Good Nighttime Habits Help Eliminate Morningtime Chaos

Last week we discussed some strategies to handle the after school rush around dinnertime. With all the activities kids are involved in, it’s hard to get home and sit down to a big dinner every night.  Depending on the situation, we may be snacking in the car, eating on the road, or trying to fix a quick meal when we get home.

We want to plan for all these scenarios so the results are frugal, nutritious, and easy. You can take a look at the ideas we discussed in last week’s post by clicking right here:
After School Rush – Plan Those Meals On The Road

Dishwasher LoadedNow we’re going to talk about how to plan ahead so the mornings aren’t quite as chaotic.

Over the years we’ve developed a system that helps us get going and ready in the morning in an orderly fashion. We’ve tweaked this schedule and come up with new ideas as our household grows and changes.  Most of what we’ve found is it’s all about getting into good habits… especially planning ahead and getting things done early!

Read through these simple ideas and see if there is something you can adopt for your school year routine.

The Night Before

I used to be in the habit of leaving the kitchen a mess at night. I thought, like many people, that I’d just clean it up in the morning because it really didn’t matter that much.

Then I realized that a lot of the chaos in the morning was a reflection of the mess in the kitchen. Partly mental chaos just looking at the mess, and partly physical chaos of having to work around dirty dishes, this was one bad habit that had to go.

I have since made it a habit to do all the dishes and straighten up after dinner. It’s still the last thing I want to do after eating, but I am quickly reminded every morning that it was time well spent.

While we’re cleaning up the kitchen, we also focus on food-related items for the next day. We know we need our coffee in the morning, so the coffee pot is filled and ready for us to hit the ‘brew’ button as soon as one of us gets up. Our favorite coffee mugs sit right alongside.

This is the time, also, to get breakfast dishes set out, prepare fruit, and generally get your breakfast-bar set up. You should also be preparing or organizing lunches and snacks for the next day. It helps for us to use one counter in the kitchen for breakfast stuff and one for lunch stuff. Bowls, cups, lunch boxes… whatever you need, get it ready. It helps to have a spot in the refrigerator, too, for items to grab for breakfast or the lunch box. Do this all at night so sleepy heads can easily sit down to their breakfast without thinking too hard.

Lay out clothes for everyone who needs to leave the house. From top to bottom, make sure everything is ready and waiting so there’s no excuse for being late. There won’t be any hectic hollers of “Where are my shoes!?” when the shoes are ready by the door the night before.

Take another look at the school bag or back pack before you turn in for the night. Pull out all the papers and check again for permission slips, homework, or other details you may have missed during homework time.

Put everything you need to take with you by the door. Things like your purse, car keys, glasses, briefcase, and school bags, should be ready and waiting at a ‘command central’ right by the door as you leave.

Of course, everything can’t be at the ‘command central’ overnight. There are things like lunches, for instance, that need to be grabbed out of the refrigerator. It helps to have a little chalk board or white board by the door to jot down reminders. Mine always says; “grab coffee for the road.”

In The Morning

I’m usually the first one up. I wander into the kitchen and push the ‘Brew’ button on the coffee maker. That is the moment I am reminded how happy I am that I got into the habit of cleaning the kitchen and preparing the coffee the night before.

While the coffee brews, I wander into Daughter’s bedroom and turn on the light. This gets her going. I can now head back into the kitchen, pour my coffee, get out the milk and juice, and get breakfast on the table. Again, it’s a lot easier when most everything is out on the counter or ready to grab in the refrigerator.  And the fact that I don’t have to work around last night’s dirty dishes is a real nice way to start the day!

Now that Daughter is older, as soon as she strolls into the kitchen and sits down to her breakfast, I can head to the shower. I usually meet my Hubby coming down the hallway, drawn into the kitchen by the smell of the coffee. Hubby sits down with Daughter and they eat and talk about what’s on the agenda for the day.

I’m showered and dressed in time to join Daughter and Hubby at the breakfast table and we enjoy a few minutes together. Now, it’s their turn to get cleaned up and dressed. I’ll quickly pick up a bit in the kitchen while Hubby helps Daughter with her hair.

When everyone seems to be dressed and together, we gather up Daughter’s snack and lunch, pack her lunch bag, and head for the door. We do a double check on our white board at ‘command central’ and grab anything we might have forgotten (things like an art project drying on the work table are typical.)

Everything’s ready to either walk Daughter to the bus or drive her to school, depending on the day. We’re out the door on time.

This was not the typical scenario before we started getting our routine planned, especially the nighttime prep work. Getting into the habit of doing everything you can possibly do the night before is a real time saver – I should say sanity saver – in the morning. Starting your day in chaos just sets the tone for the entire day and into the evening. Eliminate much of the before school rush by getting in the habit of preparing the night before and you will find yourself actually enjoying your mornings.

I Highly Recommend Back 2 School Survival Guide

Chock full of tips, ideas, and suggestions that help families get organized and prepared for back to school covering everything (and much more) from establishing routines, packing lunches, completing homework, and purchasing school supplies to dealing with bullies, volunteering in the classroom, maintaining multiple schedules, and teaching responsibility.

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  • Student Planner
  • Master Family Planner
  • Sample/Customizable Routines
  • School Information Sheet
  • Schedule Adjustment Worksheet
  • Countdown Maze
  • My Favorites Worksheet
  • Grocery Planner
  • Family Fun Worksheet
  • School Goals Worksheet
  • Classmate Contact Sheet
  • Important Dates At-A-Glance

It’s a great guide and ebook and I’m in love with the cute and helpful printables. Take a look at

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