Late for drop off yet again, the school morning routine has you breaking a sweat by sunrise. It’s time to seize the day. Escape embarrassing on-time reminders and avoid group circle interruptions. Get the kids up and at it without argument, have items you need at the ready and get out of the house on time with these five tips for winning the wake up.

1. Prepare to Be Prompt

Experiencing a screaming, fighting, school clothes tug-of-war on the daily? Before negotiations even begin, enlist their help choosing outfits ahead of time. Be open to options and settle in on selections before they go down for bed. When included and asked for input, my sasstress of sorts shows confidence in her clothing choices and is proud to have a say in her school st‌yle. Giving her the power to choose helps me get her ready to dress. If she’s picked a crazy combo, I’ve got leniency—it’s no biggie. Her teachers understand her desire to stand out and they embrace her fashion sense.

Unless you really enjoy an early wake up, hold the hot breakfast for weekends and school days with snow delays. Simplify the scramble for place settings, by getting cups, spoons and cereal bowls out and on the table the evening before. My kids are pretty predictable. Yogurt and water for one, cereal with a side of milk for the other. I place what they need to fill up fast on the counter top, with other essentials easily accessible in the fridge.

Get set before sundown by preparing lunches and packing backpacks with next day necessities. If you’re feeling ultra orderly you could even prep snack bags for the week. Have granola and dried fruit handy for a quick bite from the pantry, or their favorite sliced veggies and cheese cubes, placed in grab-and-go containers in the fridge.

An improved evening routine will eliminate time wasted looking for things last minute. I have a tendency to dash up and down stairs, trotting through rooms and walking in circles, in search of what I need to get out of the house. With coats, shoes, keys, purse, backpacks, glasses and phones placed in plain sight, we can grab what we need near the door and make an efficient exit to get on with our day.

2. Get It Together

With kids, there’s no such thing as me time in the morning. Its called “make it work.” An early bird will always be on time, so skip the snooze, rise and shine. Wake up 10 minutes earlier than you’re used to, mix up a fruit smoothie, make a protein shake or brew a hot beverage. Have some sips until you’re satisfied, then go on and get it together. By no means am I ever runway ready for drop off, but with an extra 10 minutes I can put on a face, pull on some jeans and flat iron my hair, eliminating the Founding Father updo and sweat pants st‌yle I’ve grown accustomed to.

3. Set a Soundtrack

Revive the morning routine with music to get everyone moving. After you’re put together, start the playlist or voice command your favorite wake up radio. The kids may just wander right out of bed to see what you’re up to. Let them dance their way into their pants and groove into some breakfast bites.

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4. Nail Down Negotiations

I’ve been there—exhausted and emotional, negotiating outfits, breakfast options, combing knots out of hair, brushing teeth and getting into outerwear. The struggle is real. Before tough morning tempers flair into tantrums, divert the diminutives, by referring to a wake up routine chart. Created together with input from each of us, our wake up routine chart is drawn in crayon with infographics listing the Do’s and Dont’s of our morning. In case of emergency I will refer to the chart, and remind my Pre-K’s they helped set the ground rules. It’s proven pretty effective.

5. Time Check with a Test Run

Make promptness a priority by identifying obstacles and streamlining a schedule. Time the tasks of a typical morning by referencing the clock, make eye contact with the kids and remind them of minutes remaining to get moving. I give my morning time munchers an hour from wake up to get it together, catch a cartoon, eat breakfast, brush teeth and get out the door. Test them by voice commanding the timer for two minutes of teeth brushing, or set an alarm to end screen time. Once you’ve had success, celebrate. Tell them you’re proud, give high fives all around and offer a special “getting ready reward” for them to enjoy after school.

It’s no shocker staying on track with kids can be hard. I guarantee setbacks—from a spill, a missing shoe, a bathroom emergency or a struggle into car seats. Don’t stress: I’ve been there, tackling one morning at a time. Follow these tips to be punctual and you’ll accomplish becoming a more productive morning parent. I’ve managed to get my munchkins going. Now… if I could just master all that is #momlife.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Bridget Shanahan
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