For most families, mornings are the most chaotic time of the day. Getting yourself ready and out the door in conjunction with your children is no small feat, and one that often involves lots of rushing around, nagging, stressful conversations and everyone feeling frazzled.
But no more!
We have brainstormed and scoured the net to bring you the best organization tips and genius hacks that will make for breezy mornings where everyone is ready to go on time, and most importantly, leaves the house with a smile on their face.
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Pin for reference when that urge to organize strikes!
Do your prep work
A stress-free morning starts the night before (or in some cases, days before) with a little extra leg work. Put in 10 minutes at night and you’ll save double that in the morning – a worthy pay off indeed!
PICK OUT CLOTHES & ACCESSORIES FOR THE WEEK
Nothing can slow down a fast-moving train like a child hemming and hawing over what to wear. Nip that indecision in the bud by planning your child’s outfits for the week in advance. We suggest doing this on the weekend when you have a little extra time, and to include your child in the selection process. Collect all of the outfit components (clothing, under garments, socks, and accessories) and organize them by day using one of the smart methods below.
Make sure you look at the weather for the week to coordinate each day’s outfit with the corresponding forecast. Double check each night to make sure what you’ve chosen is still appropriate, especially in Spring and Fall when the weather can fluctuate greatly from day to day.
(1) Make special hooks with tags for each day of the week on the back of a closet door – then simply hang each day’s selected outfit on a hook, and you’re done! (via Shelterness)
(2) Put each day’s outfit on a hanger and place undergarments, socks and accessories in a Ziploc bag. Make a hole at the top of the bag to slip over the hanger and write the day of the week for each on the label space. (via The Sunny Side Up Blog)
(3) Use a nifty hanging closet organizer like this example from Better Homes & Gardens and put each day’s outfit onto a different shelf. Try this 6‑shelf one from Innovative Home Creations ($8.99) which already includes the days of the week!
(4) Or go super simple and clear out a drawer in your child’s dresser and make outfit piles with sticky notes on top for the day of the week. This costs nothing and is still super effective. (via The Idea Room)
(5) We also love this incredible over-the-door Days of The Week Hanging Organizer that has a large pouch for the clothes and a smaller section for any socks and accessories. It can even be personalized!
(6) “Today I’ll Wear” Hanger: Make a special area to hang the next day’s outfit, all ready to go. Use a simple damage-free Command hook on a wall or behind a closet door. Or make it a little fancier like the one pictured here from House For Five, using a frame and vintage drawer pull.
And if there are several components to the outfit that need to be hung together, use a soda can tab to attach them together! (via Listotic.com)
(7) Alternatively, use these custom Days Of the Week hangers from R Michael Creations – the days are actually burned into the natural wood!
(8) Pick up some simple plastic storage drawers (two of these 3‑drawer units should do the trick), and label them with the days of the week. Place each day’s outfit in the corresponding drawer and voila, your child has easy access to that day’s clothes. (via Life Of A Modern Mom)
(9) Grab some of these Weekly Hanger Markers ($11.75) for a simple solution that’s great for older kids who can hang their clothes independently, and may turn their nose up at any “kiddy” systems.
(10) We also love the Sugarbooger Children’s Closet Dividers ($9.99) which you can label with the days of the week (and also includes size or type labels for the ultimate organized closet!) or these Oblong Rack Dividers ($8.99) which have big bold writing that is easy for kids to read.
GIRL’S ACCESSORY ORGANIZATION
If you have a daughter, you’ll know that outfit planning goes far beyond clothing, and keeping their accessories neat and organized is a key component to a smooth morning. If everything has a place, it’s simple for you and your child to select their matching pieces for each day and the multitude of bows, clips and elastics are much more likely to find their way back “home” at the end of the day.
(1) For those teeny tiny hair elastics, try a weekly pill organizer like this one. These are also fantastic for travel — just pop it in your bag and you’re good to go.
(2) If you’re handy, try this stunning rustic Hair Bow Clothes Line from Live A Little Wilder. It’s fantastic for displaying soft headbands and could even be used for jewelry too.
(3) You’ll never lose a hair elastic again if you use this simple carabiner trick from Hi! It’s Jilly
(4) Try a magnetic paperclip holder for easy access to Bobby Pins (via Good Housekeeping)
(5) If you’re really overrun with bows, clips and headbands, opt for an inexpensive Tackle Box with multiple levels!
(6) We love this clever idea from Tatertots & Jello that uses Silverware Trays to create a colorful and super organized storage area for a child’s jewelry collection.
(7) Make this easy DIY bow hanger from Our Fifth House which can be hidden on the back of a closet door
(8) If you’re not up for a DIY project, stick them in an over-the-door shoe holder like this one (via I Can Teach My Child)
(9) Or keep them all organized (and nicely contained) in a craft storage box with removable dividers (via The Idea Room)
PACK UP BACKPACKS AND LEAVE BY THE DOOR
A pre-packed backpack is crucial in your smooth exit from the house because it’s often the step that holds you up when you are thisclose to leaving. Make sure you involve your kids in the process (have them fly solo if they’re old enough), and pack it up before they go to bed as part of their nighttime routine. This includes any homework or folders (checked by mom if necessary), signed forms, library books, etc.
CREATE A COMMAND CENTER/BACKPACK AREA
Having a designated space for each child’s backpack and belongings will make the task of pre-packing much easier, so consider creating an awesome Command Center with space for backpacks and a family calendar. We’ve collected a sample of our favorite examples to provide some inspiration:
(1) Backpack Cart via The Organized Housewife (2) Small Space Command Center via Better Homes & Gardens (3) Clever Utility Area via Better Homes & Garden (4) Corkboard Mudroom via Houzz (5) Rustic Mudroom via Wayfair (6) Photo Display Hooks via Little Daisy May (7) Entryway Organization via Martha Stewart (8) Under-the-Stairs Storage via Houzz (9) Shelves with Hook Nook via Get On With It Already (10) Play By Play Magnetic Wall via Houzz (11) Kitchen Command Center via Ciburbanity (12) Family Command Center via See Vanessa Craft (13) Organized Command Center via One Creative Housewife
PREP EXTRA-CURRICULAR/SPORTS BAGS FOR ANY AFTER-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES
If your children have extra-curricular activities, prep their equipment the night before. If they’re old enough, get them involved and hold them responsible for packing it themselves. They can use the family calendar in your new Command Center to see what activities they have during/after school and can plan accordingly (grabbing soccer cleats, dance shoes or extra snacks where need be).
For younger kids, take a picture of everything that should be in their activity bag and print it out…then they’ll know exactly what needs to be packed!
PROGRAM COFFEE MAKER
If you need your coffee to function in the morning, have it ready the moment you walk into the kitchen. Program your coffee maker to start brewing your hot cup o’ Joe at the same time your alarm goes off, and you’ll have your real wake-up waiting for you. That way you won’t waste any valuable time in your pre-coffee haze steering your ship in the right direction.
PREP/PACK SCHOOL LUNCHES
We have to admit, we hate doing this. It’s the last thing we want to do after a long day, but you know what we hate even more? Doing it in the morning while trying to prepare breakfast, change a dirty diaper and drink our coffee. So bite the bullet and get as much of it packed as you can the night before. Better yet, teach your kids how to pack their own lunches and then you’re totally off the hook!
PRE-MAKE GRAB ‘N’ GO PORTIONS
To make lunch packing easier, make pre-portioned sides and snacks ready to grab in your pantry and fridge. For the pantry, we usually keep trail mix, crackers, popcorn, granola bars, and raisins at hand, and in the fridge we aim to always have a selection of pre-cut carrot sticks, melon, grapes, berries, clementine’s or mandarins, snap peas, pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, cheese sticks and yogurt in stock.
Just look at these awesome snack ‘n’ side bins from Blooming Homestead!
CREATE AN ORGANIZED LUNCH PREP STATION
And to make packing even easier, create a special “Lunch Prep” area in your kitchen that has everything you’ll need in one place. It can be a cupboard, drawer, shelf or even a Rubbermaid container. Include all the necessities like the Lunch Box (umm, yea), Thermos, small snack baggies or containers, cutting board, kid friendly knives, water bottles, utensils and napkins.
The Morning Routine
If you have younger kids, getting them up early is probably the least of your worries, but for older kids, or those who like to “sleep in”, try setting them up with Clocky, an amazing alarm clock that rolls away from you when it goes off. Meaning that you have to actually get out of bed to turn it off (could also come in handy for yourself!).
The more your kids can independently get themselves ready, the easier your mornings will be. These incredible morning routine charts will help keep your kids on track:
(1) Dry Erase Checklist via Sweet Rose Studio (2) Do it! Did It! Chart via Art Bar Blog (3) Magnetic Job Chart from The Crafting Chicks (4) Girls & Boys Get Ready Chart via Icing on the Paper (5) Cookie Sheet Chore Chart via Craftaholics Anonymous (6) Morning Routine Flash Cards via Living Locurto (7) Flip up Chore Chart via My Name is Snicker Doodle (8) Morning Routine Hook Chart via Live Simply Me (9) Kids’ Daily Checklists via The Chirping Moms (10) Our Morning Routine Chart via i heart organizing (scroll down to access printable)
Out the Door
SHOES & COAT TIME
Okay, you’re in the home stretch, but getting on shoes, coats and whatever else is needed for inclement weather (add an extra 10 minutes for snow boots, snow pants, mittens and more!) can be a total time suck.
Use this nifty sticker hack to help your kids put their shoes on the right feet. These durable vinyl stickers from Shoezooz ($7.99) are fantastic, and also teach them “left” from “right”.
Want a sure fire way to get your kids through their morning routine quickly and painlessly? You gotta get a Time Timer. This little clock visually shows your children how much time they have remaining for a task. You simply set it for a certain number of minutes, and the time they have left is shown in red. As time elapses, the red section gets smaller and smaller. Even toddlers can understand the concept of time being “almost up” with this genius device. (editor’s note: it’s also great to set for iPad/video game time, studying, and taking turns with siblings…we use ours every day and it’s a complete game changer!)
Make the bathroom portion of their morning routine a breeze with these genius hacks to keep them organized:
(1) Make a Bathroom Caddy for each child using a storage container with clearly labeled tasks (try this one which is already divided into 3) Photo courtesy of Systems For Sensory Kids.
(2) Mount some floating shelves like this set to make fun Bathroom Wall Cubbies – paint them different colors and add each child’s name. Drill a hole in the bottom of each cubby for their toothbrush to slide in – genius! (via Decora Decora)
(3) Velcro plastic cups to the inside of their bathroom cabinet. When it’s time to wash up, they can grab their cup and go. Such a smart idea from Living Well Mom.
(4) Give each child a towel hook (bonus points for adding beautiful photographs of them like The 36th Avenue) and make sure they’re low enough so your kids can hang up their towel all by themselves!
(5) Use a simple cutlery drawer organizer for neat storage of toothbrushes, toothpaste, flossers and a timer.
(6) Hang individual Mason Jars so each child has a place to put their own toothbrush and toothpaste. DIY your own using this tutorial from Lolly Jane, or buy a beautiful pre-made one from Twin Oak Rustics.
(7) Use some velcro to mount dollar store kid’s cups to the wall. (via Cars Trucks and Teething Rings)
(8) Never see your kid’s toothpaste all over the counter again with this hands-free Toothpaste Dispenser (and bonus germ-free toothbrush holder!)
(9) Tidy up your counters with this neat Bathroom Counter Organizer with space for 5 toothbrushes, 3 rinse cups (assign each child their own color), and 2 tubes of toothpaste.
(10) Hang a colorful bucket with each child’s supplies right next to the sink for easy access. (via Better Homes & Gardens)
(11) DIY an easy toothbrush holder using PVC pipes that’s hidden behind closed doors. Follow the tutorial at Crafting In The Rain.
Kids often aren’t super hungry in the morning, but as mama birds, we want to make sure they still get some energy into their bodies before a long day at school, daycare or running errands with yours truly. Try livenin’ up things with any of the incredible products from our popular post 26 Products To Make Eating Fun. Great For Getting Picky Eaters To, Well, Eat that will make for a quick and painless mealtime.
And how awesome are these genius cups from Puj that will stick to your fridge and help your kids get their own water? They’ll also be assigned a color so they’ll have 1 cup for the day, putting a stop to the endless parade of cups on the counter that no one knows to whom they belong.
After you’ve gotten yourself dressed in the morning, throw your bathrobe back on over your clothes. This will save your outfit from any breakfast related accidents or sticky finger marks that always wind up on the back of mommy’s shoulders.
And teach them the “Pre-School Flip” so they can put their coat on all by themselves. Kids love to do this move! Check it out at Playdough to Plato.
SOUND THE ALARM!
Need to be out the door by 8:30am? Set your phone alarm to go off at 8:20 (or however long you need to kick it into high gear) – this will serve as your warning for everyone to go to the bathroom and start getting on shoes and coats.
“DON’T FORGET” LIST
Hang a list (or a sticky note) on the back of the door with important last minute reminders.
Give yourself a high five, you did it! Now collapse in a heap and start preparing for tomorrow.
But in all seriousness, we promise if you choose just a few of the tips from this list, you’ll be in much better shape come the morning rush tomorrow. And really the most important part of a stress-free morning is having a routine and sticking to it. Once you and your kids start putting these tips into motion, they’ll become second nature – you’ll have a smooth, well-oiled machine in the A.M. that doesn’t run on nagging or “we’re late”s – Hallelujah to that!
What’s your favorite tip on this list? Do you have anything morning-time hacks we should add? Tell us about them in the comments – we’d love to hear from you!
Pssst — before you go, we’d love to have you join our What Moms Love community and we’ll hook you up with all of our exclusive resources including our popular 10 Screen-Free Toys For Guaranteed Quiet Time (this is seriously a game changer mamas!), Holiday/Birthday Coupon Book for Kids and 35 Food Subs & Swaps for Healthy Family Meals. Just let us know where to send all your goodies!
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