You never realize how jam-packed your morning can be until you have kids: Get out of bed. Get dressed. Comb hair. Make breakfast. Eat breakfast. Brush teeth. Find shoes. Pack backpacks. Agh! Each step is a pontential speed bump, poised to give your day a rough start. Want a smoother get-out-the-door routine? Try these parent-approved tricks.
1. Prep the night before.
This strategy helps many of the parents we polled. Some lay out clothes for the next morning (or even the next week), others set the table for breakfast after clearing off dinner and many report the benefits of packing lunch in the evening.
When dad Chris Pegula, author of the book From Dude to Dad, noticed his friend’s kids packing their lunch at night, a light bulb went off. “I looked in amazement as they made their choices,” he said. “Within seconds they filled their lunch totes, and were onto the next task of getting ready for bed.”
Try out the packing tips below, which will not only save you time, but also help make sure your kids are eating healthy.
2. Store gear in unusual places.
You may dream of shoes neatly placed in bedrooms, or coats always hidden behind closet doors, but for the sake of speed and ease, you might be better off storing them where they don’t “belong.”
One mom we polled always keeps socks and hair brushes in her car for getting ready on-the-go.
And professional organizer Janet Bernstein makes sure her kids’ phones charge on top of their backpacks each night, so they never forget them. “Implement this rule, and you’ve also solved the ‘no devices in the bedroom’ argument,” she says.
3. Set consequences and stick to them.
A few moms reported that the threat of extra chores or no TV time works well in keeping kids on task. Consider making your morning routine part of your kids’ allowance responsibilities: Each day you don’t leave on time, dock their weekly “pay.”
4. Make it a race.
Something about calling it “a race” kicks kids to high gear — and out the door faster. Facebook fan Christina reported how her son took forever to get dressed until she challenged him to see if he could beat her at it.
5. Invest in timers, buzzers and … doorbells?
Setting a timer to ring at appropriate intervals (“15 minutes ’til the bus! 5 minutes! Time to go!”) is a popular morning strategy. And one of our Facebook fans, Cindala, took the buzzer idea to a new level:
“I bought a wireless doorbell from Walmart, and put the bell part in my kids’ room,” she says. “I set the sound to ‘gong’ and press it several times in the morning to wake them up.”
6. Admit when you’re the weakest link.
Designate a tray for keys and cell phones if you’re constantly misplacing them, invest in a programmable coffee maker, and make it a habit to fill your gas tank in the evenings to make for smoother start to the day.