In my house we call the mad dash to get everyone ready for school “The Marathon.” Between making sure everyone is fed and clothed, presentable, with brushed teeth and clean hair, it’s a small miracle that we make it to the carpool line before the bell rings. And while I’m not running 26 miles, I feel about as exhausted after getting the kids to school.
If you struggle to get your own kiddos out the door in the morning, I’ve come up with some easy-to-implement tips to navigate the morning routine – and make it feel like a quick sprint instead of an all-out marathon.
Create a Routine
Getting kids into a set routine is the key to saner mornings. It helps to have them perform tasks in the same order (put on clothes, eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes, get in car or catch the bus), and once your child nails that rhythm, they’ll soon be able to do it independently. If your kid struggles to focus, motivate them with fun mini goals: You could stream a music playlist and ask them to complete a task before each song finishes, or time them with a stopwatch to see how quickly they can move. Of course, make sure they don’t skimp on brushing – get them an Oral-B Stages Power electric toothbrush and a sparkly toothpaste like Crest Pro-Health for Me toothpaste to encourage them to brush for the full two minutes. The Oral-B Stages brush handle plays 16 melodies that guide your child to switch from upper to lower jaw, and it removes more plaque than a manual toothbrush, too!
Offer small rewards to keep them motivated – perhaps the first one ready and standing by the door gets a sticker or gets to choose which music to listen to in the car.
Prep for Success
The night before, check the weather forecast and lay out everything you and the kids will wear the following day. To make it easy for younger kids to get dressed on their own, choose items that are easy on and easy off.
To give you peace of mind about your kids’ clothes, use a stain-removing laundry detergent like Tide Ultra OXI to remove stains and keep their wardrobes fresh and clean. You won’t have to worry about whether that stain came out of your little one’s shirt – which is a definite plus on picture day!
Create a “Launch Pad”
Schoolbooks and backpacks strewn throughout the house? Not if you have a launch pad area! Set up a space where all school-related stuff – coat, shoes, lunch box, library books, forms, homework – can be deposited when the kids come home from school. The launch pad can be a closet near the front door or hooks in the entryway with a box underneath for loose items. Pro tip: Keep a Swiffer WetJet near your launch pad area to clean up tracked-in mud, dirt and grime from your hard floors.
Put Together Pick ‘n’ Mix Lunches
Anything that doesn’t have to be done in the morning should be done the night before. If you want to be even more organized, spend time on the weekend making packed lunches that can last several days. The most tried-and-true way to ensure that school lunches are healthy is to wash and cut up fruit and veggies and put them into small bags or plastic containers so they’re as easy to pack as bags of potato chips. For items that don’t need to be refrigerated, store them in a dedicated box, drawer or even an over-the-door shoe storage hanger so everyone can grab and go in the morning.
Use our smart tips to teach your kids to pack their lunches (and make sure they remember a Bounty napkin!).
Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Car
Keep an in-car kit with cereal bars, loose change for lunch money, hairbrushes, bottles of water, phone rechargers, a pen and a pad so you don’t automatically have to dash back in the house for forgotten items. I also keep a Tide-to-Go Instant Stain Remover Pen in the glove compartment (in case breakfast was extra messy) and a roll of Bounty paper towels in the backseat (you’d be surprised – or maybe you wouldn’t – by how often I’ve had to use them).
Whatever else you do to improve the morning routine, try to stay calm. Take it from me: Your anxiety can cause kids to move even slower. If the kids are stalling, stop what you’re doing and see if a cuddle or a quick, positive word of encouragement can get them moving again.
What’s your top tip for managing busy mornings? Whatever works for you and your family, share your ideas here!