10 Tips for Easy School Mornings

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Rachel at Useful Beautiful Home.

10 Tips for Easy School Mornings at orgjunkie.com

I did everything right, or so I thought. I checked and double checked the list of school supplies. I attended all the new parent orientation meetings. I resourced my Pinterest page on healthy meals for school lunches. My husband drew a silly lunchbox note while I packed the lunch ahead of time. We set up a child friendly morning routine chart. I had emergency precautions prepared for the teacher because my daughter carries an EpiPen. Everything was done by Sunday evening for the first big day of Kindergarten. I. Was. Ready. (Yeah, I realize we’re talking about just KG, but roll with me for a minute.)

Fast forward to halfway through our drive to school on Monday morning when my husband asks, “Did you put her lunch in the car?” “No, did you?” “NO! Turning to our daughter I ask, “Did you grab your lunchbox?” Of course she echos the same, “No.”

Sigh, while thinking to myself; all that preparatory work and my child is going to starve on her first day of school. I’m an absent minded school mom before the year has even begun. Surely this will affect her for life, at the very minimum reaching into her college years. I shoulda, I coulda, if only I woulda…

To make matters worse, our drive to school is a whopping 45 minutes. Yep, that’s an hour and a half round trip. We’re talking 90 minutes, folks. I suppressed my annoyance (after all, it was her very first day) and vowed to write a post to help other first time school moms. Well, that wasn’t my first thought, but it did surface sometime during the multiple 45 minute road trips I made that day.

From what went right to what went wrong, below are my 10 tips for easy school mornings. If it helps, the first 7 of these are all things to prepare the night before.

Set out everyone's clothing the night before school

(1) Lay out clothing, socks, shoes and even accessories the night before

While you’re at it, lay out YOUR own clothes too! That way, everyone can wake up and stumble into clean clothes before reaching full mental alertness.

Print off a list of daily to-do's for your school morning routine

(2) Make a morning to-do list specific to school related details

Whether using an electronic gadget or a handwritten note, state the obvious on that list. There’s no shame in reminding yourself of the details that seem like a no-brainer when your mind is charged and fully aware. In the morning rush, processing through those obvious tasks aren’t as clear – oh, ya know, like leaving that lovingly packed lunchbox at home.

I was so concerned about educating my daughter with her own little morning routine checklist (HERE) that I failed to notice my own need. Some mornings my mind is so fuzzy (okay, all mornings), I practically need a reminder list to actually put my child in the car along with all the other school gear. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but the point is, I’m not a morning person, I have limits that can be dealt with by making one simple reminder list.

If you’re lucky enough to be a cheery morning soul, then this bullet point still applies to you but at the opposite time. You might do best with an evening reminder list of what is necessary to do the night before to ensure a smooth school morning. My hubby fits into this category. I’ve noticed he’ll make a reminder list for himself of things to finish up before bedtime because he reaches a new level of sleepiness when 8pm rolls around. Everyone needs a gentle nudge from time to time, when the brain cells are slowing down.

Put your school morning reminder list in a prominent place so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle

(3) Put that list somewhere prominent

Or, if it’s an electronic list on your phone or tablet, then make an audible alarm to act as a reminder to review the list. I even suggest using a distinct sound specific to school mornings. Your brain will eventually associate the the distinct alarm noise with the routine list (like Pavlov’s dogs and their conditioned response).

For me, I’m more of a write-it-down-and-look-at-it-a-dozen-times kinda gal. I always love when my fellow paper & pen friends make mention here because I know I’m not alone. 🙂 In our last house, I posted a reminder list (read HERE) that worked well for those purposes.

However, for school mornings, I’ve adopted a much more inclusive routine. I typed up a colorful list of regular items we take to school on a daily basis; lunchbox, backpack, homework folder, etc. Those things that will almost always be needed in the morning were listed out in whatever logical order made sense to me. I printed the list, complete with check-boxes and extra space at the bottom to write in “extras” that will occur. As typical for me, I also laminated it for re-usability.

Put it somewhere painfully obvious. Don’t let it blend in with all the other papers that accumulate or fall to the floor unnoticed. Find a spot relevant to your morning routine but very apparent. Printing/writing it on florescent paper also seems helpful.

Pack as much in the lunchbox as possible the night before school

(4) Pack lunches the night before as much as possible

If some items are best packed in the morning (like small freezer packs) put it on your morning to-do list.

Don’t pack lunches? Then make sure your child’s money card or purchased lunch details are completed properly for the week or month per school policy.

Set two alarms to avoid over-sleeping

(5) Set two alarms

At least while you’re adjusting to the new wake time. Summertime is sleepy and dare I say, lazier than usual. Even if you get up regularly for work, getting children out the door for school coupled with surplus traffic flooding the streets requires a few minutes of earlier wake time.

We set two alarms for the first day of my daughter’s school and I couldn’t have been more thankful. Mine did NOT go off and my husband’s did. Guess who made the AM/PM mistake [again].

Plan breakfasts for the week to provide energy for your child's brain cells

(6) Plan your breakfast(s) for the week

Experts aren’t lying, breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. The human brain doesn’t just like glucose (that’s a form of sugar) to function, it requires glucose. Without getting all technical on you, the gist is that the brain does not have a fuel storage system to draw from when running low, it must have a constant and steady supply of glucose. That’s why, after a long night of fasting from food, a brain needs good protein and healthy carbs to refuel for a fresh start or “thinking supply” of glucose. I can’t stress the impact this will benefit your Little One heading off to a big day of learning!

Getting down from my glucose soapbox, I find it helpful to plan my breakfast menu for the week. On school days, I try to keep it simple. Your child’s brain doesn’t care if it’s gourmet, just healthy and basic will offer the nutrients needed.

Pack backpack the night before

(7) Pack school backpacks and other related items the night before

One of my favorite sayings is, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Packing that backpack is like preventing an avalanche of surprises. I put my mom through many mornings of “oh by the way, we have a huge project worth 75% of our grade due today and I need you to blah, blah, blah.” Knowing ahead of time what is required for the next day is half the battle. Especially when they’re little (still speaking to the newbie moms) and can’t read the details for themselves.

(8) Leave some room for extra morning snuggles or a cup of coffee

In other words, leave a few extra minutes to spare beyond what you expect. If you use them, then thank goodness you allotted the extra time. If you don’t and you’re running right on schedule with time to spare, then you have extra morning snuggles or playtime giggles to start your kiddo’s day off cheerfully.

(9) Get yourself dressed and ready first

If momma ain’t ready, ain’t nobody ready. Well, that ain’t exactly true. But, I’m almost always zippin’ around the house taking care of everyone except myself. Even the dog gets priority over my own hair being brushed. I’m lucky to have 5 peaceful minutes by the time I turn to myself. It’s amazing how much more cheery and energetic I am when I feel ready to face the day by having gotten myself actually “ready”. Plus, you want to be in all those first day pictures wearing something other than pajamas, right? 🙂

Don't forget to relax!

(10) Relax! And I’m not just saying that because I need a tenth bullet point!

I don’t think our children will fail school and become kindergarten drop-outs over a rushed morning or a forgotten permission slip (despite my opening italicized over-dramatization).

Busyness happens but so do random acts of kindness. School administration is understanding (unless you “forget” twenty times in a row). They will always find a way to cover the gaps. Back to my lunchbox blunder on my daughter’s first day of school, I’m sure if I never realized my mistake, someone would have covered her lunch needs. I know because she shared her lunch last year when a fellow preschooler forgot food. Kids share, teachers help, and if all else fails, moms drive 90 minutes round-trip to make a first day unforgettable… for both of us.


In the professional world, I’m a nurse by trade. But, around our house, I’m known as Mommy to our young daughter. My two worlds collided and began shaping into a blog. Useful Beautiful Home represents the hours I’ve dedicated to managing my household as efficiently as possible. I offer you motivation to keep your home healthy, organized, and welcoming. My goal is to share what I’ve implemented in my home to inspire you with fresh ideas and to encourage you to keep up the good work in yours! Learn more about me HERE or visit me at UsefulBeautifulHome.com.


Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Kid Stuff, Rachel, School Stuff


15 Responses to 10 Tips for Easy School Mornings

  1. 1
    Jessica Snell says

    The “having a plan for breakfast” one is the one I really want to work on this year. It makes everything run so much more smoothly!

    • 1.1
      Rachel @ Useful Beautiful Home says

      Yes, so true, Jessica! Thanks for sharing. It’s surprising how much it helps our mornings run smoothly too! 🙂

  2. 2
    Jennifer says

    I created a “school zone” in an odd corner of our house. It has command strip hooks for both kids. My son up higher and daughter lower and opposite. I also put 4 hooks (4 for each kid) down lower to the ground above the baseboards. This is where each kid can put 2 pairs of shoes (one hook per shoe). The reason for this is when kids get home they unpack their backpacks (folders/books and lunch boxes) on the counter. After this they hang their backpacks up and take off their shoes and put on the hooks. Opposite of their backpack zone they each have another hook where I place their clothes for the next school morning. I hang all of their uniforms (shorts/pants and shirts up for this reason). I put underwear around both hangers and put socks on the end of the hook. Both kids know exactly where all of their morning gear is at.

    I also get the weeks clothes together (underwear and socks too) and put in their room. This allows me to stream line the night before prep. I know that this sounds like too much but it works for me and my family.

    We still have a ways to go to “perfect” (and I use this term very loosely) our routines. I’m working on the breakfast planning and lunches and dinner. It’s hard when hubby and I are watching what we eat and don’t always eat the same things and I’ve got 2 of the most picky and taste sensitive kids on the planet. For example my son will ONLY drink water or white milk. His choice since birth. That’s how sensitive we are talking. I love that he only drinks these two things but it’s hard to plan meals (and health) with my Deliema.

    • 2.1
      Rachel @ Useful Beautiful Home says

      Thanks Jennifer! I love the effort you put into making your school mornings and afternoons run smoothly. No, it doesn’t sound like too much by preparing clothing for the entire week. In fact, I do the same for our household! It’s all about what works best for each family and I appreciate what you shared!

  3. 3
    Amanda says

    Thanks so much! This is really helpful! I have 4 in private school, and most of these tips will make my morning smoother. I am not organized by nature, but I’m working on it.

    • 3.1
      Rachel @ Useful Beautiful Home says

      You’re welcome, Amanda! I think reading OrgJunkie.com is such an awesome tool! I’m convinced we don’t have to be organized by nature in order to create a peaceful home. We all have strengths in different areas and I love that you identified what you want to work on! Thanks for the comment… I’m so glad this was helpful for you!!!

  4. 4
    Karissa says

    It’s great that you turned a stressful, oops we forgot moment into a helpful post. We all have those moments as parents. My daughter forgot her backpack one day in kindergarten, she’s in 2nd grade now and she still remembers it. Luckily we are only 10 minutes away.

    • 4.1
      Rachel @ Useful Beautiful Home says

      Thanks Karissa! Yes, my whole goal in sharing was to encourage others that we’re all human and prone to making mistakes. For me, it’s just a matter of using the mistakes as learning tools. Thanks for commenting!

  5. 5
    Hannah says

    Those tips are extremely helpful yet surprisingly simple! Thank you for sharing!

    • 5.1
      Rachel @ Useful Beautiful Home says

      I know! What could be better than simple? 🙂 I love when easy ideas make all the difference in organization. Thanks Hannah!

  6. 6
    Morgan says

    Great tips Rachel! I love the last one – relax! I’ve got one more week and then we’re back into school mode around here. I’ll be using the layout your clothes the night before for my youngest. 🙂

  7. 7
    Sarah says

    I don’t have kids, (just a cat,) but I work full time and just started taking evening classes a couple of nights a week, so those are the days I have to prep breakfast, lunch, AND an on-the-run dinner + school bag before rushing off to work in the morning. I’m going to use a few of your tips here just to get my own lazy butt out the door in a semi-organized fashion (and still have time to feed the cat!)
    Thanks for the nudge!

    • 7.1
      Sarah says

      Also, that backpack is TOO adorable!

    • 7.2
      Rachel @ Useful Beautiful Home says

      Wow, busy girl! So glad this helped you, Sarah! I’m sure your cat will thank you for a bowl of breakfast on those busy mornings. 🙂


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