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5 Tips to manage the morning meltdown

Elaina is a Phoenix-based freelance writer, blogger and co-founder of the Kidlee baby book app. Check out her blog, Fun Finds For Mom, for product reviews, recipes and fun activities for moms and kids.

Simplify your morning routine

Are your mornings a chaotic rush of lunch packing, missing shoes, and not enough coffee? Do you sometimes feel like your kids aren't the only ones having a morning meltdown? With some advance preparation and the right attitude, you can smooth out the madness. Here are five tips to help you manage your morning routine.

Boy on way to school

1Evening preparation

Get as much done the night before as you possibly can. Here are some ideas for evening prep work:

  • Pack lunches
  • Get backpacks loaded and ready
  • Fill water bottles and put them in the freezer
  • Have kids choose and lay out their clothes

Pam Keith, a mother of two active boys, uses a hanging organizer from IKEA to lay out a week's worth of outfits in advance. "I can't tell you how much time that saves us in the morning," she says.

Yes, you may be exhausted at the end of the day, but once you experience the relative sereneness of a pre-prepped morning, you'll be motivated to continue the advance planning.

10 Tips for getting kids out the door >>

2Stick to a schedule

The key to avoiding a morning meltdown is to remember that the schedule starts the night before. Protecting your child's bedtime is essential. A well-rested child is going to have a much smoother morning than one who is burrowing into the quilt for "just five more minutes" of sleep.

Set a morning schedule that allows for ample time to get through the morning routine without a mad rush.  (If your kids are out of bed 30 minutes before it's time to leave the house, and it takes 40 minutes to cycle through their morning routine, you're setting yourself up for disaster.) Your morning schedule should include a set wake-up time for you and your kids, a designated time for breakfast and morning responsibilities, and the precise time everyone needs to be out the door.

How to get kids out of bed >>

3Create a personalized checklist

A detailed checklist will help each child motor through their morning. If you have pre-readers, make charts with images that show what they need to do. Items might include:

  • Make bed
  • Get dressed
  • Eat breakfast
  • Brush Teeth
  • Put on sunscreen
  • Get backpack, water bottle and lunch

4Let go of perfection

There are probably a lot of things you said you'd NEVER do as a mother. In reality, that commitment to perfection may be your downfall. Take a step back and look at your mornings. Are there some compromises you could make that might help your morning routine?

Ashleigh Kruk, a Tucson mother of two, says she has learned to give up the idea of making perfectly-balanced, healthy breakfasts and dressing her kids in the exact outfits she wants them to wear. "I give them basic choices and then let them pick. While I think instant breakfast drinks are a horror, I learned that's one battle I had to lose in order to win the war — for sure!"

5Go for quick and easy breakfasts

Don't waste time being a short-order cook. Keep things simple by giving your kids limited choices for breakfast. Here are some of our favorite make-ahead and quick-prep breakfasts:

More tips for easier mornings

Secrets of smooth school mornings
How to make life easier on school mornings
Fast morning meals for mom's busy family

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