The alarm goes off and you slap that snooze button with feeling. You just want five more minutes before you have to launch yourself at full velocity into the dreaded morning rush. Would you believe that the dreaded morning rush doesn’t have to be dreaded or a rush? All it takes is a little preparation and organization to get the family out the door, with time (and energy) to spare. Here are six tips to make the daily get-to-school-and-work scramble a little less hectic for everyone.
Reality time check
Make sure you’re giving yourself and your family enough time to complete your typical morning routine in the first place. Over a period of a few days take note of the time you wake and the time the clan heads out the door. Is everyone super-stressed and feeling rushed? If so, ask yourself these three questions:
1. Are you and your family waking up early enough?
2. Are there distractions that are taking up time (TV watching, phones, checking email, video games, chronic outfit indecision)?
3. Are there members of your family who spend too much time looking for misplaced items (their shoes, their homework, their keys)?
Once you become aware of your family’s time and how and where it’s being spent, everyone can take steps towards making better use of it.
Make the most of the night before
Do as much as you can the night before, such as packing lunches, choosing outfits (equally important for both parents and kids!), completing any forms or paperwork your children need for school or daycare, packing backpacks, and planning for breakfast. Even better, implement all of these things into an evening routine. An example of an evening routine could be homework, dinner, packing lunches and backpacks, outfit selection, bath, story time, and then — mercifully! —bed. Completing these things in the evening will save you time and stress each morning.
Establish a morning routine
Establishing routines for both parents and children can be helpful in creating a calmer out-the-door experience. Routines for children are especially helpful because they help set expectations and create a pattern your children can and will follow. The key is consistency. If your evening routine is set up to better prepare you for morning deployment, your a.m. routine could be as simple as waking up, showering, dressing, eating breakfast, and heading out the door with a small kiss. Routines are boring, you say? If boring equals smoother mornings, maybe boring is the new exciting!
Set up a "drop zone" near the door
The "drop zone" is an area near the front door that holds all the items you need to take with you when you leave the house each day: your children’s backpacks, your baby’s diaper bag, your work bag, items to return to a store, dry cleaning, shoes, jackets, and the like. Having this zone established near your door and placing your "drop" items there the night before will save you much "hunting and gathering" time in the morning. Keep in mind this area only works if you drop items here as you enter the house each time — it works both ways!
Create a checklist and post it near the door
If you find yourself forgetting items once you’ve left the house, you might need to create a checklist. A client of mine with a 6-month-old baby kept forgetting items — important items (the diaper bag, car keys, her glasses) — when she left the house. She also would worry that she left the heater on, her curling iron plugged in, or forgot to feed the cat. To help her remember and alleviate her worry, we worked together to create a checklist she hung on the back of her front door that listed the items she needed each time she left the house, as well as things she needed to do before she left the house. Now, every time she heads out, she makes certain she has those important things completed.
Easier said than done, I know. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Come to my house at 8 a.m. and see if you remain calm!” Remember, though, that the energy you project affects those around you, and if you keep a calm and composed demeanor, those around you will be more likely to follow your cue and remain composed as well!
About the author
To read more tips from Innovatively Organized and organizing and productivity expert Elizabeth Bowman, check out the Innovatively Organized blog, where new tips, tricks and information about the latest apps and organizing products are posted regularly. Innovatively Organized is a Seattle-based organizing and productivity firm that provides effective organizing solutions for busy professionals, teams, and families to better manage their time, increase productivity, and gain control of their spaces. You can contact Elizabeth Bowman via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org; via Twitter at @iOrganized; or visit her website, InnovativelyOrganized.com.