Katie Bugbee of care.com
Getting out the door on a school day is never easy. You have kids to feed, lunches to make, gear to pack, backpacks to remember. Plus, you also need to make sure that they're getting themselves dressed and ready to go -- and that seems to be about as easy as herding ants (i.e., worse than cats). Even if you've hired someone to help you out in the mornings -- whether it's a before-school babysitter or a mother's helper -- this morning madness is pretty much inevitable.
The good news is that there are some steps you can take to make your mornings go more smoothly. Here are our three big tips for getting out the door efficiently:
Use our pre-bedtime checklist (one for elementary school kids and one for preschoolers) to help kids remember to put their backpack by the door, pack for soccer/music/dance/Karate/etc., and pick out what they want to wear the next day. Use a family calendar to keep kids in-the-know and everyone else -- from parents to babysitters and nannies -- organized about activities.
The best part about our morning checklist is that it not only has visuals for the non-readers, but it has empty clocks for you to add times they should expect to finish certain tasks. Place a clock (with hands) in the hallway near their bedrooms so everyone can be kept on track and gets out the door on time.
Giving kids their own responsibilities lets you focus on yours. This might include making breakfast, packing lunches and signing forms. Place the lunch boxes and paperwork in the appropriate backpack (placed by the door the night before), and sit with the kids for breakfast. Leave some time at breakfast to go over the day's schedule and any reminders you have for them.
Pro Tip: Cutting out technology in the morning (TV and video games) will streamline your routine and create less whining. Instead, use screen time as a reward when homework is done at night.
Get more advice on how to limit the morning madness.
Katie Bugbee has written for Babble, Huffington Post, Newsday and Parenting. A busy working mother, she offers families advice on many parenting dilemmas, from appeasing picky eaters to finding the perfect babysitter.