10 Solutions for Morning Madness

Find ways to cut down on the morning rush and get the kids off to school with ease.
mom handing son packed lunch

Have a productive p.m.

"Do as much as you can the night before," says Sissy Biggers, a time-management expert in Fairfield, Connecticut. Pack your child's lunch and her backpack, and have her pick out her clothes.

Forgo 15 minutes of sleep.

By waking up earlier than the rest of the family, you'll have a sliver of quiet time to soak in the bathtub or savor a cup of coffee. No doubt, you'll feel less rushed and better prepared to handle the day.

Let routines rule.

Have your child do the required activities -- such as brushing teeth and getting dressed -- in the same order every morning, so he knows what comes next. Help him create a morning to-do list so he can check off each job without being reminded.

Don't hesitate to delegate.

Avoid arguments over who does what by assigning your kids regular morning chores, such as feeding the pet or clearing the table.

Prepare for breakfast.

At night, lay out cereal boxes, bowls, and spoons on the table. Make enough pancake batter on Sunday evenings for several days.

Keep the TV off.

This may cause grumbling, but watching cartoons or videos definitely distracts from the tasks at hand, says Lawrence Cohen, Ph.D., a child psychologist and author of Playful Parenting.

Pick a pit stop.

Eliminate the mad dashes to find things by designating a special spot near the front door to put backpacks, sports equipment, and other school items.

Lighten up.

"If you're tense in the morning, your child will pick up on it," Dr. Cohen says. Instead of nagging her to get dressed, have a playful race to see who gets finished first.

Stick to a strict bedtime.

"If your child is hard to wake up and takes a long time to get ready in the morning, make his bedtime earlier," Dr. Cohen suggests.

Learn from your mistakes.

If you have a frustrating morning, think about why it was so stressful. "By examining what went wrong today, you can figure out how to do things better tomorrow," Biggers says.


Copyright © 2008 Meredith Corporation. Used with permission from the August 2003 issue of Parents magazine.

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