Every night once the kids are tucked in bed, all I want to do is crash on the couch and relax. But before I sit down I spend a few more minutes prepping for the upcoming day. School mornings are such a rushed , crazy and stressful time. Anything I can do to make them easier is time well spent.
My husband gets the kids ready for school in the morning since I’m usually at work. When the twins started kindergarten and we no longer had a nanny we knew we needed a better strategy for tackling busy mornings. Prepping the night before has made our lives so much easier.
School Morning Hacks
- Make and pack lunch at night
- Double check that backpacks are packed with EVERYTHING
- Choose and lay out clothes
- Prep breakfast
- Check dinner menu and prep
- Review the calendar
- List goals for the upcoming day
Make and Pack Lunch
With picky eaters it’s a challenge to pack three healthy and satisfying lunches every day. By having the kids decide what they want the night before we avoid morning arguments over how many times a week one can eat peanut butter and jelly! It feels like an assembly line – we line up those lunch boxes and tupperware, make sandwiches, grab the snacks and fill water bottles – all the night before. There is no need to even open the lunch boxes in the morning. Grab and go straight from the refrigerator.
Double Check Backpacks
Running to the school with forgotten permission slips, library books or afternoon snacks is just not possible for us. If it isn’t in the backpack – it doesn’t make it to school that day. When my kids come home from school they dump the contents of their backpacks on the counter – folders, assignment books, art projects, library books, etc. Once homework is done I have them return everything to their backpacks . But, they are kids so some things are missed. After they are asleep and the house is calm it is easy for me to do a quick scan of chairs, desks and counters for any lost items. I check that all the papers are in the right folders, permission slips and transportation changes are all in their bags. I slip afternoon snack in the outer pocket and then this chore is complete.
Choose and Lay Out Clothes
If you’ve ever watched a five year old girl decide on an outfit you know this is not a quick process. Agreeing on an outfit that my daughter deems beautiful and I deem appropriate can be an epic challenge. To resolve this problem , before she goes to bed my daughter and I choose her outfit for the next day . The boys are easy – they don’t care what they wear, so I can just pick. I lay the clothes out in piles downstairs in complete outfits including underwear and socks. Separate piles are crucial because the clothes were a little jumbled one morning and my boys wore each others shorts. My little guy had his pants falling off all day and the other looked a little risque!
Serving breakfast to three rowdy kids is not an easy task – especially for a dad with minimal culinary skills. A couple minutes of planning the night before goes a long way. If we are serving english muffins I’ll put the bag of muffins and three plates by the toaster. If oatmeal is on the menu the bowls and spoons are lined up on the counter. I chop fruit and put it in bowls in the refrigerator. I will do anything to save a few minutes in the morning.
Figuring out what’s for dinner is easy because we meal plan a month at a time. But meat still needs to be defrosted, crockpot meals prepped, veggies chopped, etc. I do as much as I can to prep the next night’s dinner. This saves us time in both the morning and the next evening. We eat a lot of crockpot meals so I simply put everything in the crockpot the night before and leave it in the refrigerator until morning when my husband can just turn it on.
Review the Calendar
My husband and I take a few minutes to look at our calendars for the next day to see who is working late, what activities or appointments the kids have, and whether we have a babysitter scheduled. At that time we divide the afternoon and evening responsibilities. I like to know who is picking the kids up or driving to baseball practice ahead of time. Being able to plan the day ahead fills me with a sense of calm.
List Goals for Tomorrow
After all the other chores are completed I sit down and plan my goals for the next day. I make a cup of tea and sit in my office for a few minutes and think about what I can accomplish with my free time the next day. I review the calendar and assess how much free time I really have. First, I list what NEEDS to be done – phone calls, emails to send, laundry, groceries. Then I add in one or two of my longer term projects like cleaning out the medicine cabinet, scanning photos, working on photo books – whatever is on my never-ending To Do list. I many not accomplish everything on the list – there are always little surprises that pop up. But, I am much more efficient with my time when I have a clear plan. This small step prevents me from wandering the house aimlessly trying to figure out what to do with a spare 15 minutes.
Wow, that seems like a lot! All these steps only take about twenty minutes and have made a tremendous difference in our morning. We have noticed less arguments in the morning and we aren’t yelling at the kids to get dressed and find their library books! I really hope some of these tips work for your family and please share any tricks you have to make school mornings smoother!!