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Morning Routine With School Age and Preschool Kids

Hey y'all, it's Babywise day again and I am so excited to have Shea guest posting here today. You can find me over at Katrina's blog: Mama's Organized Chaos with tips for managing a toddler at theme parks!

Today, Shea is sharing straight up WISDOM about how she handles the "marathon hour" in the morning with four kids.

There are two times each day that I call "marathon hour". The marathon hour begins our day, and it ends our day. The morning marathon includes all the hustle and bustle it takes to get out of the door and onto our desired destination. Then, we close out our day with another marathon that takes us from dinner prep and eating to bathing and into pajamas in the evening. Managing my time with 4 kids during both of these times of the day has become key to how successful I consider our day to have gone. Today, I am going to talk about how I manage our morning routine with as little drama as possible.

Since I now have school aged children, our mornings have become a bit earlier, and lot busier. Over the last two years (this is only my 3rd school year to have a child in school. Now I have two of them that I send to school 5 days a week and my younger 2 are home with me except for when they attend pre-school everyMonday and Wednesday) I have to do a lot of trial and error to know what seems to work smoothest for our family. Now, I think we have found an ebb flow for our mornings that works quite well. 

Start the night before
I have found that prepping as much as I can in the evening after the kids go to bed makes the morning time so much more efficient. 

So the night before, I have a plan for breakfast we will be having. This is honestly usually just oatmeal, yogurt and fruit, or a breakfast casserole that I make ahead of time that will last several mornings. I sometimes will also make muffins ahead of time as well. Just knowing exactly what we will be having so that it can be quickly prepared in the morning really saves on time. In my mind, breakfast can go 1 of 2 ways. 1. Its quick to throw in a bowl and eat, or 2. It can be made ahead of time and re-warmed for several days worth of breakfast meals. Only on holidays or Saturdays do we have enough time to afford me actually cooking something like scrambled eggs and bacon or pancakes, etc. 

Our school does not require uniforms, so picking out clothes each night before is a must in our home. I try to always have a weeks worth of clean clothes in their dressers and closets (ok this doesn't happen all of the time, but I do my best) and we pick out what they will wear the night before. We take into consideration obviously the weather, if they have PE that day at school, what activities they might be doing that particular day, etc. We lay their clothes out, and everyone knows what they will wear.

-lunches and backpacks
Lunches and backpacks are ready to be grabbed as we walk out the door. We make sure everything is in place the night before. This way, we grab and go knowing that we are not forgetting anything in the rush of the morning. Folders that need parent signatures for the day are signed and in place, library books have been put in backpacks, all homework is completed and inside the folder to be turned in. Our backpacks have a "home" in our 2nd living area that is right off the garage. The girls know to grab them as we walk out of the house into the garage to load up and leave. 

I pack lunches the night before as well. Since I do this, I keep it simple. Nothing super fancy for lunch. A sandwhich, some cheese, raisins, carrots, applesauce, pretzels, yogurt, grapes. Easy stuff. It is stuff that is easy to throw together in the evening, stick back in the fridge until morning, and foods that they like. I am not trying to win awards for best packed school lunches, and I am just fine with that! On Sunday and Tuesday nights I pack all 4 lunches. The rest of the week, its only necessary to pack 2.

The Pre-schoolers and our morning routine
The 4 year old and the 2 year old obviously do not have to be at school, so they dont necessarily need to be ready for the day by the time my school aged girls need to be ready. My thought, though, is if the house is awake and some people need to be fed and dressed at a certain time, why don't we all just do all of this together. So I do go ahead and have everything laid out for the littles as well. They come and eat breakfast with their big sisters. Then they brush their teeth and get dressed and when the big sisters do as well. I have them all line up and have their hair done and then we are all ready to begin the day. I decided this when my oldest began kindergarten, after some trial and error. I didn't get my youngers ready for the day before I took my oldest to school, and I realized I was grumpy mid morning because I was STILLLLLLL getting people ready for the day and it felt like that process was prolonged. So I changed that up, woke everyone up 15 minutes earlier so that I had time to get everyone in clothes and hair done before we left. Then, when we were done with drop off, I was also done getting people dressed. It made my mood better, it made my morning marathon a bit shorter, and made me feel more prepared for the day all together. 

Mom in the morning
I make it my goal to at least be up and dressed (maybe not showered, dressed somedays is literally my gym clothes and hat) with my teeth brushed before I begin getting my girls up and around. If I am taken care of and can be appropriate to walk out the door before they even get out of bed then I can use all the time that they are awake and getting ready to help them do so. I don't have to worry about myself this way. I will admit, I fail at this sometimes, but when I succeed - it does make a difference in how much time we have from start to finish in the morning. I feel like I should note that my favorite time of day to spend in the Word is in the morning. I just know that during this particular season of my life, that won't always happen. I count it a win when it does, but I also allow myself to search God out in other parts of my day as well. Nap time for my littles has been good for this, but like I said, my favorite time to meet with God is in the early part of the day. So when I can make that happen, I do.

My girls have to be at school at 7:50, so we begin our morning between 6:30-6:40. When bags are packed and lunches are made, clothes are laid out, and a plan for breakfast is in place - this is truly all the time we need. We use every minute of it, but its all we need. We leave our house at 7:40 (We live less than a half mile from the girls school, so we don't have to account for much commute time at all, thankfully)

For me, smooth mornings start the evening before. If you can spend 30 minutes prepping for the next day, you will save yourself a lot of time and possibly a lot of morning chaos! I recruit my husband to help me and keep me company while we do just a few things to make the start of the next day a good one. It makes all the difference, becauase when the day starts off well and you feel in control, things seem to fall into place!

Shea is a mom of 4 daughters and blogs at www.themoseshome.blogspot.com 

Be sure and check out all of the blogs in the Babywise Friendly Blog Network!

Kimberly - Team Cartwright
Natasha - Let's Be Brave

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