School Morning Harmony

We did it. Again. Everyone dressed and out the door with socks on and food to eat.

It’s like a mini celebration.

Like my lunch box journey, the smoothness of school mornings have improved greatly over the years. Most of that comes down to having good systems in place to ensure everyone is fed, dressed in the right clothes, has their lunch box and other items they need.  These are the six main things that work for us:

1. Wake up early enough 

If I could give just one tip for a calmer morning, it is this: get up earlier.  It hurts to even write it but it’s true. Our mornings are almost relaxed now, and while organisation a big piece of the puzzle, it’s this one thing that has has greatest impact on our mornings. Everyone needs time to wake up, warm up and get ready. Most mornings, I set my alarm for 5:30am and I start waking the kids up (if they are not already awake) from about 6:00am to be ready by 8.00am.

Update from term 2: Now that we have systems established, I don’t have to get up quite so early. I now get up from about 6:00am to 6:30am depending on how organised I am the night before and what I have on the next day.

2. Have a routine

My older children develop their own routine now. For the younger children, they appreciate a sequence guide to follow.  You can buy fancy charts but I just make one at home. I insert a table into Word, and then together, the kids and I go through clip art images to make up their own personalised routine chart to stick on the wall or fridge

Morning Routine Chart

In the past, I have also done up printables with morning / afternoon tasks the kids can tick off for the week.  (You can print these PDF files if it’s helpful – just click on the image for the printable PDF file). Another idea is this fab peg chore fridge system.

Morning_Tasks Chore Chart


afternoon_tasks Chore Chart

Tip: Laminate and then use a whiteboard marker to tick so the kids can rub it off and start again the next week.

3. Easy Breakfast

The bowls/plates and a variety of breakfast options are in an easy place for all to reach.  For the past few years, the kids just get up and make their own breakfast (which does works well). However, this year I’m focusing on different things for our family.  Last year put a lot of strain on family life with my husband working away a lot of the time (he wrote about the impact here), and I sense an urgent need to invest in connection.  So one of the things I’m doing this year is chatting to the kids in the mornings while making breakfast for everyone. But it’s still very simple and easy.

4. Use systems

I’ve developed different systems that help keep things organised for school, from where the shoes are kept to keeping the uniforms out of the bedrooms. The systems aren’t perfect, but it helps to keep the house running. You can read more about how I organise my kids for school here: Organising Kids for School.

5. 10 Minute Call

I tell the kids to start making their way to the car 5-10 minutes before we need to leave.  There are always last minute things to organise.

6. Have something to look forward to

I weave things I enjoy into the mornings too! Like coffee.  Or a nice breakfast (check out these heathy morning puddings).  I make the time for it.

School mornings don’t always go to plan. There are still missing socks and knotted hair, but I’ve learned to create the type of mornings I aim for by doing a little planning, facilitating the needs of the kids and giving myself something to look forward to.  It’s about that balance.

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  • Reply
    February 4, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Can I get a copy to print of the morning routine. My daughter goes to school EDCP one day/week and childcare some morning and need to work out a routine that works.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Couldn’t agree more with #1! It’s made an enormous difference in our mornings. I also minimise what needs to happen each morning preparing what I can the night before – ensuring everyone has their uniform in their closets, setting the breakfast table, and preparing lunches and snacks.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Hi Kelly, good article (again). The thing that helped our morning routine the most was requiring the kids to get dressed (uniform, shoes, hair) immediately when they wake up and before they have breakfast. I know it sounds like it could be messy, but the very occasional mess is well worth the easiness of the rest of the morning. After breakfast (which they do make themselves and eat while I make the lunches in the same room) they do teeth and sunscreen, feed the cats, and put their lunch in their bag. This means that even though we don’t get up until 6:30, they are totally ready by 7:15 and can play for the rest of the morning. Sometimes now they even make their own lunches (quiches from freezer, yoghurt, fruit, vege snacks) and often they get breakfast for their baby sister and put her in the high chair to eat it. My kids are only 8 and 6, but we have had this system for 3 years now and it has been brilliant. No yelling in the mornings pretty much ever. The kids now also record their fastest times to be ready for school and record them on the White board on the fridge. They love beating previous records!

  • Reply
    Renae Foottit
    February 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Kelly, are you guys in NZ yet? Sounds like you’re hang a great start to the year 😉

  • Reply
    Renae Foottit
    February 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Kelly, are you guys in NZ yet? Sounds like you’re having a great start to the year 😉

  • Reply
    February 4, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Love it Kelly!
    I totally agree with the getting up earlier task! Even an extra 20mins makes all the difference!

  • Reply
    February 5, 2015 at 6:21 am

    I only have to do 2 mornings a week! Awesome right! The other 3 I’m already at work & daddy is left in control.

    I do most everything the night before (even my daughters hair into braids etc). Lunches are packed, bags are packed, uniforms are out. I’ve learnt it’s sometimes better NOT to ask what daddy organises for breakfast, but this year I’m looking at making a lot more breakfast muffins as my daughter HATES cereal.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    I leave for work before the kids are up, so my husband handles the morning. They’ve got a great system that includes many of the tips you include here, such as an easy and consistent breakfast, giving them a heads up of when they’re about to leave and waking up early. I can’t imagine waking up the same time as the kids!

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