The process of how to get out the door with kids in the morning (while keeping your cool) can seem freaking impossible at times.
I think my kids have a gene where the later we are running, they slower they move. Am I the only one with kids like this?
So, therefore, if I want us to get out the door without me yelling my head off at everyone, I need to be on.my.game in the morning time.
But those oft-repeated pieces of advice that tell you to, “lay your clothes out the night before! Make lunches with leftovers!”? They’re helpful, but they only go so far.
By making a few tweaks and thinking ahead, however, I’ve figured out a few favorite ‘hacks’ that keep our mornings running smooth. And honestly? Mornings right now are one place where we’ve kinda got it going on.
I can have the rest of my day fall apart (and, frequently, it does) but my morning routine is so set that I really depend on to get our day off to the right start.
Now, I’m going to hold my hand up here and say I’m not the most perfect, non-yelling mom. I yell. I swear. Sometimes I give my kids Cheez-its and applesauce for dinner and then hide in the bathroom eating Halo Top ice cream and scrolling Instagram just so I can get a frigging break.
However, these morning routine ideas of mine have given us some stability and ease in the on school mornings. I wanted to share them with you and hopefully, they’ll help you out!
1: Wake Up Before Your Kids.
(I know, I know. But hear me out!)
I believe, wholeheartedly and unequivocally, in waking up BEFORE your kids.
I do understand that sometimes, this just isn’t possible. When you’re postpartum and need the sleep, for example. Or if you work the night shift. Or you have a sick kid and you’ve been up half the night, or you have a job that requires a specific amount of sleep, like a pilot or a paramedic.
But if you are a parent with a typical schedule, with kids who mostly sleep through the night, and you have evenings free to go to bed at a reasonable hour, then you need to try waking up before your kids.
It’s not the easiest thing to get started, I can definitely agree. But, like every routine or rhythm, you reap the benefits of waking up early once it’s an inherent part of YOU.
Common advice about starting routines is that it takes 21 days to get a routine going. However, newer advice says that it really takes something like 66 days.
Quite frankly, to me, 66 days makes sense. 21 days feels like it’s enough to get over a hump, but I’ve always felt like I needed at least 2 months to really get a habit going. Three weeks is just never enough, and it makes it a lot easier to “fall off the wagon”, so to speak.
It is not easy to wake up early when you’re not used to it. And it took me a WHILE to really make it a habit. But, if you can do it guys, I’m telling you: it’s freaking lifechanging.
I’m going to share with you a few tricks I use to get my sleepy butt out of bed.
Because, contrary to popular belief, I LOVE my bed. I LOVE sleep. I just am MORE in love with the feeling I have when I’m awake and it’s quiet and my coffee is hot and the whole day stretches ahead of me, ready to be made into whatever I want.
- Sleep aids
Think: melatonin, lavender essential oil, sleep masks, meditation apps.
- Embrace odd events
Take advantage of odd events that happen outside of the normal routine that might cause you to wake up earlier. Things like, early flights, jetlag, babies waking up randomly early, etc. Then, just make sure you keep doing it. All it takes is one change!
- Have an accountability partner
This is one that has definitely gotten me out of bed on time! If I have someone waiting for me to “check-in” with them, whether that’s via text, a video call, voice call, or other, it helps! I hate letting people down, and knowing you’ve got someone waiting on you (who is expecting you to hold them accountable, too) can up the ante and get me out of bed.
- Crazy ‘mission’ alarm clocks
There are some insane alarm apps that will make you complete ‘missions’ before they can be turned off, which means you need to use your brain and thus wake up faster. This tip is one for those of us who hit the snooze button thirty times in a row! #snoozebuttongang
Then, this is important: Once you’re up, have something that KEEPS you up.
Don’t just wake up to watch TV and scroll Instagram. Start a meditation or yoga practice, journal, have a podcast or audiobook you catch up on while going for a walk or a run, etc.
Why this works:
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? As a parent, this is never truer. And the singlehanded most effective way I’ve found to “fill my cup” is to do it BEFORE my family starts siphoning energy out of me. It’s truly one of the best things you can do for self-care. It makes the whole routine of trying to get out the door with kids that much easier to handle- no matter what gets thrown my way in the process.
2: Give Your Kids ‘Morning Baskets’.
Guys, my husband says I have a basket problem because I use them everywhere in our home. But really, I think of it as a basket SOLUTION.
So here’s the thing. We all know baskets are suuuuper handy for toys and random crap and helping keep your kitchen counters not looking like the town dump.
But my favorite way to use them is as a Morning Basket.
Here’s how it works:
Each of my kids has a small wooden crate that I bought at Michaels, which I added nameplate stickers too. These crates are stored in the living room, which is where we collectively get ready in the morning. If you get ready in their room or the kitchen, or wherever, just use the baskets there.
After dinner, while I’m cleaning up, I tell the kids to pick out an outfit for the next day and put it in their morning box. EVERYTHING that belongs on their bodies before they walk out the door is added to the morning box the night before. I’m talking shoes, socks, undies, hairbrushes, barrettes, nametags, etc.
The next morning, after they’ve eaten breakfast, we sit down on the living room floor and pull out their Morning Boxes. They can help me get them dressed by pulling what they need out of the box, and I can sit my tired ass on the floor and help them get ready. (I mean. I have been up since 4am!)
Why this works: The sense of autonomy and help in decision making that this gives my kids is everything.
The night before is when we have time to deliberate on outfits. Deliberation doesn’t happen the next morning when we’re on a time crunch. For example, when it’s the night before, I’ve got more time to argue with my 5 year old that she can’t wear a bikini to school. That, I’m not arguing with her while simultaneously trying to get out the door with kids and backpacks and my head on straight.
(Have you ever noticed that, other than going at a snail’s pace, the majority of morning time arguments happen over the kids being adamant about wearing something insane, causing you to say insane things back to them like, “no, the Trolls wig stays home”. I’m not saying that the Morning Box eliminates those arguments from happening, but it does cut down on them significantly.!)
3: Embrace the Same.
How it works:
That’s it! No eggs. No bagels. No new things. No grabbing something on the way to school. They get to choose one thing from those four options, and that’s it.
Why this works:
The four options are all things they can ostensibly help with. My daughter can spread peanut butter on a waffle, and my son can stir yogurt into a bowl. It’s one more step in morning autonomy and helpful decision making that keeps things running smoothly in the morning.
4: Keep the Diaper Bag Mentality
Remember when your kids were really little and you had an awesomely stocked diaper bag filled with things for every type of emergency?
Once the kids get bigger, it’s freeing to walk out the house without the albatross of a massive diaper bag weighing you down.
But I’ve found that keeping a “school run bag” is just as helpful, especially when I apply the “sameness” ethos I do with their simple breakfast choices.
How it works:
I have a small fanny pack that I keep stocked with hand sanitizer, some baby wipes, an extra set of headphones for the walk home after dropoff, and there’s also room for my keys and phone and some cash.
Why it works:
It works for the same reason that we make a Morning Box: because the less decisions, the less things to remember, less of a to-do list- that’s the secret to a smooth morning. And that’s as important for me to remember as it is to teach my kids.
So what do you think!? Think these tips will help you get out the door with kids faster in the mornings? Do you regularly hit any ‘snags’ you can’t figure out? Hit me up in the comments below or in my Instagram DMs and tell me about it!