Now that we’re one month into school and beginning to get our regular routine down, I want to share some changes that I’ve made to make our mornings run smoother. You know, major changes that give me more free time to re-microwave my coffee six times before walking out the door and forgetting it all together.

Yeah. I’ll be honest and say, we have in no way mastered our mornings yet. This is not a well-oiled machine. But we’re ticking along and I’m only screaming for about 50% of the time and so far, every day, we’ve gotten to school on time, so. I must be doing something right.

8 Changes I’ve Made to to Our Mornings to Get to School on Time:

1) Mike and I try to wake up early so we can get ready before the kids are awake

Gone are our 5am human alarm clocks (which seemed horrible at the time) and instead, we find ourselves in the odd position of dragging our kids out of bed at 7am. I know you parents with younger children don’t want to hear this, but this is actually worse!!!! I will take 5am snuggles over boot camp style sheet pulling any day of the week. “But I don’t want to go to school….” they cry. Oh man, are we at this age already??? Since the kids are so difficult in the morning, Mike and I work best when we are both ready ourselves before they get up. This doesn’t always happen, but this is the goal. This way we can fully focus our energy on convincing our kids that yes, you do have to get up and out of bed. You also have to tell us what you want for breakfast. And sit still while I brush your hair!

2) I have the kids pick out their outfits the night before.

I don’t know when getting dressed got so complicated but all of sudden, both Mazzy and Harlow are ridiculously particular about what they wear. They have both determined that about 95% of the clothing in their drawers is not their style. “What is your style then?” I ask. They can’t tell me. They’ll know it when they see it, which is definitely not in their closet. Especially now since it’s getting colder and shorts and sandals are off limits. I think Mazzy wore the same tank top and shorts for at least 15 of the last 18 days of school. I actually decided to do laundry less often so it wasn’t always an option. I find that it’s much easier to convince them to wear something they don’t really want to wear in the evening than it is in the morning when they are tired and cranky. Plus, I’ve found that once they pick their clothes out at night, the battle has been won and they have yet to fight me over it again in the morning. I make them pick out their shoes, socks and all their accessories too. Harlow can take at least an additional fifteen minutes to pick out a necklace, a flower clip, a purse, what goes into the purse, etc. We simply do not have that kind of time.

3) We banned iPads in the morning.

This is a new one for us. We used to only allow iPads in the morning because it was the one time of day where there was a definitive cut off when we needed to leave the house. We thought it was a foolproof way to limit screen time. But this was also because Mazzy and Harlow woke up at ungodly hours and we needed to give them something to do so we could grab a few extra zzzzzs. Now that we are waking them up at 7am, there is no time to waste. They really need to focus and get ready. This was incredibly big change for them that was met with a lot of resistance, so, Mike and I agreed to a compromise…

4) We allow TV with some conditions.

We need to be out the door at 8am, so we’ve made a deal that if they are ready and eating breakfast by 7:20am, we can turn on the television and watch one show. This also helps to get them out of bed since they know they’ve only got 20 minutes before the window for television closes. Why television over the iPads? Because TV shows are a set time and everybody watches and stops watching together. It’s much easier to shut a show off when it ends at 7:45am and tell them “It’s time to brush your teeth!!!!” as opposed to them each being in the middle of two separate YouTube videos, one with three minutes running time left and the other with an hour and 45 minutes left.

5) I hung their schedules on the back of the front door.

Now that Mazzy can read, she can be a lot more responsible for her schedule. She can look and see when she has gym class and needs to wear sneakers and when she’s got after school activities that require additional books or gear. She knows to make sure her homework is packed and her recorder sheet is signed by a parent. She can help Harlow decipher her schedule too. And, as someone who was never good at keeping after school activities straight, having a schedule as the last thing I see before I walk out the door is extremely helpful for me too. “Oh! You have hip-hop today, Harlow!” “I KNOW, MOM…*Eye roll*” Mornings are such a lovely time.

6) I put my kids in the same school.

I highly recommend you try this one! Now, it might be impossible if one kid is in preschool and the other kid is in college, but I can’t stress enough how much this change has simplified our routine. We should have put Harlow in kindergarten years ago! Mazzy and Harlow finally going to the same school means Mike and I can take turns dropping them off while the other person can go to the gym, go out for breakfast, read a book or who am I kidding? None of that happens because the parent not going to school is the one taking on more of responsibility to get the kids ready when everyone is finally out the door, he or she is left standing in the middle of the kitchen, wearing a disheveled bath robe with hair sticking out in every direction (is that syrup????) like a tornado just blew through the apartment. The only thing you have time to do is get yourself together, clean up all the breakfast plates so you don’t get rodents and go to work.

7) Harlow stopped using her stroller.

Harlow LOVES her stroller. We still haven’t been able to get rid of it entirely (she’s got tiny legs and we walk a lot in the city), but we have successfully banned it from our school commute. We walk to the bus every morning, which is not far, and I can’t tell you happy it makes me to get on board without having to fold that thing up, drag it up the steps and find a way to slip it around all the passengers and under the seats. Then riding the bus the whole time scared I am going to forget about it and it leave it on the bus. Plus, you know what’s impossible while pushing a stroller? Carrying a cup of coffee. Or an umbrella. It’s awesome to have my hands free and two kids responsible for their own stuff.

8) We keep Mazzy’s goodbyes short and sweet.

You know what’s a big time saver? The fact that as soon as the bus lets us off at our stop, Mazzy sees a friend and is off and running toward school without me. We have about two blocks from the bus stop before we actually get to school (around a corner with no streets to cross) and most times, I am about twenty paces behind Mazzy, trying to get Harlow to keep up so I can be with both of them for as long as possible. Sometimes when we get to the school, Mazzy waits for us to catch up, but most of the time she just runs up to class on her own. Then Harlow usually wants to visit her classroom so she can give her one last hug before going to her own class. I use Harlow as an excuse to get my last hug too.

Independence is definitely a time saver, but I’d take a longer hug any day of the week.

What changes have you made in your morning routine that make things run smoother?