5 Evening Routines That Will Make Your Mornings Easier
Mornings can be stressful. Especially when you have to get kids out the door and to school on time. Our school starts early – we need to leave the house by 7:15 each morning. Anything we can do the night before to make our mornings run smoothly is a big help.
Every night, we use this list of 5 evening routines that will make your mornings easier, and it really does get the day off to a calmer start. The kids help out, so it’s not just mom and dad doing all of the work. Even very young children can lay out their clothes for the next day and help to tidy up in the evening. Depending on their age, kids can also help to pack their own school lunches.
Having a set evening and morning routine that your kids can learn is important because it helps to build independence. Instead of constantly telling kids what to do, they can learn the steps. You might have to remind your kids to do the next step on their list, but you shouldn’t have to tell them exactly what to do. In the beginning, having a written list or chart can help (with picture cues for non-readers). Once kids are old enough and have had enough practice you can ask them to run through their task list mentally.
We use the following routines, generally in this order, each evening. We’re not always perfect about getting to each item, but accomplishing this list before bedtime is the goal.
5 evening routines that will make your mornings easier:
1. Clean up the kitchen and start the dishwasher.
After dinner, it’s the kids’ job to clear their dishes from the table. Then, while they pick up their toys, Brad and I work on cleaning up the kitchen. Often, we’ll finish the dishes after they’re in bed (because early bedtime for the kids is important to us), but at least we get started on the job.
Running the dishwasher at night and then emptying it first thing in the morning makes my whole day go smoother. There’s nothing worse than a day’s worth of dishes piled up because the dishwasher was too full to load throughout the day.
2. Pack lunches and backpacks.
As soon as we come home from school each day, my kids know to empty their backpacks and lunchboxes so that they’re ready for the next day. Then, backpacks are placed by the door with folders, jackets, etc. inside so they’re ready for the morning. If homework is taken out, it’s put right back in when finished.
Having the kids help to pack their own lunches is something that we’re working on. Most nights, it doesn’t happen because we’re short on time. I’m working on teaching my kids how to pack a balanced lunch and could share more about that in a blog post if there’s interest.
Most often, Brad and I will pack the kids’ lunches after they’re in bed. Sometimes by the time we get everyone settled for the night we’re just too tired and we save this for the morning. Especially now with me being very pregnant and Brad having to do more of the bedtime routine on his own. But the morning is always much more relaxed when lunches are packed the night before!
3. Plan for breakfast.
Sometimes this means setting bowls, spoons and cups on the table so they’ll be ready for homemade granola and milk. Sometimes it means giving the kids two choices of what they’d like for breakfast in the morning. Sometimes it means letting the kids know the breakfast plan, to avoid the “I don’t want this for breakfast” complaints. Yes, those most definitely happen. 😉
4. Lay out clothes for the morning.
After they take their bath/shower, the kids lay out the clothes that they’ll wear the next day. When we’re in between seasons, we let them know if they need warmer or cooler outfits. Making the decision of what to wear the night before saves valuable minutes in the a.m. And it prevents morning realizations of “Mom I have no clean shirts in my drawer.”
5. Check your calendar.
Is tomorrow bike day at the preschool? Is the Kindergartner supposed to wear red, the color of the week? Do you need to take something out of the freezer to start defrosting for tomorrow’s dinner? A quick peek at your calendar before bedtime allows you to make sure you’re prepared for the next day. Otherwise you’re relying on “mom brain” and we all know how that often turns out!
And one last bonus tip…
The 5 minute tidy.
It is my ongoing goal to keep a tidy, picked up house. I’m definitely a work in progress. Especially at the moment, when pregnancy exhaustion seems to be taking over my life. Assuming that you have enough energy to stand once you get the kids in bed, taking 5 minutes to tidy up your living area can make a world of difference. When I come downstairs in the morning to a clean kitchen and family room, my mood is instantly more relaxed.
My goal is to use the “one touch rule” and put things away immediately throughout the day. Then it’s more doable to do a quick 5-minute sweep in the evening to take care of any items that need putting away.
What is your best tip for helping mornings to go smoothly in your house? I’m always looking for new ideas… leave a comment below to share!