Back To School Solutions #1: Managing the Morning Mayhem

Back in 2007, I wrote an article for Organize magazine entitled Making the Grade. It was loaded with great tips for keeping your family organized during the school year.  The original article is a bit long for a single post, so I’ll be trimming it a bit and breaking it up into four posts focused on the common back to school frustrations: Managing the Morning Mayhem, Avoiding the After-School Avalanche, Coordinating Crazy Schedules, and Helping Your Kids Handle Homework.  Whether your kids are seasoned school veterans or gearing up for their first day of kindergarten, you’re sure to find a few ideas to make the next nine months a little easier.

Managing the Morning Mayhem

For most families, morning is the most chaotic time of the day.  In a very limited amount of time, we struggle to get everyone clean, dressed, fed, and ready for the day.  Add in permission slips to sign, checks to write, and lunches to make – you’re lucky to get out the door at all, much less on time.  Save yourself tons of stress this year by trying our a few of these helpful hints.


Clothes Control

Help your kids help themselves each morning by making them an under-bed clothes organizer.  Look for a large shallow container equipped with wheels at your local super-store.  Trim a large sheet of foam core poster board to create the dividers.  Secure the dividers with clear packing tape and label each section with a day of the week.  On laundry day, have your kids select their outfits from the week (complete with socks and underwear), store them in their organizer and slide the box under the bed.

Send Them Packing

Most mornings we’re in such a rush that we tend to take over our kids’ responsibilities.  We search for library books, track down tennis shoes, and pack lunches.  However, all these chores can be done by our kids if they’re given a reasonable amount of time.  The solution?  Start your a.m. in the p.m.  Designate a certain time each night as “family prep time.”  Help your family remember by setting the alarm on an inexpensive wristwatch and tucking it in a central location in the house (like on top of the TV or in a kitchen drawer).  When the alarm sounds, everyone is required to drop what he or she is doing and prepare for the next day by packing lunches, preparing backpacks, and setting out jackets and shoes.

Snack Central

A simple rolling cart with drawers can be key to keeping your sack lunch supplies and after-school snacks under control.  In the top drawer, stash your sandwich-making supplies such as bread, peanut butter, plastic utensils, and a box of zip-top bags.  Small zip-top bags filled with lunch snacks store neatly in the second drawer.  Reserve the bottom drawer for juice boxes and water bottles.  When it’s time to pack a lunch, simply wheel the cart out of your pantry or laundry room.  A cart with a solid top creates a conveniently low work surface that’s perfect for school age kids.

Picture-Perfect To Do Lists

“Did you remember to brush your teeth?”  This is just one of the many reminders parents shout out to their children each morning.  Motivate even young kids to establish their own morning routine by making an easy to-do list.  First, sit down with your child and determine his or her daily morning duties – i.e. making the bed, brushing teeth, fixing hair, etc.  Next, grab your camera and snap a photo of your child performing each task.  Print the photos and arrange them, in order, on the bedroom door or bathroom mirror.  Remind all your children to double-check their lists before they head down for breakfast.

*This post is an excerpt from an article published by Organize Magazine, Sept/Oct 2007, Volume 02, pg 42-49, authored by Maria Eckersley, photos by Lanola Kathleen Stone.


  1. Jessie G.

    I love the picture to do list idea. I’ve got two girls in elementary school and this will be a live saver! I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to do a photo shoot. I can’t wait to read the rest of the article. Thanks for posting.


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