Instead of stressing about the mad morning rush, focus on how you can get things to run more smoothly by becoming more organized in the first place.
Tackle the week’s lunch plans ahead of time. Most every kid enjoys pizza Fridays in the school cafeteria. Unless you’re dealing with food allergies, you can plan for your children to buy lunch at the end of each week. Then, Monday can be another bought-lunch day, with kids eating school lunches while you’re out at the grocery store, stocking up for brown-bagged lunches on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Check the weather. Nothing like dressing your kids in long pants in time to realize that rain is about to start pummeling everything just as they’re heading out the door… or seeing them emerge from their rooms dressed in shorts on an unexpectedly chilly September morning. Take a minute to look at the weekly forecast. Then, since weather tends to be unpredictable, check again the night before.
Organize the porch, hall closet, laundry room, mud room, or whatever space you have, with the appropriate seasonal outerwear. This way, kids can find jackets, don hats and gloves, stuff feet into boots, grab umbrellas, and be out the door ready to face whatever the elements may bring. Same goes for the adults. Nothing like not being able to locate your own shoes when you’ve been hollering at the kids to “hurry up and let’s go” for the last ten minutes!
Keep up with laundry. Procrastinating the washing of clothes leaves everyone feeling disorganized and chaotic in the morning. Laundry is one of those background tasks. If you’re going to be home, you can easily throw in a load no matter what else you may be doing. Enlist older kids for laundry duty as well. It helps to categorize clothing, not only by color but by wearer. This way, the folder of the laundry can fill up baskets quickly without trying to figure out whose socks belong to whom.
If you must take shortcuts, make them productive ones. Since we’re discussing laundry….suppose you just cleaned and dried some but now you don’t have time to fold it. A time-saving shortcut would be to at least carry the basket of clean clothing up to the person’s room whose laundry it is. This way, in the morning if they’re missing a favorite pair of jeans, you can direct them to the basket of clothes.
Lay out kids’ clothing the night before. If you’re not sure what the weather will do, include two options such as shorts and pants. Lots of little ones prefer to dress themselves. This is fine, as long as your child is able to select a top and bottom that somewhat resembles what you would choose for them in terms of seasonal appropriateness and casual versus formal. For example, if today’s occasion calls for a polo, then your child should understand that he or she can choose a different one — but that a tee shirt may not be dressed-up enough.
Make and pack lunches at night. Sometimes the last thing you want to do is start filling lunch boxes at 8 p.m. But if you make lunch prep part of dinner clean-up, you can organize everything so that you’re not awake at midnight worrying if you have enough cold cuts for everyone in the house to have lunch tomorrow.
Take shifts for the bathroom. If you’re short on bathrooms, the best way around this is to stagger wake-up times. For a smaller sized family, adults can awaken, use the toilet and shower first. Kids follow suit while Mom or Dad is downstairs making breakfast. So set the alarms accordingly. Bigger families should allow for the kids with the earliest schedules to use the bathroom first. Also, things like hair drying and make-up application for teen girls don’t need to happen in the bathroom, especially when others are waiting their turn.
Schedule after-school activities, and stick to the plan. Even if your kids are smaller and they don’t do extracurriculars yet… afternoons should be planned for a bit of relaxation, a bit of play, homework hours, and time to review what’s come home in the school folder. Missing this last step often results in a disorganized frenzy in the morning, with notes that need reading, permission slips and forms to sign, and general confusion.
Everyone knows that today’s busy family has their share of challenges to keep up with, which is especially felt in the morning when it sets the tone for your entire day. But if you make that extra effort to be organized, you’ll find there are less tears and more smiles, which makes a great start to everyone’s day.