Surviving the morning rush: getting ready for school tips

I am guessing that many of your mornings may sound like mine:


“Mom! Where’s my homework….gym shoes…permission slip…socks….?!?!?”

Me (patiently at first, then as I have to ask my kids to do the same things, over and over again, my voice elevates in volume, speed and exasperation (my kids always accuse me of being angry when I “talk and move really fast” – kids are incredibly observant)):

“Brush your teeth, get your socks, do you have your reading book?”

“Leave your brother alone, I said no computer, put on your boots, come here so I can brush your hair.”

“No TV on school days, finish your breakfast, no, you can’t bring five webkinz to school, stop chasing your sister.”

“Get in the car! No fighting! Hurry up or else we’ll be late!” 

My low point as far as losing it with my kids in our mad dash to get out the door to school on time was one morning this fall when I had finally managed to get everyone strapped in, backpacks with all necessary items in tow, with exactly seven minutes until the school start time (I live five minutes away so I was confident we would make it), when I put the car in reverse, backed out of the garage at full speed…..and thud. Or should I say crash. We hit something. I should say I hit something.  I hit the garage door. Which I had neglected to open. I had officially hit rock bottom. Time to get my act together – our act together – in the morning.

I start each morning, as I lie in bed during those first peaceful waking moments, repeating my mantra “I will not yell this morning. I will not lose my patience. I will not say “hurry up.” Some mornings I am successful, others not so much. If you have one child or six, the weekday morning is a hectic time. I find the best strategy I have is to do as much as possible the night before. Here are some things I have implemented at our house to try and make the morning run as smoothly as possible. Trust me, I am still yelling some mornings, just not quite as often:

Night-before jobs for kids:

Pick out their clothes the night before – and no last minute switching in the morning

Get their backpacks completely packed. I taped a checklist in our back hall for my second grader so she can be sure she has everything she needs – snow pants, homework folder, reading book, school shoes, library books, etc. If it’s ballet day, make sure the leotard is clean and in the bag to avoid any turmoil the next morning as it is discovered it’s in the dirty laundry pile.

Set a wake up time for the kids and make sure they know that is the time they start getting ready – in my house it’s 7. They are always awake what seems like way before then, playing and reading in their rooms, but once it hits 7, it’s time to move.

Night before jobs for parents:

Make lunches if your kids pack a lunch. For something different, try Rachael’s Bento Lunch Boxes or Lunchbox Turkey “Sushi.

Check the calendar to see if there’s anything special you need to do to get ready for the next day. I started doing this after I neglected to check the calendar one evening and in the morning realized I had volunteered to drive for a field trip that was leaving at 8:30, so I would need to drop my son off early at preschool and leave early…….lots of hurry ups that morning.

Have breakfast on hand – ie, if you’re out of milk and you know your daughter can’t function without cheerios with milk, run to the corner store the night before rather than during the morning rush. For breakfast beyond cereal, try these yummy wafflewiches, or make a double batch of pancakes on the weekend, freeze them, and pop them in the microwave for a hot weekday breakfast.

On a personal note, a few years ago my husband gave me one of those coffee makers with a timer for Christmas. You set it up the night before with coffee and water, set the timer and push a button and voila, wake up to coffee. Life-changing. I am so happy to smell coffee as I come downstairs. It makes me ridiculously happy. Second side note – my husband doesn’t even drink coffee, yet knew how happy this would make me. Or maybe knows how grouchy I am as I wait for the coffee to brew. Maybe it was really a present for him…..

Morning rules in our house:

Kids must make their own beds. I have done away with top sheets – my kids just have a fitted sheet and down comforter on their beds so even a 3 year old can pull up the comforters and straighten pillows. 

Set a schedule for the kids. This makes it easier to avoid the last minute rush. The schedule at my house is: 7 am: wake up and get dressed and make bed; 7:25: breakfast; 7:40: brush teeth, comb hair, wash face, etc. 7:50: coats on and out the door; 8:00 am: pull out of the driveway (after I have opened the garage door, of course:-)).

No TV. My kids used to watch cartoons while they had breakfast and would zone out to the point that they wouldn’t even eat their breakfasts as they were so engrossed in their show. Since the TV has been turned off, breakfast is short and sweet and they can move onto the next step in getting out of the house.

Give yourself more time. I used to find myself racing around each morning, leaving the house in a shambles. Once I gave myself an extra 15 or 20 minutes, I found that that’s all I need to get out the door without rushing.

How do you get your family out the door in the morning? 

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