Back-to-School: Get Out the Door with Your Sanity

There’s a common narrative about mornings, especially when they involve getting kids ready for school. Crazy! Stressful! Rushed! What if you could reframe this narrative? What if you could head out the door with your kids without feeling totally frustrated and exhausted? It’s possible. Use these strategies to simplify your morning routine, minimize the mayhem, and get out the door faster this school year.


What to do the night before.

You’ve heard this before. The more you prepare the night before, the less you have to worry about in the morning. It’s science ;)

Set the coffee machine. If you’re a “don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” person, this is a key step. Place your to-go cup next to the machine so you don’t also need to squeeze in a detour to Starbucks.

Pre-pack lunches. If you’re already in the kitchen waiting for the pasta water to boil, you can knock out sandwiches for the whole week. Put the sandwiches on a low refrigerator shelf with some cheese, yogurt, pre-cut fruit, etc. and voila, lunch packing station. This not only increases independence but reinforces that getting ready for school is a family and not “parent only” task.

Have a portable breakfast option. If for some reason breakfast can’t be eaten at home that morning, you have a backup ready to go.

Select outfits. If your kids are old enough to dress themselves, let them select their outfit. The fashion battles just aren’t worth it. This goes for activity and sport uniforms as well. Does this uniform need to go to school or do we need to put it in the activity/sports bag?

Prep launch pad. Mudroom. Hall closet. Wall with hooks. Only coats, backpacks, and shoes should get stored here. Pack your bag and the kids’ the night before and put them near the door. We call this “reset” at our house and my son loves to put his things right next to his dad’s.

What to do in the morning.

Take five. Whether you drink your first cup of coffee while it’s hot or meditate or write down three things you want to accomplish today, take a few minutes for yourself.

“Alexa, play my morning playlist”. The more auditory and visual aides you have in place, the less time you’ll spend repeating yourself. This not only saves your sanity but, again, teaches independence. Music. Clocks. Visual timers. Checklists.

Rethink the order and space. If your kids are early risers who ask for breakfast right away but take forever to get dressed, make them get dressed before they can have breakfast. If they get distracted while brushing their teeth upstairs, organize a second set of supplies in the downstairs bathroom where it’s easier to keep a close eye. If it’s more convenient to brush and style hair in the kitchen, organize a caddy of brushes and hair accessories in a cabinet.

10 minutes. Put coats and shoes on 10 minutes before you have to leave or catch the bus. Five minutes isn’t enough time, especially when hats, scarves, gloves, and boots are involved and it’s better to get to the stop or school two minutes early then being late.

Be consistent. A routine makes things predictable for the whole family, decreasing that crazy, rushed, stressful feeling.