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Has it regularly become “morning madness” at your house? Most families—especially those with children who have learning and attention issues—have trouble moving from home to school and other activities first thing in the morning. These tips can help you streamline your morning routines.

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Mother helping her daughter pick out clothes for school the night before
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Start the night before.

Get a jump start on your morning. Before bedtime, encourage your child to choose clothes for the next day, take a bath or shower, review her schedule for the next day and check that all books, homework, activity materials and changes of clothing are in her book bag and by the door.

After your child is in bed, take a few minutes to pack lunches and snacks, set the breakfast table, set out your own clothes, review your next day’s schedule and gather any items you’ll need to bring with you in the morning.

Mother taking a coffee break
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Carve out some “me” time.

Consider waking up before your child so you have a few moments to relax, eat breakfast, drink coffee, read, exercise, meditate, check email, review schedules or do whatever else helps you get in the zone for the day’s activities. Having even a little bit of “me” time can make a morning feel calmer in the midst of hectic transitions to work and school.

Mother waking up her daughter with a tickle and hug
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Make wake-ups more pleasant.

How can you make early mornings less of a rude awakening? Blaring alarms can be jarring and start the morning off poorly (especially for kids with sensory processing issues). Can you set your child’s alarm to play her favorite song instead? Rouse her with a snuggle and his favorite juice? A more pleasant wake-up doesn’t mean it has to be longer—just gentler.

Mother checking computer during breakfast with her family
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Follow a schedule.

Make every day as predictable as you can. Try to follow the same schedule every day, before and after school. It may look something like this: Wake, brush teeth, wash face, eat breakfast, get dressed, review day’s schedule, leave for school. Here are more schedule tips to make the day simpler.

Young girl preparing her backpack for school
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Keep home items organized.

Have set spots for school supplies, sports gear, outerwear—even lunch and snack foods. That way, your child will always knows where to look for the things she needs. Consider using plastic organizers to keep these items within easy view and reach.

Mother preparing breakfast for her two daughters
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Rely on clocks.

Put easily visible clocks in your child’s room, the bathroom, the kitchen—even in the hallway. Consider getting your child a watch. By making time more visible, you’re showing the importance of promptness and helping your child learn to manage time. Give concrete countdowns: “At 7:25, I need you to put your coat on.” Explore more ideas on how to help your child get organized.

Mother handing her son his gym shoes for school
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Double-check for materials.

Have your child check to make sure she’s packed everything before leaving the house. This could save you from having to run to school to drop off a forgotten folder or assignment. You and a younger child can create a silly phrase or song to help her remember the books and materials that need to be in her bag each morning. Encourage an older child to make a list of all the items she’ll need for each day of the week. She can post it on the back of her bedroom door and refer to it before leaving the house.

Young girl and her brother reading at the breakfast table
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Offer rewards for finishing early.

If your child is able to get ready in the morning with time to spare, commit to playing a quick game together or reading out loud. Starting the day with family bonding can get everyone off to a great start.

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About the Author

Portrait of Lexi Walters Wright

Lexi Walters Wright is a veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Donna Volpitta

Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., is coauthor of The Resilience Formula: A Guide to Proactive, Not Reactive, Parenting.

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