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10 Tips for Keeping Mornings Manageable

By Michelle LaRowe

Sure, mornings can be a little crazy, but they don't have to drive you nuts. With a little planning and preparation you can take control of your morning routine and bring calm to one of the most chaotic times of the day.

1. Get Up Before Everyone Else

If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able take care of anyone else. The truth is, if you don't meet your own needs you won't be effective at helping those that you care for. Are you nonfunctioning without a cup of Joe? Do you feel unprepared for the day if you miss your morning devotional? Whatever your core needs are each morning, allow yourself time to meet them. If that requires you to set your alarm 30 minutes before anyone else wakes up so you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a hot shower in peace, do it. You'll thank yourself later. Your kids and coworkers will, too.

2. Give Everyone Enough Time to Get Ready

There's no better way to add stress to the day than to start off the morning running late. If you have to get your little one off to daycare and yourself to work, allow yourself enough time to get everyone ready. If there's an older child into the mix, be sure they have adequate time to wake up, get dressed and eat breakfast before having to head out the door. While it can be tempting to wait until the last minute possible to get everyone up, doing so will just create chaos.

3. Establish a Morning Routine

Children and many adults function better with structure and a clear understanding of expectations. Take a few minutes to think about how an ideal morning in your home would flow. Would you get up, eat breakfast and then get everyone dressed and ready for the day? Or would you prefer to get everyone ready before sitting down to eat? Map out your ideal morning routine and commit to it. Create a morning checklist and post it on the fridge to help you and family members stay on track.

4. Pad 15 Minutes into Your Morning

Take the possibility of running late off the table by padding your morning with 15 extra minutes. Whether your nanny is running a few minutes late or the line at your favorite coffee shop is out the door, those extra minutes can be a real sanity and schedule saver.

5. Do What You Can the Night Before

Make lunches, lay out clothes, iron, mix infant formula and prepare in bottles, pack the diaper bag, prep for breakfast, set the coffee timer. Whatever you can do the night before, do it. The less you have to do in the morning, the less chaotic your morning will be.

6. Have a Set Place for Your Work Stuff

Whether it's your company name badge or your laptop and briefcase, starting a search party to locate what you need for work as you are heading out the door will bring mayhem to your morning. Make a habit of putting your work necessities in the same place each night so you aren't left looking for them in the morning.

7. Have a Set Place for Kids Stuff

If you think a scavenger hunt for your items is bad, it's nothing compared to the nightmare of trying to locate a lost teddy or a missing shoe. Make it a habit of cleaning out the kids' bags each day; restocking them each night and leaving them somewhere near the door. If you have a bench or set of hooks in your entry way, this can be prime real estate for the kid's stuff. Put a basket by the front door to serve as an easy place to toss shoes.

8. H2 Maintain a Spare Stash

No mom has time to turn around and go home to fetch missing goods. Keep a fully-loaded diaper bag in the car, or at least the supplies needed to stock one. A change of clothes for you and the kids, extra diapers and wipes, a tub of baby formula, bottled water and snacks will come in handy should you forget something essential when heading out the door.

9. Plan Your Breakfast Menu in Advance

Don't waste time figuring out what to feed your family for breakfast. Each week, post a breakfast menu on the fridge so you're not tempted to improvise. If you're really looking to save time in the morning, prepare goodies like breakfast burritos and pancakes over the weekend, stick them in the freezer and voila, breakfast is served in a cinch.

10. Keep a Family Calendar in the Kitchen

It's hard to keep track of your own schedule, never mind the schedule of everyone in the family. Buy a large magnetic dry erase board and stick it on the fridge. Designate a different color dry erase marker for each family member and add in where everyone has to be when. Having a family calendar handy will help to ensure everyone gets where they need to go.

About the Author

Michelle LaRowe is a mom, award-winning nanny and the author of several parenting books including Working Mom's 411 and Nanny to the Rescue! Michelle serves as the editor-in-chief of Longhorn Leads, parent company of where she shares parenting advice and empowers both parents and nannies to be the best caregivers they can be.