To make mornings less stressful, prepare the night before. Make sure clothes or uniforms are washed, school backpacks are packed with signed forms and completed homework, and lunches are made and ready to go. Have a talk with kids and let them know that getting ready is a priority. "Make a firm rule to keep TVs and computers turned off until everyone is dressed and ready to go," says family savings expert and author Kim Danger.
Many moms find their mornings are less stressful if they wake up before the kids, so they can drink coffee and get dressed in peace. Now, on to the kids...
If you have turned on the light, opened the curtains and threatened to withhold allowance money to no avail, it may be time to go to plan B for waking up your kids. Mom Tommy Gidlen serenades her kids out of bed in the morning. "I sang a morning song to start the day. The little kids loved it and the teenagers hated it, so it worked both as an incentive to get up and a deterrent to staying in bed."
Parenting expert and author Susan Tordella says that kids from kindergarten on can be taught to manage themselves in the morning, starting with an alarm clock. "Give them an alarm clock and teach them how to use it. Ask, "What time do you think you should get up to get ready?" Work with them, and allow trial and error.
Professional organizer Lea Schneider says to create a breakfast menu of easy breakfast options for kids. "After grocery shopping, create a breakfast menu that shows the options available, from Cheerios to a bagel with cheese. Kids love to eat out and order off a menu so this is very familiar to them. Again, a wipe-off board works great, and older children will enjoy making the menu for you."
Mom of six Julie Cole finds the opposite approach works best for her. "I know this sounds harsh, but if you start asking everyone what they want for breakfast, you'll soon turn into a short-order cook. Serve up one breakfast item to all. Keep it simple: Go with cereal and fruit if you can get away with it."
We don't suggest that you sleep in your business suit, but having kids get dressed the night before may be a great timesaver. Mom Marguerite Swope says she dresses her young child in his school clothes to wear to bed. "He wears sweat pants and t-shirts [to school], which are great for sleeping in. After bath, we put those on and he pops out of bed already dressed. We can be out the door in 15 minutes after he gets up."
Another easy option is a clothes organizer in your child's closet. "Have the child select a week's worth of outfits, including undies and socks, and place them in the organizer," says Schneider. "For tweens-teens, use this same process, but use a hanging section of the closet to organize a week's worth of school clothing. After they have selected the outfits, you can check to make sure they are appropriate. This ends a daily argument over what to wear."
If your child is dawdling as she gets dressed, set a timer. "Pick your battles. Limit choices. Set a timer so you're not nagging. If we start to lag, everyone gets a treat if they can make it to the door on time. My kids will do anything for a single chocolate chip," says community organizer and author Jacqueline Edelberg.
Part of feeling calm in the morning is knowing that everyone has everything he needs -- and knowing you won't be getting a call from your teen asking you to drop something off at school. Schneider suggests you create a launch pad in your home.
"This is the place you put everything you need to launch out the door in the morning," she says. "This applies to both parent and child. It could be coat hooks in the hallway, cubbies by the door or Shaker pegs in the laundry room. If you live in a small apartment or home, use your breakfast chairs. Hang the backpacks and jackets on the chair and place anything else under the chair. When you leave, make sure the chairs are pushed in and everything has been removed."
What's your best tip for getting your family out the door in the morning? Comment below!
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