Have A
Chaos-Free Morning

Imagine a school morning like this: You're running around, trying to find your child's other shoe/homework/toothbrush/fill-in-the-blank while the smell of burning toast fills the air and the baby won't stop crying. School mornings don't have to be this chaotic. Here are a few secrets of smooth school mornings.

Mom handing daughter lunchbox

1Pack the night before.

A smooth school morning actually begins the previous night. Before your children go to bed, make sure they've completed their homework. See if they need you to sign any papers, and ask if there are any upcoming events of which you need to be aware (e.g., making 30 cupcakes for... tomorrow). Help your children pack up their backpacks and put them by the door so they are ready to go in the a.m.

2Lay it all out.

Remember how painstaking the decision of what to wear to school was? Your children are just starting to experience this joy/horror. Instead of wasting precious morning minutes rushing your child out of her closet, have her select her entire next day's outfits -- socks, undies, everything -- and lay it out so it's ready to go for the morning. (This is a great tip for Mom and Dad, too.)

3Simplify breakfast.

Keep a stash of healthy, on-the-go breakfasts on hand in case you need to grab and go. Plan for easy and healthy breakfasts such as whole-wheat toast and cereals, fruit smoothies and instant oatmeal.

4Bag it up.

If your children brown bag it to school, make as much of the lunch as you can the previous night. Prewash and cut fruit and veggies, and put them into snack-size bags so you can simply pop them into their lunches.

5Stay connected.

Avoid the confusion of who's dropping off/picking up the kids, etc. by keeping one master family calendar that includes work schedules and kids' activities. If your family carpools with neighbors, note who is driving each day. As you enjoy breakfast -- no matter how quickly -- take time to talk with your kids about the day ahead. This will help prepare them for what is to come, and it will reassure them that you are listening and you know what's going on in their lives.

6Say "I love you."

Despite a particularly hectic morning, don't forget to send your children off to school with more than their backpacks and lunchbags. Give them some encouragement and some extra love. Even if they are at the age when everything you do embarrasses them, they can call upon your love and support when they need it most. P.S.: Don't yell "I love you!" from the car window as your child joins his friends at school.

Have the hubby lend a hand. Divvy up before-school chores so you each have time to help the kids get ready for school -- and to get yourselves ready to head out the door, as well.

More back-to-school tips

5 Tips for beating back-to-school blues
How to make homework fun for kids
Can moms make a difference in schools?

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