In our house, getting out the door on time in the morning is an exercise in futility. Two adults, two kids under four and not one “morning person” in the bunch. It’s rare that everyone is awake more than 30 minutes before we have to walk out the door on any given day.
Then there is the getting dressed, the brushing teeth (this quickly becomes optional) and maybe hair, the breakfast thing, making sure bags and lunches are packed, putting shoes on (I know, I’m terrible for asking them to wear shoes) and then if you are lucky, walking out the door without forgetting anything.
IT’S A LOT!
Since I like to keep things simple, let’s try to make mornings simpler with these tricks and with as few tears as possible (adults included).
1. PACK LUNCHES THE NIGHT BEFORE
Start by putting all of the non-perishable items into the lunch bag the night before. Leave it on the counter and open. Gather the items that need to stay cold overnight and put them together in the fridge, ready to go. That way, in the morning, you are trying to assemble lunch, you are merely placing items into the bag.
2. PRE-MAKE ALL YOUR SANDWICHES FOR THE WEEK
Want another trick to make packing lunches even easier? Credit to Danielle Renov of Peas, Love and Carrots for this incredible hack for making sandwiches ahead of time. Make your favorite sandwiches, then freeze them in individual labeled zip-top bags. In the morning, pull one out of the freezer and plop it into the toaster or your sandwich maker, warm through, wrap it in foil and plop into a lunch bag. You can also just put them in their lunches frozen. They will defrost by lunchtime. Genuis, right?
3. USE THE WEEKEND TO PREP FOR THE WEEK
On Sunday, have the kiddo’s help portion out their snacks for the week. Then it’s just grab-and-go when it’s time to make lunches. This works for crunchy dry snacks, fruits, and veggies. Having your kids help with this can sometimes thwart even the worst case of the “Why’d you pack that?” or “I don’t wanna eat that.” When they have a hand in choosing, they are less likely to fight with you about it.
4. MAKE AHEAD BREAKFASTS
Again, get the family involved. Ask what they would like to have for breakfast in the upcoming week and prep and freeze these items. Want to go a step further? Label each breakfast item by the day and then when its crazy in the morning, everyone knows what is for who and then they can almost take care of themselves. Well, almost…maybe….kinda?
My favorite go-to for this are muffin recipes that freeze great. Some other ideas for make-ahead breakfasts include smoothies, overnight oats, and breakfast sandwiches. You can even pre-portion cereal into bags if that helps.
5. ENERGY BITES
Don’t know what to pack your kid to round out their lunch. Do they seem like they need a little pick me up first thing in the morning but aren’t quite ready for breakfast? Are you needing a little pick me up to deal with it all? Keep a batch (or two) of energy bites in your fridge on a shelf the kids can reach. Let them grab one as they need to. You know they are eating something good, they think they are pulling the wool over your eyes. Score one for the good guys!
6. LABEL, LABEL, LABEL
Label everything. I really mean it. Label everything and your mornings (and most other things you set out to tackle) will be easier. Here are a few of the things that I label to keep me sane:
- What day of the week each snack bag is for
- Type of sandwich in the freezer
- Type of smoothie in the freezer (although mostly I just tell ask them if they want red, orange or green)
I use stick-on labels for my kid’s clothes, sharpies for labeling zip-top bags and a label maker for stuff around the house. But, I want you to use whatever method works for you. The only thing that matters is that stuff is labeled!
7. UNPACK AND REPACK BACKPACKS WHEN THEY GET HOME, NOT IN THE MORNING
The worst thing ever is when you go to put lunch in a bag in the morning and there is still old lunch, scrunched art project and smashed notes from the teacher about the theme day for tomorrow rolling around in the bag.
Have your kids unpack their bag as soon as they walk in the door and take off their shoes. Have them put the dirty clothes in the laundry, the lunch box in the sink, art projects on the table, etc. Not only does this start teaching responsibility, but it’s also a huge help to you. Then, as soon as that bag is empty, go ahead and repack it for the next day (dry snacks, permission slips, water bottles, etc) and place it in its spot. Then in the morning, you just drop in lunch and off you go! Now, I don’t promise that any of this will help with the grumpy pants that stayed up too late or the toddler who refuses to eat anything (until they get in the car and are suddenly starving). But, I promise having things ready to go in the morning can set you up for a better day. You might even have time to enjoy your cup of coffee!