Make Your Back-to-School Morning Routine Run Smoother

By Jessica Pigza

For most, school has already started and the lazy days of summer are over. The peaceful mornings are now overcome by chaos and the constant banter back and forth of me, trying to keep my kids on task and them, asking me where their stuff is. I always say I’m going to get my act together and look polished in the morning but everything is so rushed that I make myself the last priority. As soon as the bus leaves with my older two, I have exactly 15 minutes to make the 15 minute drive to take my youngest to pre-school, which means every morning we need to leave, now, like right now!

In an effort to help expedite the morning process I did everything for my kids to get them ready for school. I made their lunches, I poured their cereal, found their shoes, packed their backpacks and yes, sometimes I even brushed their teeth. Because I did everything for them, it didn’t leave me much time to get myself ready. But that is life, right? We always put our kids before ourselves leaving little time to spend on ourselves.

I’m also not a morning person, so waking up early to get myself together before the kids woke up wore off quickly. Waking up tired just so I could have the time to hide the fact that I was tired didn’t make much sense, so I started opting for sleep instead. I felt down that after only a week into it, the back to school grind was getting the best of me. It was going to be a very long year if I didn’t at least try to make a change. What if I was able to feel put together as I waited for the bus with the big kids and when I walked my little girl into school? What if I could do this and still get my sleep? How would that feeling of self confidence affect the rest of my day? Would I be more productive? Would I feel happier?

So now I’m making some changes in our household, I’m trying something different. I know my kids are more than capable of doing the simple tasks that are required to get ready for school. If I could make myself step back and act more as a guide, then maybe, I would have the time to get myself ready too and we could all have a less stressful morning. 

Here are some ideas on how I’m planning to give myself some extra “me” time in the morning.

1. Keep It Simple

I’m a lover of Pinterest! According to my pins I’m a gosh darn Martha Stewart, however, good intentions do not always mean execution. I find myself spending way too much time researching ideas on how to get organized. Then I spend even more time trying to organize those ideas to get organized. Finally after spending entirely too much time on trying to be organized, I end up having nothing to show for it except an even bigger mess and time I will never get back. I’m keeping it simple this school year. I have created a place for the kids to hang their backpacks, a place to hang their lunch boxes, wall bins for their folders and a bin for their shoes by the door. That way in the morning we at least know where those things are, which means less running around and things don’t get lost in the abyss that is their room.

This year we added our youngest to the wall. My husband put up the hooks which you can find here and I added the letters to defuse any arguments over which hook belonged to which kid.

The pockets are where they put anything I need to see or sign. Each kid has a pocket and the bottom one is for library books. Next to the pockets is my calendar which I can easily check for upcoming events. I even bought a little pen/pencil container that sticks to the fridge in an effort to better remember to write things down. 

Any crate or container will work for their shoes. Have fun with it and find one that works with your decor. I found this one last year and decided to make it our shoe bin. Find one similar here.

2. Create a Morning Routine for the Kids

I am always making lists. I depend on lists to keep me focused and on task, so why not make a list for my kids too? Maybe it will help them during the most chaotic part of our day. I created a morning routine check list for each of my kids. It’s nothing fancy. It’s printed on plain white paper, put it in a page protector, taped to their closet door and they use dry erase marker to check off completed tasks. Now instead of asking if they brushed their teeth or made their beds, ate breakfast or got dressed, I simply ask them if they are following their lists. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not delusional in thinking the novelty may wear off, but that is where I’m hoping the reward system will help out. If they’re able to complete all of the tasks they get a sticker. Once they accumulate a set amount of stickers they will be rewarded with anything from cake-pops to a little extra TV time. By keeping them interested and engaged I’m hoping to keep them sticking to the list.

My older two are able to read so their lists were typed up and included everything I was constantly reminding them to do to get ready in the morning.

My youngest however, can not read yet so in addition to the tasks being typed out, I added pictures to better help her complete the list on her own. 

I found these reward charts in Target’s dollar section. They came in a pack of 16 complete with stickers. I let the kids pick out their reward, within reason, so that way they are more invested in trying to earn it.

3. Keep My Kids Accountable

This one is so hard for me because I do not want my kids to fail, however they are at the age where they need to be responsible for getting ready in the morning and making sure they have all their stuff. (See #2) I came to this strong realization when my daughter came home one day and informed me that I forgot to put her folder in her backpack. I realized that she needed to know that it is up to her to make sure she has what she needs before she leaves. Now that I have their lists in place, I have stressed to them that it is their responsibility to complete each task. I will always be there to support and guide but I need to let them do it on their own and show some independence. If they forget something they can’t blame others but must learn to accept the consequences of their actions. I’m sure there will be some challenges at first and some folders may be forgotten but hopefully they are learning and by taking a step back I’m able to spend the time I need to get myself ready.

4. Teach My Kids to Plan the Night Before

Trust me I know this one is not easy either. Just like the morning routine it will take some practice but the more they can have ready the night before, the easier the morning will be. Every night before school I have them lay out their clothes and pick out their shoes, trying to be mindful of whether or not they have gym or a special event the next day. I also have them load up their backpacks and make sure all contents are accounted for or that they at least know where they are. As we all know, knowing what we are going to wear in the morning is a real time saver!

My son has his pajamas ready to go for nighttime on one hook and his clothes with socks for the next day on the other hook. I’m lucky that my kids aren’t too picky about what they wear but picking it out the night before helps so much! 

5. Practice What I Preach

So now that I’ve been working on a routine with the kids, it’s time to do one for myself. I’m not a morning person, so for me it’s so much more productive to plan out the next day the night before. It’s quiet, I can think better and somehow the night just seems less stressful. I figure out what items take the most time for me in the morning and try to get them done at night. These items include:

  • Laying out what I’m going to wear (for more help with this be sure to sign up for the 2017 Fall GYPO Style Challenge!)
  • Packing the kids lunches (except for their sandwiches) and writing their notes
  • Looking at the calendar so appointments and events don’t catch me by surprise the next day
  • Showering and washing my hair the night before
  • Putting the bowls, spoons and cereal on the table so the kids can help themselves in the morning

We are just finishing up our third week of school and we’ve been putting these ideas into practice for the last week or so. So far the kids seem to enjoy the independence of doing things on their own, especially my oldest and I’m hopeful that eventually some of these practices will become habit, for all of us. I know that as the kids grow, our routines will be ever changing and evolving, but so far our mornings have been running a lot smoother. Don’t get me wrong though, our mornings are not perfect, they never will be because life isn’t and I’m totally fine with that. It is nice though to have a little more time now to get myself ready too and not sacrifice sleep.

About Jessica

Jessica is a military wife, married to her husband Nate of 14 years, and stay at home mother to three energetic and fearless children, Sophia, Brandon and Rachel. Originally from Greensburg, Pennsylvania, the military life has given her a chance to live all over the United States and meet many amazing people along the way.






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