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Morning Checklist
Some mornings, everything runs smoothly. However, mornings can quickly turn hectic for families, what with everyone scrambling to get ready and out the door.

That’s why setting up a schedule can help you start the day in a more organized, peaceful manner. Now, you may be thinking, “I’m not a schedule kind of person.” But if you take the time to plan a simple routine now, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches each morning.

And what parent wouldn’t want that? The suggestions below have worked well for other families. Read through them and see if there are useful tips to help make your mornings more manageable!

Step 1: Where do I start?
  • Reserve a spot for everything you and your spouse take with you when you leave the house, such as cell phones, library books, keys, a briefcase or a diaper bag. When you keep these items confined to one place, you won’t have to hunt them down in the morning.

  • Near the front door, set up a shelving unit or bookcase with baskets or bins, either in different colors or labeled for each child. Add hooks that your children can reach for clothing, book bags and anything else they need before they leave the house.

  • Remind everyone to place their belongings in the designated locations. Set aside time at the end of the day for everyone to sort through their things and prepare for the following day.

  • Set out your kids’ clothes the night before. By taking this step at bedtime, you eliminate the hassle of getting your child to decide what to wear the next day. Making lunches during the evening also saves you precious time the next morning.

Step 2: Morning

  • If you can manage it, get up a half-hour to an hour before the rest of the household. This time can be used to read, exercise, get caught up on the news or just review your priorities over a cup of coffee. However, if rising early means you’ll be dragging the rest of the day, stay in bed!

  • If your kids have a hard time getting up, set their alarm clocks to a soft music setting. If you have very young children, don’t wake them until you have a chance to get yourself and the rest of your family ready.

  • Try to allot 10 minutes for everyone to make their beds and put away their pajamas.

  • Make sure everyone eats a healthy breakfast, including you. On busy mornings, keep it simple—cereal, fruit and toast, for example. Weekends are the time for home-cooked, lazy breakfasts!

  • Children who are old enough should carry their own dishes to the dishwasher. They can also help put away food and wipe off the table. Not only will this help things move swiftly—you will be teaching your kids great habits.

  • If you have more than one child, set up a bathroom schedule for brushing teeth, washing, etc. That way you avoid conflicts over who gets to use the bathroom first, and for how long.

  • Grab your gear and start the day feeling calm and in control!
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education