Hassle-Free Mornings

Seven habits to make mornings easy on the whole family

By Sara Kendall


“Where’s my backpack?” “Did you lose that permission slip?” “I don’t want cereal!” “You have to wear clean socks!”

Sound familiar? For families with school-age kids, mornings can be hectic. When they are too crazy, tempers flare and everyone in the household risks being late for school and work.

This does not have to be the norm. With seven simple steps, your family can restore peace and harmony to the morning. Everyone will feel better.

  1. The night before, check your children’s school's activity calendar and review your own work schedule. Make sure any projects are done, library books gathered, and permission slips signed. If you have to take anything into the office in the morning, get it ready tonight. Finally, check the weather forecast. Rain? Snow? Pull out raingear, boots, mittens, and hats now.
  2. Most school systems print lunch menus online. Ask your kids if they want to buy lunch the next day or would prefer taking it from home. If you or your offspring cannot make the full lunch the night before, at least make sure you have all the fixings, assemble drink bottles and decide on snacks.
  3. Get your children into the habit of packing their backpacks after their homework is done in the evening. You will have to help younger kids gather books, papers, permission slips and anything else. Doing so will allow them to easily slip into the practice as they get older. If lunch is not an issue, stow the backpacks in the car now, or set them near the door for easy morning access.
  4. Set out non-perishable breakfast foods, plates, bowls, and cutlery the night before. This might include cereal, granola bars, bananas, and bagels. This makes it easy to get the milk, juice, butter and berries from the refrigerator the next morning. When the choices are right there, older kids will make their own breakfast without prompting, and might even help the littler ones pour cereal or slice a banana.
  5. Talk to your kids about the weather report so that the older ones can figure out what to wear the night before. For some kids, choosing their outfits is stressful and so making the decision now, when time is not a pressing issue, is helpful.
  6. Set alarms for 10 minutes earlier than necessary. To compensate for this, you might want to encourage the kids to turn in a little earlier than usual. Building an extra 10 or 15 minutes into the morning can be the difference between calm and chaos. Can’t find the car keys? No worries! You have time to riffle through your bag and pockets.
  7. Restrict or ban television, computers and video games in the morning. Kids zone out in front of screens, and busy school mornings are not the time for this. Play relaxing music instead to help everyone feel tranquil.

Successful mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. By incorporating these seven habits—adjusted to meet your family’s needs—school days will begin smoothly.