school mornings:
10 Tips for Taming the Madness

Taming the madness of school mornings starts by getting organized the night before.

School starts any day now. Is your family prepared? No more sleeping late. No more casual breakfasts.

The chaos is about to begin!

Transitions are often difficult, and the dramatic schedule change between the lazy days of summer to early-rising school mornings ranks up there at the top.

Here are ten tips for warding off the madness of school mornings to help ensure everyone gets out the door on time.

  1   Ease into  School Mornings by Sending Kids to Bed Early

Ease into the school schedule by sending the kids to bed early for at least a week before school starts. 

  2   Plan Showers for the Night Before

Have the kids shower the night before. Assign everyone 15 minutes morning time in the bathroom to avoid gridlock.

  3   Make Mornings Easier with No-Choice Breakfasts

Make mornings easier by having no-choice breakfasts. If it's Monday, we're having cereal. If it's Tuesday, we're having yogurt. There's no time for short order cooks on school days.

  4   Plan School Outfits in Advance

Plan outfits in advance - especially if your kids don't wear school uniforms. On Sunday, get the kids to lay out their clothes for the week.

Make sure there are no rips or tears and that everything (including gym clothes and soccer jerseys) is clean.

For my little one, I package each day's outfit (underwear and all) in a big resealable plastic bag. He needs to pull out the bag and get dressed.

  5   Sundays are Key to Your Week

Sundays are key to your week. Dole out lunch money, etc. on Sunday nights. Work out carpools Sunday night. To plan more efficiently, make a family calendar listing everyone's activities in one spot. No one can commit to anything before they check the calendar and clear it with the chauffeur (mom).

  6   Make To-Go Lists for Each Family Member

Make to-go lists for every member of the family for every day of the week.

Post them on the bulletin board or fridge for quick reference each morning. Brian has gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays and band practice on Tuesdays.

So his basic "to-go" list for Tuesday would always be topped with gym clothes and trumpet.

Help the kids update the lists each Sunday night. That way you don't get distress calls about forgotten piano books.

  7   Do As Much as Humanly Possible the Night Before

Do as much as humanly possible the night before: Get the children to assemble everything they need the night before: backpacks, lunches, stuff for after-school activities (swimsuits, cleats, etc.). If there's a lot of stuff, you can even load the car the night before.

  8   Create An In-Out Box for Papers, Permission Slips

Create an in/out box for papers, permission slips. Lunch money could go here, too.

  9   Always Keep Your Keys on a Hook by the Door

Always keep your keys on a hook by the door. Too many buses have been missed because of frantic last-minute key searches.

  10   Consider Investing in a Second Set of Schoolbooks

Consider investing in a second set of schoolbooks. I know this sounds expensive - but it really helps. My friend's daughter wound up at the doctor's office with back strain from her heavy backpack - and she was only in the fourth grade.

Just buy extra copies of texts at the beginning of the year and keep one set at home and one at school.

No more heavy backpacks. No more forgotten books! And no more excuses for not doing homework.

› 10 Tips for Eliminating School Morning Madness