I don’t know about you, but I depend on routines and schedules. From when I grocery shop to when I get my work done, it is all scheduled out an out as best as it can so that when life’s inevitable hiccups throw a wrench in my plan I know how to get back on track. This also gives us time for more enjoyable things. I’m not one to “wing it” when it comes to getting tasks and priorities handled (some people disagree with this but our family thrives this way), and getting my kids up and out the door before school is no exception.
In our household I have implemented morning routines to create order, independence, and also to keep us on time and get us out the door without forgetting the essentials. Over the summer months our schedules look a lot different than they doing during the school year, but since we are a few weeks out from the first day of school this is the time we start getting back into the habit of the routine. Now that my twins are entering fourth grade in a couple of weeks they are still using the same morning routine that we set in place years ago, only now they are able to handle a lot of the routine on their own without my assistance (which I love!).
If you’re interested in adopting some tried-and-true tips that have worked in a busy household with young children, I’ve included the morning routine tips that have worked for our family over the years below. For younger and older kids, the same morning routine tips apply but your involvement will be determined on their age and how much responsibility/independence you’d like for them to have.
TIPS FOR A BETTER BACK TO SCHOOL MORNING ROUTINE
Keep clothing sorted in color order. When choosing what to wear each day it’s helpful to keep an organized closet, especially on the days when kids are requesting a specific shirt or perfectly-coordinated outfit. My girls like to choose their own outfits, so keeping their drawers and closets sorted in color order (and by type) makes it easy to find the exact article of clothing that they want to wear that day.
Make outfit choices the night before. There is so little time in the morning to be spent choosing what will be worn that day, so we find it to be helpful to select outfit (and accessory) choices the night. My girls know that if they make their selections in advance that means that they can have a few more minutes of sleep each morning. All options are sorted within arms’ reach and in open bins, low hangers, and drawers to make it easy to see and grab.
Work backwards to create your morning timeline. We give a time limit for each task (hair=5 mins, breakfast=15 mins, etc.) to figure out how much time is needed to get everything done and determine the wake-up time based on how long everything will take so that we have enough time to get it done and out the door on time. We always build in an extra 5 minutes to account for something to take longer than normal (let’s be honest, we depend on this extra time most days!).
Set our fridge and pantry up in advance. I’ve learned that my girls enjoy their lunches more when they are the ones actually making the decisions on what goes inside. Our fridge and pantry is set up so that the girls can reach in and grab an option from each category (fruit, vegetables, protein, etc.), so all they have to do is grab and fill. Each night I wash and set out their lunchboxes, containers, and water bottles so that in the mornings the girls can get started without waiting for me to pull out their essentials.
(PS- want to see how my girls make their lunch each morning? Here is a video that they made on their lunch routine.)
Keep extra essentials in the downstairs bathroom. In our house we keep toothbrushes and hair supplies in a bin underneath the downstairs bathroom sink. That way as we’re heading to the door to grab backpacks and put their shoes on they can stop in the bathroom for final preparations instead of taking longer than necessary to run upstairs.
I’m curious: What does your morning routine look like? Are there any back-to-school tips you’d like to share? Please leave your comments below!
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Rachel and Company is a professional organizing firm based in Bethesda, MD, serving clients in the Washington, DC area including: Potomac, Maryland Georgetown, the Palisades, McLean, Arlington, and Alexandria, Virginia.