others prefer to do that in the morning to help themselves wake up for the day. Even if your preference is to shower in the morning, try to have the kids washed and bathed the night before. It not only helps the kids to settle down in the evenings and get ready for bed, but it's one less thing to do in the mornings.
If you are still finding that your mornings are rushed, try to alternate between showering at night and showering in the morning. It will give you that little bit of extra time on those mornings when you don't need to grab a shower, perhaps even giving you time for a second cup of coffee!
5 Set a timer to go off 5 minutes before you actually need to leave
If you have little kids that don't know how to tell time yet, a visual timer is a great tool to use, as they can see the minutes slowly disappearing. Have the timer set and ready to go off 5 minutes before you actually need to leave. This give you a cushion of 5 minutes for any last-minute emergencies or set-backs.
If your children are older, you can still use a timer to let them know when it's time to leave. Tell them that you're setting the timer for 10 minutes, and that when it goes off, everyone needs to be ready to head out the door. Still set it for 5 minutes before you actually need to leave, to give you that little bit of wiggle room.
4 Have kids start getting coats/shoes on 8-10 minutes before you need to leave
There are two types of kids - ones that move quickly and ones that don't. I have one of each. My son is always ready to go, and he completes his morning routine often before I'm even out of the shower. Then, there is my daughter, who we affectionately nickname Sloth, due to her complete unwillingness to be rushed. The house could be on fire, and she would take her time leaving, and will only leave when she is good and ready - hair on fire or not!
It is for children like her that implementing this strategy works wonders. Have your children start to get their coats and shoes on 8-10 minutes before you actually need to leave the house. So, they should be starting to get their stuff on before that visual timer has even beeped. If they're miraculously quick that morning, then bonus, you have some extra minutes to catch your breath. If they are really slow that morning, and can't find their shoes, socks, hat, toy, etc., then you have some extra minutes so you're not panicking.
3 No screens in the morning!
This can sometimes be tricky, because parents will use screens in the morning as a way of buying themselves some time to get ready for the day. This makes perfect sense, but it can sometimes cause more problems than it's worth in the end.
Screens can often prevent children from getting their jobs done in the morning. They forget to brush their teeth or eat their breakfast because they're wanting to see the last bit of their show or finish playing their game. Try to limit screen time in the morning if possible. Have your kids look at some books if they're all ready to go and are waiting for you.
2 If possible, take breakfast to go
If you have a bit of a commute to do before dropping your children off, try bringing breakfast-to-go in the car. It takes one step out of the morning routine, and since they're sitting in the car anyway, they might as well eat their breakfast then too.
A little protein box, similar to those you can purchase at coffee shops, is a great breakfast for them. A bit of fruit, a hard-boiled egg, and a blender muffin or piece of toast. Pack these the night before, when you're making the lunches, and have them ready to go in the fridge for the morning.
1 Get up earlier and get yourself ready first
Again, this might sound like a painful solution to getting out the door on time, giving up more of your sleep time. But, if you crave a peaceful morning like most do, you'll be glad that you did it. Set your alarm even earlier, and get yourself ready before waking your children. Grab a quiet cup of coffee, do your morning yoga workout, or just have a peaceful shower and get yourself dressed without anyone needing you.
While this steals from your precious sleep, it rewards you with a peaceful morning, a moment of "you time", and a clear head to start the day. Soldier on, Mama, you've got this!