As a professional organizer, it may come as a surprise to no one that routines make my heart sing. There’s something comforting about mapping out a plan to make the day run as smoothly as possible. While you can’t account for everything that life will throw your way (e.g., traffic or a long line at the store), adopting a routine is guaranteed to create some semblance of order in an otherwise chaotic world. If your family is struggling to get out the door in the morning, the good news is that you don’t have to wait for another back-to-school season to roll around to establish a morning routine. Why not start now?
Planning ahead and being consistent has saved my family a considerable amount of time and sanity each day. So what’s my secret? I’ve been following the same basic morning routine with my twin girls for years, and I’m more than happy to pass along my tried-and-true tips:
• Work backwards to create your morning timeline. We’ve figured out how much time is realistically needed to get ready in the morning and set limits accordingly for each task (5 minutes for hair, 15 minutes for breakfast, etc.). Wake-up time is based on how long everything will take, while also allowing for a few extra minutes in case we run into a delay (which happens pretty regularly).
• Make outfit choices the night before. Now that my girls are a little older, they love having the independence of picking out their clothes. But the time and drama that came with completing the perfect outfit was just too much to handle in the mornings. In addition to having their closets and drawers categorized and color coded by type, my girls have a system in place whereby they set aside their clothes and accessories ahead of time. There’s no more panic to find missing socks or tears shed over who’s wearing what. Everything they need is pre-selected and within reach to simply throw on.
• Set your fridge and pantry up in advance. My girls can handle packing their lunches on their own, but that doesn’t mean that some advanced planning isn’t required. We prep our favorite lunchtime and snack essentials (fruit, vegetables, protein, etc.) into easy grab-and-go containers and baggies. Our fridge and pantry is set up so that the girls can reach in and take an option from each category. At night, I wash and set out their lunchboxes, containers, and water bottles so that in the mornings the girls can get started without waiting for me.
• Check backpacks ahead of time. I like to do a quick sweep of my girls’ backpacks the night before to make sure there aren’t any surprises as we’re headed out the door. In addition to setting aside papers for review into our filing system, I can make sure all permission slips or other important take-home notices have been attended to. We then set our bags at the door so that we can grab them on the way out.
• Keep extra essentials in the downstairs bathroom. In our house we keep an extra set of toothbrushes and hair supplies in a bin underneath the downstairs bathroom sink. That way as we're heading to the door, we can wrap up any last minute preparations before its time to put on shoes and backpacks. This is so much easier than having them disappear upstairs and get distracted in their rooms.
There you have it! Five simple and parent-approved ways to get your morning started on the right foot. I can assure you that with a few minutes of preparation the night before, your morning routine will be smooth sailing. Who said that mornings couldn’t be enjoyable?