Morning time is usually crunch time, especially when the school bus starts rolling again. From dawdling kids to missing socks to unexpected permission slips that need to be signed, crazy mornings can ruin both your punctuality and your mood.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As the new school years starts to kick into gear, why not make a “new year’s resolution” (the September kind!) to start your day off on a calmer note. All it takes is a little organization, and we can help.

Here’s six ways to start your morning right:

Boy sleeping with dog

Reset Your Sleep Clock.

We get it. it’s hard to get up, no matter what. But it’s even harder to get moving when you’re drowsy and sleep-deprived. If you’re like most families and have been enjoying late summer evenings, it’s time to start resetting your sleep clocks.

“Because bedtime tends to be pretty fluid during the summer, kids really need to get in the habit of going to bed earlier, at least a week before the first day,” says Toronto-based professional organizer Elana Kleinman.

“Ease into earlier bedtimes and wake the kids up a touch earlier each day so that they’re not grumpy messes when the alarm goes off that first week.”

Start with Good Evenings.

Everyone says it, acknowledges Seana Turner, a professional organizer in Darien, CT, but that’s because it’s true. Do absolutely everything you can the night before to make your morning a no-brainer.

Among the items on your before-bed checklist should be checking the weather and schedule for the next day and making sure you have appropriate gear ready. You also should pack the lunches – trust us, it’s easier to do while you’re cleaning up from dinner since you’ll eliminate a morning mess – and enlist kids for age-appropriate tasks, such as choosing their snacks.

Boy With an Orange in His Mouth at Breakfast and His Father in the Background

Eliminate Breakfast Indecision.

You know the drill. You make your son’s favorite waffles only to have him inform you he doesn’t eat those anymore. Stacey Murray, professional organizer and owner of Organized Artistry in Fairlawn, NJ, suggests sitting down with each child to talk about the foods they would like to eat for breakfast on school days.

“Creating and posting a list of these foods saves both time and brain power in the morning,” she says.

If your child is into variety you can simplify the choices by declaring certain meals for specific days, such as Cereal Mondays.

It’s a smart idea to add breakfast prep to the night before list, as well.

"Girl (6-7) fastening backpack in kitchen, elevated view"

Create a Staging Area.

Eliminate the daily mania caused by missing items by designating a central location where kids can put their backpack, sports clothes, library books, and whatever they might need for the next day.

“Each child should have his own sacred spot, even if you have to repurpose a corner of the dining room,” Turner says.

Track Your Schedule.

With all the special activities kids are involved in, it can be hard to know which gear is needed what day. Turner suggests making a flip chart from index cards to remind you that, for example Monday is after-school taekwondo and Wednesday is library day.

Make a set of cards for each child, punch a hole in the corner and hook them onto a key ring to hang in a central location.

“When the kids leave for school, flip the card to the next day so the child can easily see what he needs to have ready,” Turner advises. And if track replaces taekwondo the next semester, the card is easy enough to replace.

Family In Kitchen Doing Chores And Using Digital Devices

Business Before Pleasure.

Good luck tearing a kid way from the iPad or SpongeBob to brush teeth. Of course, we know the feeling; Facebook has likely caused more of our own late arrivals than we’d care to admit.

“As adults, we know that certain tasks must get done before we can take a break, and kids have to realize the same thing on a smaller scale,” says Murray.

Once kids start playing or scrolling, they might not have enough time to finish their morning routine, which creates that harried mad dash out the door.

“My kids know that if they’d like to play before leaving for school, they need to get all their business done first such as brushing teeth and hair, packing backpacks, feeding pets and switching off lights in their rooms.”

Good advice for parents, too!

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Cathie Ericson
  • http://org4life.com Hazel Thornton

    Great tips from great NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizer) colleagues!

  • Vlasta Hillger

    Great suggestions! I especially like “every child should have their own sacred spot.