To begin with I am not now, nor have I ever been (and doubt I ever really will be) a morning person.
I don't jump out of bed with a spring in my step - at the moment, I roll my big prego belly out and slowly stumble down the hallway until my muscles decide to acknowledge the day.
My kids constantly bicker about who gets how much breakfast, who cleaned their teeth the best, how everything's 'not a race' and many other random argument starters.
My daughter usually complains that she doesn't like porridge, wants to wear her dress as opposed to skorts, wants to do her own hair etc etc
So the long and short of it is, mornings can be painful.
Keeping in mind that in just on two months I will have a third little person vying for my attention in the mornings, I started to think about how I might be able to create a bit of calm in the mornings and hopefully, a bit of motivated independence in my bigger kids so that when the baby arrives, they'll be able (and willing!) to get themselves ready in the mornings.
So here are a few simple things I now do to make our morning's run smoother. Hopefully they're useful for you too!
1. Create a 'launch pad'
We have a designated corner in our lounge room that has a small white Ikea table in it. On that table each night we place uniforms, right down to the socks and undies, ready to put on for the next day. Under the table lives the school shoes (or 'day clothes' and shoes for my pre-schooler), school bags and any other item important for the next day e.g. Library bag filled with library books to be returned, school banking books, school projects or homework to be returned etc.
With all these items in plain sight and laid out ready, little one's cannot complain 'but I couldn't find my dress/socks/undies'... there's no excuse for not getting yourself dressed in the morning! I also make sure that as often as possible, each child is responsible for laying out their own gear for the next day - it adds accountability and reminds them that everything's ready, so they won't need assistance to find anything in the morning.
2. Sunday afternoon bake-fest.
Every Sunday afternoon (again where possible - if I'm travelling I catch up on Monday afternoon), I do a big bake-fest. I will make cheesy spinach scrolls (and freeze), baked lunchbox treats like muffins or home made LCM bars, peel and cut carrot and celery sticks for the week (and store in an airtight container filled with water in the fridge) and make sure the fruit bowl is stocked high and the plain additive free crackers are loaded.
3. Re-load lunch boxes each afternoon.
As soon as the kids are home from school or pre-school they know they need to bring me their lunch boxes from their bag. As soon as they're cleaned out, I re-load them and put them in the fridge where the kids then know they need to come and collect them and put them in their bag the next morning. If I don't get to do this at that moment, I generally do it before I go to bed. That way, even if I'm slow to start the next day, I know the kids can get their lunch out and pack it with no fuss.
4. Lay out breakfast.
I have to admit, breakfast is something I have struggled with when it comes to my two kids. I don't like buying cereal because for the nutritional value, they may as well eat the box it came in. The first thing my kids have every day when they wake is a banana or apple, something they can help themselves to. I then will get up and make the porridge with chia or something like eggs that is protein packed to keep them going all day. But on days or sometimes weeks where we are all tired and things aren't running so smoothly, making cereal (something not too sugary) easily accessible so they can get their own breakfast makes morning complaints less and time taken to get ready speeds up.
If you're kids are littler - say around 4 and up - pour their cereal in the bowl the night before and pop it on the table covered in glad wrap. Allocate them their own special little milk jug in the fridge with just enough for one serve to avoid over-pouring and food wasting. It will allow them to have some independence and at the same time, save your sanity.
5. Create a morning checklist
For bigger kids, it can be words - for little kids - pictures. If they have a checklist of what to do every morning, they can't say they didn't know they had to do it!
Now, I don't always get this right, but I can easily recognise that being a little more organised means a lot less stress in the mornings.
The best place I've found for hints, tips and motivation for how to get organised like this and beyond is from my friend Marissa over at Beautifully Organised. I recently attended on of her Busy Mum's workshops and although I had already started this journey to calming our morning's, the things I learned at the workshop really affirmed what I was already doing and gave me new ideas on how to really succeed at creating stress free starts to my days!
Make sure you pop on over and visit her blog or sign up to her Facebook page for more ideas and motivation... don't forget to tell her I sent you!
And finally - be flexible. If it doesn't happen like this for you, find your own groove. And if it's doesn't happen right away, keep calm, carry on, think BIG and start small ;)