Good morning, sunshine!
February 10, 2016 11:52 PM   Subscribe

A friend of mine often says that he hates being a parent between 6 and 8 am (and I have to laughingly agree). Getting the children up, getting them dressed in seasonally appropriate clothing, delivering them to the educational institution of choice, dealing with whining and general lack of cooperation... aghhhh, I hate that this neverending struggle sets the tone for the day. So, parents of the Metafilter, what are your tricks, hacks and morning traditions that make your mornings with children great, or at least better?
posted by kitchencrush to Human Relations (33 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Get dressed the night before. This is especially easy if you have a child who's happy wearing leggings or sweatpants--shower before bed, and then just put on tomorrow's clothes instead of pyjamas. It's sometimes not appropriate, like if the kids have to dress up or whatever, but holy shit does it make things easier. And, assuming that the kids are older than about six or seven, stop worrying about if it's seasonally appropriate. Kids figure out what's seasonally appropriate for them fairly quickly--maybe they leave the house without jackets a couple times, but if they're cold, it won't be more than a couple times. And if they're not cold, who cares if they're wearing a jacket?

Eat breakfast en route, if you can. Fruit and nut bars, smoothies, those yogurt tubes, whatever. Even if you only have five minutes in the car, that's more than enough time for the average kid to suck down a thing of yogurt, and it's one less thing that you have to build into the schedule.

That said, it's also worth considering why your kids are whining and not cooperating. I didn't realise for a long time that plenty of people have children are relatively happy in the mornings--maybe reluctant to get up, but not actively fighting having to get dressed/leave the house/go to school. Do you have a kid who's a night owl, or who's bored at school, or being bullied, or suffers from anxiety or depression? If you do, dealing with that might help more than trying to hack your mornings. My mornings stopped sucking when I enrolled my daughter in an online school where she was much happier--she still wasn't wild about getting up for classes, but it was sort of a resigned ugh ok instead of actual whining and refusing to do it.
posted by MeghanC at 12:23 AM on February 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

- choose the clothes the night before and set them out. Or have your kids do it the night before. Including hats, gloves, shoes. In neat little piles.
- prepare as much of breakfast as you can, the night before (for example set out the juice and the cutlery, pour oatmeal in bowl.)
- get up earlier than your kids to enjoy a peaceful breakfast/coffee/whatever.
- stick to a schedule, so your kids know that breakfast is followed by diaper change, dressing , brushing teeth and putting on coats. Saves you a lot of brainwork for you and arguing for them.
- stay flexible. VERY flexible. This may sound contradictory, but having a schedule makes it easier to improvise. Basically, do whatever is easiest. If kid1 is not yet dressed but kid2 happens to be in the bathroom, brush her teeth already. Unless you sense that she will freak out about the unscheduled teeth brushing. If one kid is running around and one is reading on the ground, use that opportunity to wrestle shoes on the sitting one, don't interrupt the running one.
- yeah, they're meant to get dressed by themselves, but sometimes it's more important to start the day without all the nagging. It's okay to baby them a little.
- don't rush them. Leave enough time for them to do their thing.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:00 AM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

My partner and I try and share as much morning stuff as possible - he gets up and breakfasts with our kid, then showers while she gets dressed (or, usually, goes to get dressed and gets distracted). I get up once he's out of the shower and I have a shower while kiddo wanders around, still nominally getting dressed, or prepping part of her lunch, or packing. My partner heads off to work around this time.

Then I go downstairs and we pack lunches for me and her while I eat breakfast (or just drink a coffee). She helps sometimes. Then we are mostly done, and walk to school.

Easy bits - we've got about an hour to make lunch and get dressed, and for me to have a coffee and a shower. It usually takes that long. For reference I can be up and out of the house in 15 minutes when necessary. This is after the 45 minutes it takes to get dressed and have breakfast. We allow a lot of time.

We have a kid who has a preferred breakfast and that's it, rarely any deviation in the morning at all (winter is porridge, summer is oats with yoghurt/milk). She has a uniform, so there are rarely issues there now we have a full week of them. I will often try and make as much lunch/breakfast as possible in the evening, and that's when she does her homework as well. She goes to bed around 1930-ish, and I generally give her a reminder of what the morning will look like ("please tidy your room before coming into ours, I have an appointment so I will drop you off here/we need to be on time" etc). Most of the time she is already up and if I do have to wake her I try and do it with music, and lay out as much stuff as possible.

Difficult bits - kiddo and partner have something like ADHD (undiagnosed) and without a structure they do things like forget where they are going that day, leave their lunch behind, get distracted and are late. Kiddo is also six, so distractions are endless and myriad. I've instituted a card system where her duties in the morning are on pretty little cards that we pin to the wall. It's a slow process and she often still forgets and we often run late because she's forgotten to feed the cat or her homework is somewhere weird or her hat is under the table. I have anxiety so I can be an unreasonable asshole about timing as well, which is one of the reasons we have such a lengthy morning process. My partner has to get up at that time in order for him to get to work, so he makes her breakfast if she isn't already up, or has breakfast with her (loose term, they sit in the same room reading while they eat).

Uniform is something you can do in a fashion - during holidays we often laid out the next day's clothes at night when we had a full schedule. Pre-load in the evening what you can and work with your kid's rhythms - friends of mine do the car breakfast, because it works easier (or smoothies). My kid has her dad's metabolism so wakes up starving so if we make or set up breakfast she can get to it on her schedule.

Mostly I think it's having SO much time to do it all in. It irritates me sometimes (I am losing sleep for this) and I know I can get me and the kid out the door in 30 minutes, 20 if I push it, but it's a rush and she responds badly. I don't much like the hour-long process myself but I make it easier on me with the lazy coffee and lunch-making.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:03 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, time. It takes me 1,5 hours to get me and the kids (2+4 years) out of the house in a happy fashion.
Quarter of an hour less in summer.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:30 AM on February 11, 2016

Best answer: Kids need about 4x longer than me to get out of the house. That means 1 hour for us, minimum (adjust accordingly).
We have a yummy family breakfast. I don't think squeezing down a tube of yogurt in the car will make your kids happier about their mornings...and in general, I don't think 'unhappy kids' is a given for mornings. Do your kids get enough sleep? I find getting up the same time each morning (even on the weekend!) helps tremendously.
My child does not comply with clothes I pick out and mornings have gotten much easier since she's started dressing herself (age 4). Yes she will look hilarious sometimes. It's cute and her choice! But if your kid likes to have their clothes picked out, do that. Basically, take the route of least resistance, this is not the time of day to be super consistent or to discipline them.
posted by The Toad at 1:50 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I put out six different outfits for her (seven) to choose from on that she gets to flat out reject, but the rest I put together for her taste, not mine, and this works fine. Socks, underwear--the whole thing.

I make lunches on Monday mornings, when I don't run, and place them in paper bags marked 'Monday' 'Tuesday' etc with 'add fruit and juice box' marked on each of them. This is typically like a bag of nuts, a granola bar, and a baggie of cereal. Then whoever packs lunch grabs the contents of that day's bag and stuffs it into the lunch box and the bag goes back in the lunch bag basket and we do it again next week.

We have a printed form with checkboxes for what she's doing after school. We print out about thirty at a time, check whatever it is off each day, and it gets folded and put into the lunch pending bag, and then taken out on that day and put into her folder for school.

Key items are written on the chalkboard in the kitchen, like her spelling list for Thursdays.

It's an incredibly efficient machine and is nonetheless as frantic and bonkers as anyone else's morning and worse comes to worse I'll sweep all my make up into my computer bag and put it on at work and once I wore two different shoes to work.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:46 AM on February 11, 2016 [20 favorites]

Best answer: Some kids are difficult partly because all the organisation stuff deprives them of agency and dignity. Nobody really wants to be told what to do, in minute detail, because 'this is important stuff in the world', as if you're in the army. I think a lot of parents try to run their houses along military metaphors, but kids are more like recalcitrant office workers than crack troops.

So introducing some choices that they're able to make can help, getting them to dress themselves, choose their breakfast, and rewarding massively for that etc. while you're taking care of stuff in the background.
posted by colie at 2:58 AM on February 11, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Lower the stress. Lower the bar a little. Be imperfect. It's better to do things a little wrong and accept it than to get everything just right but only after rushing and complaining and commanding and raising stress levels. You want to drop the kid off at school feeling good and relaxed, not glad to escape you freaking out over stupid shit like socks and sandwiches.

The kid eats what the kid likes to eat (if it's a forbidden food, why is it in the house?). The kid wears what the kid likes to wear (as long as it's seasonally comfortable and won't get the kid mercilessly mocked or bullied). The kid gets to do what the kid wants to do as soon as the kid is ready to go (clothes on, food eaten, teeth brushed, backpack packed).

And keep a general checklist on or near the door so you can calmly check it as you get ready and before you leave.
posted by pracowity at 3:12 AM on February 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

and once I wore two different shoes to work.

I love you, A Terrible Llama.

OP, Keep in mind that this is stuff that works for our kids but not necessarily yours.

Things I've said that worked when heads were butted:
"Okay, I really don't have time to argue about this. if you're not dressed in ten minutes I'll take you to kindergarten in your pyjamas."
"This is the last time for you to eat. If you don't eat now, your next chance is the snack at kindergarten."
I said it calmly, but I meant it. So what if the three year old wears pyjamas for the day. She's freaking three years old.
It took the pressure off me and presented her with an honest choice.
(The breakfasting thing is a real choice, too. She doesn't much like the healthy snacks at kindergarten but will sometimes opt for that if it means she can keep on playing for a bit.)
posted by Omnomnom at 3:33 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

In our house it was two tools, a timer and positive reinforcement.

Upon being awakened the timer was set for 15 minutes, in that time we had to get up, brush teeth and get into our clothes. Upon completion of these tasks we received a couple of M&Ms.

Then a bowl of cereal and out the door.

Baths were taken the night before. Clothing was selected the night before. There really wasn't much of a choice.

Note: Dad is a behavioral therapist and Mom is one scary bitch.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:34 AM on February 11, 2016 [8 favorites]

Son is a threenager. The lengthy Christmas break totally destroyed our reasonably happy morning routine so I had to resort to behaviorism. We have laminated cards, each with a step in the morning routine. They live inside plastic pockets (think the things you put your work id in in order to wear it on a lanyard). On the other side if each card is a picture of something my son loves (his favorite cartoon characters etc) and every now and then one of the plastic pockets also contains either a sticker or a small candy (a single m&m or similar). The cards with the bigger rewards are random, I switch them up. As he completes each step of his routine, he gets to flip a card. So far it's working. I'll fade the rewards once we get reliably back on track.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:40 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think going to bed early enough the night before so that they wake up naturally is important. After waking up, the kid runs to our bed to snuggle - a few minutes of family snuggling really brightens up our mornings.

The kid dresses himself, including choosing clothes. We don't care about his fashion sense, and I announced that fact at the kindergarten (so now I don't get weird looks when the kid comes in wearing swimming goggles in the middle of winter). As long as he has all the "clothes categories" (underwear, tshirt, pants, socks, shoes, jacket) on his body, I don't care what they are or how he put them there or what accessories he chose.

If we complete the routine on time, I'll take him to the kindergarten slowly and unhurriedly, with plenty of opportunities to check out interesting things along our way, to joke and play. If we're late, Dad or I will carry him and drop him off without any opportunities to play. We were only late twice before he decided which way was better.
posted by gakiko at 4:46 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I just learned a hack for my two-year-old. I get up before her and make my coffee. Now, I make her oatmeal at the same time I make my own coffee. By the time I get her up and have her diapered and changed, the oatmeal is cool enough to be eaten.

After her evening bath, I also put her to bed in the knit shirt she's going to wear the next day.
posted by Piedmont_Americana at 4:56 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have really easy mornings, mostly because our son just happens to be a morning person. Kid goes to bed pretty early. I put out 5 outfits for the week on Sunday night, kid can pick what he wants to wear from those, but he usually doesn't care and sometimes I just hand him an outfit. He gets to watch cartoons with breakfast, which keeps him happy and lets us actually get ready. Our whole morning routine runs from about 5:45-7:05, so having plenty of time really helps. I find that I'm happier and more energetic in the morning when I make myself get up at 4:45 to go to the gym so I try to do that at least 4 times a week.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 4:59 AM on February 11, 2016

Best answer: I began reading this question thinking gosh I don't miss those times. I finished reading all the answers thinking oh how I miss those times!
So many good answers, all I have to add is music, sometimes loud, rotating choice so that everyone's favorites get a play during the week. Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass was a a common motivator.
posted by InkaLomax at 5:05 AM on February 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: What works for us; I agree with what everyone else said about prepping the night before as much as you can. Forms filled out, know where their clothes/hat/shoes are. Make sure the kid/s are getting enough sleep so they're not being dragged out of bed. I tend to talk to them about the fun things they're going to do that day, their best friend that they'll get to play with, what cool craft thing they'll be making, get them to look forward to going so that there isn't meltdowns at the idea.

If this isn't possible and you know your child and that they're prone to meltdowns regardless, build time for it into your morning. Allow for that extra ten minutes to calm them down so you're not snapping and understandably impatient because now everyone is late.

I also agree with what others have said about choice. At my house, the kids choose their breakfast, their lunchbox snacks, what news they will take to talk about in class and some aspects of their clothing. They also get to watch cartoons while I make their lunches which makes them happy. We are out the door in about an hour, sometimes less.

Now, they're only at preschool age so I couldn't tell you if things are going to get harder once thet are at school but for now, I'm really the only one who hates the morning run around. They love heading off and seeing their friends, it's all fun. I'll get back to you in a few years though if things change!
posted by Jubey at 5:16 AM on February 11, 2016

For regular days we make sure they are in bed early enough. This means they wake up like clockwork. Once they have dressed and eaten they're allowed to watch Netflix until it is time to walk to school (7:30 departure for a 7:50 start time). The grown ups make the lunches.

On days when we have to leave early because my partner is away and I start work early I have them go to bed in their clothes. Often we have their lunches catered at these times, an option at our school. They get up, eat a bowl of cereal and we are out the door at 6:55. I do a lot of cheerleading telling them how awesome they are for getting ready so early. I drive them to before-school care and continue to work on these days, and they like the treat of being driven.

In both cases, the early bedtime is the key step.
posted by Cuke at 5:19 AM on February 11, 2016

Finding a certain kind of meal-replacement-type smoothie that my daughter liked enough to have every morning has made all the difference in the world. Removes the stress of having to choose something she likes, removes the time required to sit down and eat it, and on the rare occasions when we are running early and I have time to make something more fancy, it's a real treat. Nutritionally it's not the best thing she eats all day, but it's not the worst either, and it's got lots of protein.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:22 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

My kids are pretty easy in the mornings. They actively like their school, so there's no fuss about going. We get up about 1.5 hours before we leave the house. When I used to try to get them out in 45-60 mins I was nagging at them a whole lot more. The extra time allows for them to move at their own morning pace. For example, this AM they did a small art project together (15 mins) and then rode their bikes in the driveway for 5 mins before we hopped in the car. I suffer a little over the lost sleep, but having yell-free mornings is worth it. My crew is 5 & 7 and dress themselves in uniform and then come out for breakfast and then immediately move on to grooming. The rest of the time is play.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:23 AM on February 11, 2016

Get dressed the night before.

I just want to second this because it's the single thing that's most eased getting our preschooler out the door in the morning.
posted by escabeche at 5:34 AM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm a single mom of two under 10, and it takes them 45-60min to get ready--but they do most of it themselves. I guess I "lovingly abdicated" a lot of choices and focused on when we need to get out the door rather than anything else they need to do to be ready. But I gave them a lot of scaffolding to set them up for success in their own getting ready. For instance...
- One of my kids is an early bird and doesn't need to be waked, the other is a sleeper. I do a loving wakey-wakey snuggle and one reminder, but beyond that they're on their own.
- At the beginning of the year I asked them when they want to be at school and marked our kitchen clock with an arrow for when we need to leave. (They did initially propose not going to school, so I asked instead how much time they wanted to set aside for calling their principal each morning to have that conversation. They opted to pick a time to leave for school.) I built in some extra time in their wake-up alarms to minimize stress because things happen.
- I printed out a list of things they need to do to get ready. For the non-reader I made pictures. (Get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack backpack, put on coat/boots/etc.) I'm happy to help out when they're stymied by gently directing them to the list.
- Everything they need to eat, dress, and get ready is physically accessible to them. Plates, bowls, cereal, clothing, etc, is all within reach in low drawers or cabinets in their room and the kitchen. Nothing critical is too high for them to reach in the fridge or pantry.
- When they whine about wanting me to do stuff for them, and they do whine sometimes because honestly life would be better if people did stuff for me!, I point out--neutrally, matter of factly, not rolling my eyes--the things I'm already doing (making lunches, loading the dishwasher, folding clean clothes, etc.) and ask if they want to do a trade with me. Sometimes we trade - yay! Sometimes we don't - yay!
- We have a general rule that we leave the house together. We walk to school and work, and some mornings bickering or playing can result in one kid being ready and the other lagging. 'Leaving the house together' means that they know better and better when to step away from sibling interactions so they're not making each other late.
- For the first month or so of each school year, I try to handle some of my own work the night before. If it looks like we're running late in the morning, it's gotten to the point where I say, "I'm ready to go when you guys are. Let me know when you want to walk out the door," and I sit down and read. Getting a little of my own work out of the way means I can "call their bluff" of goofing off, and not add to my own stress. And my announcement usually produces a flurry of cooperation as they race to get ready.

Underpinning all this is my honest belief that they are competent beings and that we--together and as individuals--can handle hiccups. They have forgotten books, homework, lunches, gym shoes, permission slips. But that's life, and we learn how to recover. They can watch me interact with a teacher matter-of-factly ("Can you email it to me and I email it back to you?" "Boy Cocoa will need to get a school lunch from the nurse today.") and handle many of the hiccups themselves ("I forgot my Spanish binder. I'll put it in my backpack next time instead of leaving it on my desk after I finish."). Those are all skills for becoming a person with agency, a person uncowed by power differences to the point of ineffectiveness, and able to adapt to the unpredictability of being part of a family, team, class, and community.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:51 AM on February 11, 2016 [30 favorites]

Best answer: Two things we did: First, we now set an alarm in the boy's room for about 20 minutes earlier than before. That's a huge amount of extra time for being awake but not so much for sleep. 2) As mentioned above, we try hard not to nag, as it makes everyone foul, and makes the kid intransigent. When he's been cavorting in front of the mirror for 10 minutes instead of dressing it's difficult not to nag but it's easier just to hold up the pants for him and finish the job together.

(I am amazed at any family that can incorporate TV into the morning flow. That would be like introducing a Slow All the Things to a Standstill Disease in our house.)
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:14 AM on February 11, 2016

I'm lucky that my son wakes me up every morning, as he usually gets up 30 minutes early to play videogames or watch youtube. Other than that, he showers when he gets home from school or later in the afternoon, so his get ready routine is usually waiting for us to wake up, then breakfast while watching TV.
It helps that we live 10 minutes walking from his school, too.
posted by signal at 6:31 AM on February 11, 2016

Early bedtime is definitely a must. I have one kid who will pop awake at 5 a.m. and be very happy about it (but then melts down during the day) and another one who has to be dragged out of bed at 7:30 a.m., complaining, if we let them stay up too late. If they are in bed by 7:30 and asleep by 8ish, they both wake up around 6:30 a.m., which is a lot better for both of them.

We don't stress about clothing - just that it has to be clean and appropriate for the day (e.g. gym day requires sneakers). My 4-year-old has gone to daycare in his PJs. Big whoop. He's refused to wear boots or a coat so we let him go outside and learn for himself that huh, if it's cold, he should wear a coat. If there's snow in the ground, boots making walking a lot easier. And etc.

My husband and I divide some duties so one person doesn't have to do everything, and this helps a lot. I'm usually out the door by 6:30 a.m. so I make sure that the kids have everything needed in their backpacks (like piano folder, mittens, nap stuff, bathing suit for swim day at daycare, etc.) He then gets the kids fed and makes their lunches. If they get dressed and eat breakfast and brush their teeth and there is time to watch one TV show, they are allowed to. If not, then no TV.

As long as the grown-ups wake up on time, everything runs smoothly. If one of us misses our alarms, then things get a little jammed up. Even if I don't have to work, I still get up really early because it sets the tone for the morning. I'm calm and relaxed and well-caffeinated by the time my kids come downstairs. If I, or my husband, is groggy and tired and the coffee hasn't kicked in yet, then it makes things a lot harder because we're cranky.
posted by sutel at 6:39 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pack lunches the night before.
Let the child sleep in clothes (as long as they have deodorant on, depending on age.)
Breakfast bars for mornings that we're running short on time.
Backpacks ready and loaded by the front door.
All they have to do in the morning is potty, wash face, brush teeth, and eat breakfast.

A good night's sleep for all.
Two alarms for me - I'm a night owl, and mornings are never ever going to be a natural fit for me. However, once I'm up, I'm good. :)
posted by heathrowga at 6:51 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

My still-not-morning-people-in-their-60s parents made it through my preschool years in part by drawing a pictorial breakfast menu that they taped to the fridge at toddler height so that I could pick a breakfast food without them having to list out all 3-4 breakfast options verbally yet again while I deliberated indecisively.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:13 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

In October or November I started letting my kids watch Curious George in the morning (we leave at 8 and it is on at 7:30) ... when I turn it on they know it's getting close to leaving time. Each "episode" consists of two 15-minute stories. When the first story ends, they have to get dressed. If they get dressed quickly, they can watch the second story; if they dawdle, refuse, or whine, they miss part of it or (if it goes on long enough) I just turn the TV off. When the show ends, they know it's time for shoes and coats.

There's still some whining and shouts of "NO!" but usually WHILE getting shoes or pants on. Curious George gives them a "clock" they can understand, so they're less fussy about leaving, and getting to watch the second half of the show is an incentive to actually get dressed. The predictability of the timing really, really helps with getting them dressed and out the door, and a clock is just a little too abstract at their ages. Now they understand the timing and can manage their own getting dressed and getting coats on. TV is maybe not the best parenting strategy but that stupid monkey has saved us a lot of whining and fighting and he's a great clock.

(As for breakfast I have no tips, I just sleepily prepare it when they haul me out of bed, I am a slow waker, but we have reached a detente, I provide the food and they feed themselves and then play quietly in the living room and leave me the hell alone for half an hour while I come to terms with the fact that the stupid sun is up.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:26 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I want to Nth getting dressed the night before. My kid has a uniform for school, and it STILL helps. Just, yes yes yes to getting dressed the night before. That's gotta cut at least 5 minutes off of "Have clothes laid out the night before".

On the other hand, I don't pack lunches the night before because my kid will throw a fit about wanting hot lunch or whatever at the last minute, but I do definitely have a "setup" for packing lunches, soon to be a setup for her to pack her own lunch.

Music helps.

My kids are young and like to be independent in some ways, but aren't ready for independence taking a short amount of time. To that end, we have them "help" in ways they can easily handle. My one kid just loves climbing up on a step stool to get his shoes on. Ok, time to get on the stool and do shoes.

Also, do you know the jacket trick?
posted by freezer cake at 9:52 AM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Make a chart with all the things the kids need to do before leaving the house (eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, feed cat) and the time at which they need to be out the door. If they get each thing done they get a sticker. If they hit all or most of their objectives on time for a day or a week, they get a prize. Incentivize those kids.
posted by trbrts at 11:00 AM on February 11, 2016

They need time to "come to." We turn on their light several minutes - like, 10-15 - before they actually have to get up. And all they have to do is brush teeth, put on the clothes that they chose and set out the night before, ideally eat something simple (on the order of, like, apple slices with peanut butter) and get in the car.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:04 AM on February 11, 2016

Mornings in my house can be quite the scramble - my wife leaves before I do, with one of the kids, while I wait until the school bus picks up the older. Usually, I'm rushing around to make the kids breakfasts and lunches and get them ready to get out the door, on top of trying to do my morning routine. The eldest has some learning disabilities as well, and we've learned that any bumps in the morning tend to lead to some emotional outbursts and challenges that slow things down even further. So here is what I have learned that makes things easier:

-I try to pack some of the lunches the night before; the dry stuff that isn't going to be harmed if it sits in their bags overnight. It does buy a few extra minutes in the morning, and I need those because I'm usually out of it for the first 10-15 minutes anyways. It also helps because I discover if we are running low on/don't have handy any particular item that usually goes into a lunch and can resupply if needed (either going to grab some from our storage room in the basement or running out to buy something).
-If I can bring myself to do it, get up 10-15 minutes before everyone else. Have my own breakfast, while I can read a book or look at the internet. Small thing, but it means I'm already rolling when everyone else is getting out of bed and I'm not getting frustrated because I'm taking care of everyone else's needs before I get my own dealt with.
-routine, routine, routine. It has taken a bit, but each kid knows what it expected of them - get up, get dressed, eat, brush teeth, get their gear (bag, coats, boots/shoes, etc) to the door, and maybe one or two other things. If they can get all that done before departure time, they get to sit with their iPad for a few minutes while waiting. It works, most mornings. My morning routine - up, making breakfast and lunches, is now rather set in and I can fumble my way through the first few steps while waking up, and I still tend to be the one doing those things even on days when my wife is staying home/will be the last out. Everything works well because everyone has kind of gotten to know their "job" and is pretty good at it.
posted by nubs at 11:33 AM on February 11, 2016

Best answer: Our youngest is in her second week of school, so we realised very quickly that we needed to get organised so that our two children (8 and almost 5 yo) got themselves ready quickly on school days and without heaps of hassle or stress.

The key thing is that we've drawn up a list of tasks they need to do and stuck it up on the fridge door with magnets. When they get home from school the day before they start preparing for the next day - unpacking bags, unpacking lunchboxes etc.

Then about a half hour or so before bed, we stop everything and say - OK, refer to the list. They then get their school uniforms out, breakfasts ready (or at least what they can get ready), lunches packed in their lunchboxes and in the fridge, all the rest.

It means that when they get up, they have things ready to go or things far easier to prepare - lunches are done, breakfasts are part done, clothes out, bags ready to pack. Shoes are outside ready to go as well.

The lists also work with other things - homework and readers, packing up before bed, a few other small tasks.

And we as parents have to drive this too. Our rule is that, as far as possible, before we all flake out and relax entirely for the evening, we get the tasks that need to be completed done to prepare for the next day.

15 minutes of effort the night before saves at least 30 minutes of time the next day.
posted by chris88 at 3:50 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Awesome routines, people. Also, I had no idea that so many people dress their kids in next day's clothes when putting them to sleep. This is the first time I've heard of it. And seconding whoever said that taking your kid to kindergarten in their pyjamas (when they refuse to get dressed) is a perfectly reasonable option.
posted by kitchencrush at 10:28 PM on February 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

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