The Secret to Getting My Kids Out the Door in the AM? A Lot of Work the Night Before

Mornings with my kids have always been a bit hectic. Although I make sure they go to bed at a decent time every night, they always wake up the next morning complaining that they're still tired. Moving like sloths, they take a while to get ready for school and make their way to the kitchen for breakfast. They may be physically awake and going through the motions, but they are still pretty much out of it. Getting them to make any kind of decision in the morning can feel like pulling teeth.

To make sure our mornings go smoothly and we get out the door in time, I decided to make one big change for our family: we plan ahead — and we plan as much as we can. As soon as the kids are done with their homework the night before, they put it neatly into their backpacks, so it's ready to go in the morning — no scrambling around to find their book report in the morning. It's been in their homework folder, safe and sound, since yesterday. We also look at the weather, and my kids decide what outfit they are going to wear the next day. They lay it out neatly for themselves the night before, so it's ready and easily accessible when they get out of bed. That way, they aren't staring at the clothes in their closet for 10 minutes in the morning trying to figure out what to wear that day.

As for me, I plan as much as I can as well. If my kids are going to bring lunch from home the next day, I make and pack their lunches the night before. This saves me time in the morning to do other things I wouldn't have had time for . . . like actually styling my hair instead of just putting it in a messy bun. I also use a planner and go over whatever is on my schedule for the next day to get as ready as I can ready in advance. For example, if I have to go to the dry cleaners, I'll put the clothes in my car the night before so I don't need to rush around the house finding them in the morning.

Planning ahead has definitely been a game changer for my family's mornings. Although my kids are in elementary school, I believe teaching them how to plan ahead is also teaching them about responsibility and accountability. Hopefully, they'll implement this planning-ahead technique in other aspects of their life as they continue to get older and take on more responsibilities. Because I know it's only going to get more hectic!