Countdown to School: A Timeline for Getting Ready for the Big Day

Stop Morning Madness

We don't have to describe the frenzy that surrounds the start to your weekdays: the mad scramble to get breakfast on the table, pry the kids away from Blue's Clues, find a stray shoe-you name it. Want to stop the chaos? The key is to stay focused-and organized, says Julie Morgenstern, author of Organizing From the Inside Out.

Be the first one up. "How can you expect your children to be organized in the morning if you aren't?" says Morgenstern. Set your alarm to go off before your child's, and shower and drink your coffee before she wakes up.

Begin with a grin. It sounds corny, but kids are influenced by a positive attitude. So start your a.m. by reassuring your little one that you love him and by providing an exciting preview of the day's upcoming events.

Schedule in some extra time. Instead of hoping that your 5-year-old won't insist on picking out a different outfit or refuse to brush her teeth, assume that she will, and build extra time into your day. Nicole Faghin, a mother of two in Edmonds, Washington, figured out how long it takes to get her girls fed and dressed-then added an extra 15 minutes on top of that.

Limit distractions. Tell him he can't watch any morning TV or play with his toys until he's eaten breakfast, dressed, and brushed his teeth.

Rely on a routine. Having kids get ready in a particular order-wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth-is a great idea. "When children do things in the same order every day, they develop a sense of how much time they can spend on each task," says Kimberley Shanahan, a mom from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

Reward your child with your undivided attention. When she gets ready a few minutes early, treat her to some precious mommy time by coloring together, playing a card game, or reading a story. You'll both benefit from a little bonding and a cuddle before the day starts full force. -Hillary Quinn

Also, try our free Happy Morning Calendar to help your little one start the day off right!

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