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Find Your Way to a Successful Morning Routine

Morning time, with a bed full of rambunctious kids
Photo © Kristin Rogers/Stocksy United

By Anna Sachse

As a working mom, weekday mornings used to be my least favorite time of day—and no wonder. My husband had to hit the office early, so it was also my job to get my 2- and 4-year-olds (and myself), up, dressed, fed, and out the door with everything we needed for preschool, work, the gym, and also run errands like stopping by the dry cleaner or grocery store.

The kids found unique ways to procrastinate (e.g., “Mooooommmmmyyyy, my hair hurts, so I can’t wear these pants!”) and I became an impatient nag-osaur. We were almost always late.

It was time for a rethink. We needed a little more strategy to our family morning routine and a lot more sunshine in our a.m. routine. Sound familiar? Check out my multitasking-mommy-in-the-morning advice below—and let me know if you have any tips I missed!

My fixes aren’t foolproof (and we’re still late sometimes) but we’re all a little happier, and that’s a win in my book.

1. Make Your Morning Routine Better by Going to Bed Earlier

I’m not talking about the kids: I’m talking about you, parents. Sure, the post-kid-bedtime hours are prime for ticking items off your household to-do list, catching up on personal phone calls, or binge-watching This is Us. But adequate sleep (7 to 8 hours a day for adults) will boost your mood and give you the energy and focus you need to tackle the day.

Even if you’re already getting enough sleep, going to bed earlier means you can wake up a little earlier and make the morning that much less hectic. Try this:

  • Give yourself a set bedtime and stick to it.
  • Settle down. Some folks swear by a cup of tea and a good book, while I love an evening run followed by a warm shower.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals within a couple hours of your planned snooze fest.
  • Keep the bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.

It goes without saying that kids also need plenty of rest: around 9 to 12 hours, depending on their age.

2. Family Routines Are Better When You Get Things Done the Night Before

I know I just said you should go to bed earlier, but taking even a few things off your morning to-do list is equally beneficial:

  • Get out the dishes your children will use for breakfast, as well as any nonperishable components of their meal. Stock up on quick, easy breakfast options—I’m sort of obsessed with overnight oats right now. Or try this tasty morning twist on pizza.
  • There’s nothing more soul-crushing than having to clean your coffee device in the a.m. before you’ve had any coffee, so make sure there’s nothing more you’ll need to do than start the grinder and turn on the kettle or push a button.
  • If you’re susceptible to frantic last-minute, can’t-find-it stress, then pack your work/gym bags and kids’ backpacks and put them on the counter with things like car keys, water bottles, your travel coffee mug, and reusable bags if you have shopping to do. Have shoes and sunscreen at the ready.
  • Make your lunch and put the bag in the fridge. (Want multiple meals from one cooking session? Try our three meals from one pot of quinoa.)

3. Have a Clothes Call

  • My two girls love selecting their own outfits in the morning—and then changing their minds again and again until 10 precious minutes have passed and I’ve gone insane. Now I circumvent costume-changes by having them decide what they will wear the night before, and laying the clothes out where they can see them. They feel like they are in control—and I don’t have to help them put on 16 different skirts.
  • You should also decide what you will wear, right down to the dainties and accessories. Helpful hint: Shower the night prior or before your children wake up, and then quickly finish getting ready while the kiddos eat and listen to music or stories from MeeGenius or Storynory.

4. Make the Morning Routine a Routine

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (and parental common sense), children do best when their schedule is consistent. At my house, it looks like this: Wake up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, brush hair, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes, get school stuff, and get in the car. To help your kids understand their daily routine (and concepts of time!), try these tools:

5. Wake up with a Cuddle

Start the day with a cheerful, positive outlook by spending the first few minutes in the morning snuggling and chatting in bed. Those warm fuzzies go a long way toward getting your kids on your side for the upcoming rush—and making you care a little less even if you’re still late.

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