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Our Morning Routine

Getting out the door in the morning with two pre-schoolers can be a struggle for our family. More often than we’d like, Matt and I roll out of bed and begin the mad dash to get ready the second we hear our kids stirring upstairs. And the chaos begins. Together, Matt and I tag team the check list (while taking turns getting ourselves ready): Negotiate weather appropriate clothing. Hair and teeth brushed. Locate shoes for each kid (seriously, how do these get lost every dang day?) and ask them 14 times to put them on. Backpacks packed. Double check backpack inventory to avoid running back home for Elmo. Serve semi-healthy breakfast…and then clean it up after it’s inevitably spilled on the floor. Where are Tom’s glasses? Plead with kids to hurry up and get in the car. Now we’re late. And I’m frazzled. And yelling.

And then the worst part – the wave of guilt post drop-off after a stressful morning. I feel horrible about how I set the tone for the day for our entire family.

Not every day is like that though. On the days that we exercise our routine everyone is happier. Having a good routine streamlines our morning and makes all the difference in starting our day off on the right foot. And it helps me be a better wife and mom.

So today I’m sharing 5 tips that help our morning routine run smoother. I know these tips may not be for everyone, but these are what we’ve found work best for our family. And if you have any tips, please share them in the comments!

1. Prepare as much as possible the night before.

As part of our bedtime routine we have the kids pick out their outfits for the next day. After the kids go to bed I empty out their backpacks (so I can toss artwork in the trash without getting caught) and repack them. I also complete and pack any forms, paperwork, checks, etc. they need for pre-school. Then, in the same spot every day I set aside everything that needs to go out the door in the morning — backpacks, shoes (& socks), all my bags and snacks for work, keys, sticky notes with reminders, etc.

Prepare the coffee! Hearing the coffee pot timer go off a few minutes before my alarm helps me get out of bed in the morning. It’s like a little reward I have to look forward to.

Straighten the house. Matt and I can’t go to bed unless the kitchen is clean and the house is picked up. This is not a deep clean. We take just a few minutes to do a quick toy pick-up, flip or fold a load of laundry and I always sweep the kitchen floor up from dinner crumbs. We both really love waking up to a clean house.

2. Set a bedtime alarm and wake up before the kids.

This is the one we struggle with the most but is the most impactful when we execute it. I need 8 hours of sleep each night but can easily be convinced to watch just one more episode of whatever we’re currently binge watching on Netflix.  So I set a bedtime alarm which is automatically calculated based off of the hours of sleep you need and the time you want to wake up. I love this iPhone feature (under the clock app) and as soon as I hear the bedtime ding we turn the TV off.

As for waking up before the kids, this is truly the best way for me to get a head start on my day. And if I can squeeze in a few moments of quiet time, get dressed, makeup and hair done and have a cup of coffee in me before they come bouncing down the stairs I find I am much more patient throughout the morning. On the weekends I get up two hours earlier to blog and it’s some of my happiest and most productive time.

*Side tip: In my attempt to get Thomas to sleep in his bed throughout the night again I read an awesome tip for kids, but I think it’s also equally applicable for adults. Try not to let your bedtime or wake up time fluctuate more than an hour on the weekends. By staying up too late or sleeping in too long it throws your body off track for the work week.  

3. Make the bed.

This is a habit of Matt’s that he has in turn taught our kids. It’s a quick and simple task to do that jump starts your day with a sense of accomplishment and sets a productive tone. It’s also a habit that can lead to other good habits. And at the end of a long day, it’s always nice to come home to a bed that’s made. Thanks, Matt!

*Side note: One of Matt’s favorite books that he keeps on his bedside table is “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe The World,” written by Navy SEAL commander Admiral William McRaven. He explains how making your bed every morning can have a profound impact on your well-being and behavior throughout the rest of the day.

4. Create a morning routine for the kids.

On our best mornings, Thomas and Caroline know not to get out of their beds until their alarm clock goes off. Once they’ve gotten the green light they are supposed to make their beds, go potty, brush their teeth and get dressed before they come downstairs for breakfast. They know the drill. And on the days they follow the routine it is magic and eliminates a lot of scrambling in the morning. (While we work on getting Thomas to go back to sleeping through the night in his bed right now, we still make him follow the morning routine by sending him upstairs to his room as soon as he wakes up!)

5. Run through schedules. 

Every morning Matt and I run through what’s on our calendars for the day while we get ready together in the bathroom. Not only is it nice to know what each other is up to that day and determine who will pick up the kids from daycare, sometimes we’re surprised to see we are both available to grab breakfast or lunch that day. Most days we are too busy to chat outside of a text here and there, so when we can squeeze in a meal together it’s a real treat!

North Carolina lifestyle blogger, Christina shares a look at their Morning Routine! Getting out the door can be a struggle, here are some tips!

PS — I know I’m going to get a bunch of questions asking “when/how do we exercise”? This is one of the most popular questions I receive every time I write a post like this. Honestly, this depends on the week. I try to get to kickboxing 3x a week. Some weeks I don’t go at all. When I do exercise, I prefer to sleep in and hit the gym after work. However that is not always feasible so some days I go to the gym at 6 am and Matt gets the kids ready while I shower and get dressed for work. Then he leaves for the gym when I get home and I take the kids to daycare. He showers at the gym and walks one flight of stairs down to his office afterwards. We know we should be making this a higher priority because it helps us feel so much better and we tend to eat healthier when we’re exercising, but we’re working on this!

Your turn! Please share your morning tips and routine. 

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Sunday 20th of January 2019

Im a mom to a just-turned-5 preschooler, a 2.5 year old, and a 4 month old. My husband leaves for work at 5:45am so I’m on my own in the mornings. I’m still getting up in the middle of the night to pump for my baby (I have lowish supply so I have to do this to keep my supply up), so getting up much earlier than the kids is so hard, but since I am on my own, if I don’t then mornings are train wrecks. I need to be up at least 1.5 hours before the bigger kids so I have time to nurse the baby and get myself showered and dressed. I would love to workout in the mornings but it’s too hard right now - when I stop pumping at night I probably will.

I never go to bed without doing everything possible to make the mornings faster. I even pour their morning milks in cups with lids the night before. Saving even seconds here or there gives me less to remember and do and just makes it less tense in the morning so I’m not yelling about being late so much.

My 5 year old hates getting up in the mornings and moves so slowly that I end up dressing her most mornings just to keep things moving. I need to figure out a way to motivate her to be more independent and efficient.

I brush and do their hair while they’re eating breakfast. That might be kind of unsanitary to do hair in the kitchen near food but it saves soooo much time.

And I always start the coats/shoes process 10 minutes before I think I should because it often takes longer than I think it should to get out the door. (We have a slightly different schedule everyday.) About half the time we are early but that’s okay!


Thursday 17th of January 2019

I drop my 18 month old at daycare at 6:30 am. I’m a nurse so I have to be at work by 6:45. I workout most days I work so that has me getting up at 4:15-4:30. I do it in the basement so I don’t have to go anywhere. We get her up at 5:50/6 and are out the door by 6:15. I just have to make my coffee (!!!!!), lunch and have her a little snack for the road. I do a lot of food prep on my off days. I think back to my days of nursing and wonder how the heck I did it with pumping etc; my daughter is Caroline by the way. Longtime reader, first time poster! Despite not getting home till after 8 on work days I’m thankful for my off days! I also do a timed 15 minute pick up at night after she goes to bed. She sleeps from 6:30/7-till we wake her up so I have no excuse. I’m also a major meal planner. So helpful even before we had a baby.


Thursday 17th of January 2019

With a 4 year old and a baby, my mornings only function on routine. My kiddos are in bed by 7PM, so that gives me a solid hour to get everything done before I head to bed myself. Night prep saves my sanity! Thankfully their school provides meals so I'm not making their lunches, only packing breastmilk. I agree with Ashley - we use Alexa to set timers through out the morning to keep the preschooler (and lets be honest - myself) on track. He knows that if he's not done before the timer goes off, he doesn't get to start the Roomba before he leaves for school. Pushing that button is the highlight of his day! One big thing we started a few years ago is picking up the house before reading stories and going to bed. Our 4 year old picks up all of his toys and his room before bed each night. Going to sleep with a clean house is the B.E.S.T feeling.

Ashley Thayer

Wednesday 16th of January 2019

After 2.5 years of constantly reminding my girls it’s time to get shoes on, it finally dawned on me to just set an alarm on the Alexa so I don’t have to do it every morning. I have a 7 and 5 year old. I just set it today for the first time. We’ll see if it actually helps me. Haha. Mornings are rough and I swear 30mins feels like 10min. Now if I could just get them to pack their own lunch I’d be made in the shade. :)


Wednesday 16th of January 2019

I’ve started using alarms on my phone and Alexa for getting ready reminders because I was tired of yelling as well. It seems to be working out well so far. I’m yelling less, anyway.


Wednesday 16th of January 2019

These are all great tips! I have a toddler and a newborn right now, and my tip, at least with a baby, is to build in some personal quiet time LATER in the day, because you just can't expect to get it in the morning. I make sure that the first hour of my workday has no meetings or obligations so that I can spend that time at my desk drinking coffee and reading blogs or whatever, without taking attention away from my kids or being late.


Wednesday 16th of January 2019

i love this!!!!!!