The only way to manage the chaos is to be organized. I'm good at planning and I'm fairly good at execution-- with the assistance of my little friends, caffeine and chocolate.
Five tips for an organized before-school morning
1) Clean up the night before. (I do this 20% of the time. Goals, people.) If you're anything like me, you're physically exhausted by the end of the day. I'm moving most of the day, cleaning, picking up toys, going up and down the stairs half a million times. By the time the kids are all cozy in their beds, I am DONE.
But I'm trying to be better about picking up before we go to bed. Load the dishwasher, clear the sink, wipe the counters. I try to think of it as minimizing chaos for myself in the morning by setting the stage for breakfast and final school preparations.
2) Use a planner or some other calendar (like the one on your phone or Google Calendar) and record every school date as soon as you get notice of it. (My Type A self is all over this one.) Then you can toss the original sheet and cut down on all of the paper that comes from school. Or if you're slightly OCD like me, you can keep it just in case you wrote down the wrong date or time, and store it in your home management binder.
3) Wake up early. (Really bad at this one, I'd rather stay up until 3 am than get up at 6.) I know it doesn't sound fun, especially if you're a night owl like I am, but it really does help. Yesterday morning, I was showered and dressed, had a little time to myself, and had everything ready before I woke up the kids. Such a game changer.
4) Plan meals and lunches ahead of time. (I don't like to stress about food so I do this nearly 100% of the time.) I always pack snacks and lunches the night before and just toss the bag in the fridge. The real trick is to remember to put it in the backpack before you leave.
As I'm eating breakfast each morning, I figure out what we're having for dinner and check to make sure I have the ingredients. I start thawing meat or other items in the fridge as necessary. Adding that to my morning routine definitely reduces stress at 4 pm when everyone is starting to get hungry. I used to plan meals out monthly, but that got to be too much for me. This method works better for our family.
5) Lay out clothes for the week. (100% for this week! Bonus points for me!) If this is too much for you, do it at least every night for the next day. No more "where are my pants? I can't find any clean socks!" at 7:30 am. I can check the weather on my phone and then select outfits based on the forecast. Anyone remember when you actually had to dial a phone number, most likely on a rotary phone, to hear the time and temperature? I'm dating myself...
I have enjoyed not stressing about clothes for my little lady this week, so I made a printable for you too. You can print and laminate or just glue/tape to cardboard and then slip it over the hanger. So easy and all of my daughter's clothes are ready to go each morning. Next week's plan: let her choose them. I see lots of mixing of prints and clashing colors in the future, like only a 5 year old can do.
How do you organize to minimize school day stress?