As a busy Mom of 6 young kids, I know that it can be a real challenge to get your kids out of bed, fed a hot and healthy breakfast, and have them ready to face the day in a calm fashion (think beauty without the bedlam!)

This time of year many of us have good intentions to become more organized and to find better ways to do things at home. I firmly believe that having family routines in place can help everyone in the family to understand what is expected of them during certain periods of the day and how each person can work to meet those expectations. So let’s look at 5 simple things that you can incorporate into your morning routine to help get your day off to a great start!

#1- Plan ahead

I am sure that you have heard this advice somewhere before… but one of the best ways to hit the ground running in the morning is to spend a few moments in preparation the night before. At our home, every Sunday evening I help the kids select their outfits for the next 5 days, and I place them into these great hanging bins for the girls, or into these mesh bins for the boys, which sit on the floor of their closet.

When they wake up each morning, they know to head to their bins and get dressed before they come downstairs for breakfast. No more trying on 14 outfits and leaving the discard pile on the floor for Mom to discover later!

For kids headed out to school, it helps to plan ahead what you are going to pack for lunch and prep as much of that ahead of time as possible. Gather homework and return it to its proper school folder and have that loaded into the kids backpacks. Make sure that you have any permission slips signed and put into the folders, and load up library books and any other supplies for special school activities. Anything that can be done the night before- should be!

#2- In the morning, get yourself ready first

I know that any time I am multi-tasking in the morning while trying to get the kids ready it just amps up my stress level. So rather than trying to blow dry my hair while simultaneously nudging the little ones along to get dressed, I set my alarm for 45 minutes earlier than the time that I need to wake up the first child. That gives me time to shower and get ready, make a cup of tea and perhaps check my email and blog before sleepy faces are looking towards me for some help.

#3- Work out a timeline of activity

In order for your morning to run smoothly, you need to know what your end-goal is and then work backwards to figure out what your morning timeline needs to be. At our house, working backwards through our timeline (at least for our 5 elementary schoolers) looks like this:

  • 8:25am- School bus arrives at the bus stop
  • 8:20am- Our family arrives at the bus stop
  • 8:15am- Load everyone into the car, and allow for a few minutes for kids to run back into the house to retrieve any forgotten items, such as mittens or a band instrument
  • 8:00am- Clear the breakfast dishes and begin teeth brushing, hair combing, getting shoes and coats on
  • 7:45am- The last of the hot breakfast items must be served
  • 7:30am- All kids need to be at the breakfast table and start helping to prepare their breakfast or place their request for hot items such as eggs or pancakes
  • 7:15am- Wake up time- hop out of bed, use the bathroom, and get dressed

Once you know your timeline, keep an eye on the clock throughout your morning so you know when to hurry kids along to the next step in your morning process.

#4- Help kids to be self-sufficient

We have set up tooth-brushing stations in two of our bathrooms so that they kids can find their toothbrush, flossers, toothpaste and get themselves started.

I’ll allow the younger ones to brush first before I do a “double check” to make sure that they have done a thorough job. This is also where I will do a final hair combing/styling and make sure that faces are clean before they are off to begin their day.

The kids each have a shoe bin and a hook for their coats. Having these areas helps them to be able to get ready on their own and makes them accountable for returning items to their proper places each afternoon after school (and helps to avoid the “let’s all hunt for the lost shoe” game at 8:15 each morning!).

#5 Expect a little silliness

But even with all of these simple routines in place, one of the biggest keys to having a smooth morning is to keep your patience and sense of humor with you at all times. These are still kids- and they need time to” get out their sillies” before heading off to school for the day. In our house that might mean re-enacting the dialogue from their favorite TV show over and over again while they eat. Yes, it might drive me a little crazy- but better here than during math class, right?

What are some of the ways you make your morning run more smoothly?

 My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 11, 9, 8, 7, 6, and 6. People often ask me “How do you do it?”, so I created Momof6 – a place where I share all of my tips on organizing your home, your schedule, your household routines, and your busy life!