Mornings can be stressful.  Searching for lost items, forgetting what needs to be done and losing track of time can all contribute to a crazy dash to school. But we’ve rounded up some top parenting hacks for getting your kids out the door on time with less stress.

Set a Drop-Off/Pick-Up Station

Create a space where the kids can store backpacks and other items so that they always know where to look for their stuff. This avoids sleepy scavenger hunts in the morning when time is short. Pro tip: Alert the kids to check that station for everything needed when going somewhere: birthday party gifts, permission waivers, etc.

Pack Up Before Bed

Make packing up for the next day part of the before bedtime routine. Don’t let the kids wait to slip homework and books into their backpacks. They may be misplaced by morning!

Make Ahead Lunches

Making lunch in the morning can slow things wayyy down. If your kids eat sandwiches, make a week’s worth and toss them in the freezer on Sunday. Pre-slice veggies or fruits, or that night’s dinner leftovers, and pack them in serving-sized containers. Then, grab and go on weekdays. If they buy lunch, have the money in its designated spot before morning. Help yourself to these lunch tips, too!

Sleep in Clothes

If your kids bathe or shower at night, they’re clean for the next day. Put them to bed in their school clothes (as long as they’re comfy) and save loads of time in the a.m. Pajamas can be weekends only, when they can sleep in. Moms who do this say it’s a lifesaver! But if it seems too strange, set out complete outfits the night before in a hanging organizer or bin so your kid knows where to find them.

Schedule the A.M.

Once the alarm goes off, or you gently wake your kids, they should know what they’re expected to do each day. Pick a fun Pinterest chart or schedule to show the tasks they need to accomplish to get out the door on time.

Create a Getting Ready Playlist

If your kids aren’t much for schedules or picture guides, try an audio timeline. Get them to pick songs that put them in a good mood and use them as cues for what they should be doing. For example, by the time the song, “Happy” is over, they should be done with breakfast.

Make Breakfast Easy

Save those homemade waffles and pancakes for the weekend. Start the day with foods that don’t take too much time to prepare or to eat, like fruit and yogurt or whole grain muffins. You might consider a standard rotating breakfast menu so there’s no time spent discussing choices each morning. Check out our list of quick and easy breakfasts for families.

Shoes: Meet Your Match

Most parents say that finding shoes at go time is half the battle. Don’t leave the pairs to chance. Use a simple bin, shoe shelf or fun storage solution like a shoe wheel  (we like this one) to keep kids’ shoes together and in one place.

Continue in the Car

Because transitions can be hard, especially for younger kids, allow them a to-go option if they’re otherwise ready. Offer to bring along the rest of breakfast, a portable toy or continue playing that YouTube story when you’re on your way.

Reward Readiness

When your child gets ready on time to leave without tons of reminders, offer a reward that has value to him. That could be getting to feed the family pet, choosing the radio station in the car, or getting to read an extra long story at bedtime that night.

Travel with Essentials

You probably have some emergency items in your car already, like a change of clothes for a toddler or bottled water. Take it a step further and have on-the-go necessities for days when your kids didn’t get to it all. Think of items like hairbrush and hair ties, face wipes, extra pencils, spare lunch money and nutrition bars or drinks.

Keep it Consistent

When you find a routine that works for your family, keep it going! Consistency is key to having your kids know what they have to do and by when. And that includes bedtime; we’re all better able to take on the day with enough sleep the night before.

Read more organizational tips to keep the school year running smoothly.

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