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  • Writer's pictureOnce Upon A Mommy

How To Make Busy Mornings Go Smoothly... (After Much Trial and Error)

Updated: Mar 2

By Cris S.

January 11, 2024


After many years of busy weekday mornings (and still many more to come) I have narrowed down a list of methods that actually make a difference and help our mornings go more smoothly. (Believe me... With 5 kids, I have tried almost everything under the sun!)

These can most definitely be tailored to any age group:

  • Get outfits ready for the entire week - This is probably one of the best pieces of parenting advice you will ever receive! Grab 5 baskets or tubs from the dollar store, label them Monday - Friday and pre-pull outfits for the week, including undergarments. Or you can get some storage totes off of Amazon. Click here to see the ones that we use. Don't want to spend any money? Place the outfits into larger Ziplock storage bags, label them and place them back into the dresser. Not only will you be helping younger children to practice the days of the week, but you will be eliminating all the early morning "what do I wear??" battles! This works great for kids of all ages, even the teenagers. (You know... The teen daughter who changes four times a morning looking for the perfect outfit. Or the teenage boy who tries to wear the same shirt three times a week because it's "not dirty"). Even if you allow your younger kids to pick out their own outfits for the week, you should set aside a time Sunday afternoon and have them sort through and put together what they will be wearing. That way if you have a kid who takes forever trying to decide on what to wear, they will be spending that time on Sunday, as opposed to Monday morning. (And they still get that control over what they are wearing) You can also up your parenting game and use this as an opportunity to teach your children to start doing their own laundry! Even if you are weirdo like me and enjoy doing laundry, it is still a good idea to make sure your kids learn how to do it. The younger kids can start by trying to sort darks from lights, and towels from clothes.

  • Morning Checklist - Most of my kids really enjoy having a morning checklist. It gives the younger ones a sense of independence and makes them feel more like a "big kid". And of course, it keeps them on task. Get a small dry erase board and write out or print out morning tasks that need to be completed.

  1. Get dressed

  2. Eat breakfast

  3. Brush teeth

  4. Brush hair

  5. Wash face

  6. Put on shoes

  7. Put lunch in backpack

Next to each task, put a "not done" and a "done" box. (Or simply a "yes" or "no" column). The child can use magnets or check marks to mark off when they have completed an item.

If this idea is too simplified, you can add time slots to each task so that your older child knows about when each task should be completed.


Get Dressed: 7:00-7:10

Eat breakfast: 7:10-7:25

Brush teeth: 7:25-7:30

Brush hair: 7:30-7:35

Wash face: 7:35-7:40

Put on shoes: 7:40-7:45

Put lunch in backpack: 7:45-7:50

Cath bus: 8:00am

The idea here is that you are making them form a morning routine. If you help them to keep up on it, eventually it WILL become routine and their mornings will go much more smoothly, as will yours!

Another easy way to do this is to print out the list on a piece of paper and use stickers to mark off each item. Bulletin boards or chalkboards will also work. Most kids feel a major sense of accomplishment when they complete this list. Even if they only complete a few of the tasks on their own and you have to help them to redo some of them, they are still learning about making a routine and keeping a schedule. They will get it!

  • Pack lunches and backpacks the night before - This is an old rule, but it's tried and true and helps to prevent many hiccups on a busy weekday morning. Another thing to think about is what else they might need for school the next day. Do they need tennis shoes for PE? An item for show-and-tell? Is it their day to bring snack? How about any signed forms or papers needing to be returned? Do all of this the evening before! Occasionally I miss doing this every so often, and I regret it the next morning when we are all running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Also, put all shoes ready to go by the front door! I don't know how one of my son's shoes always seems to miraculously disappear the night before, but it's much better to do the "search and find" then and not 10 minutes before it's time to head off to school.

  • Speaking of lunches, another great piece of advice is to take some time on Sunday to prepare lunchbox items and make them "grab ready". I have a bin in the fridge where I put pre-cut veggies, fruit, cheese sticks, salami, etc. There are also a couple bins in the pantry for dry items. On Sundays, we get out the big bag of pretzels, popcorn, chips, and veggie straws and prepackage them into snack size Ziplock bags (or reusable tupperware). I make this into a "group project" with all of my kids, because after all, it is for them. This makes it so that kids can pack their own lunches the night before. It's also easy enough that they can pack it in the morning pretty quickly. Just make sure you do a quick "lunch check" so your kid doesn't try to take off with an all sweets lunch!

Have a lazy kid who you just can't get into the "be prepared" spirit?

Try offering a small incentive at the end of each week to motivate him/her. (Yes, I'm speaking from experience!) I did this with my lazy child when she was a bit younger: If she was able to complete her checklist every morning for a whole week (without me having to hound her) she would get to go get ice cream or a shake Friday evenings.

These ideas are especially helpful in a home with multiple kids. It may take some time for everyone to get into a more structured routine, but once you do you may never go back to NOT having it again!

Please like and share! Feel free to subscribe for a once weekly parenting tip! Happy Parenting!

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