Working moms juggle two crucial roles as full-time workers at home and on the job. Staying organized is essential for your sanity, especially in the mornings when you’re trying to get yourself and the kids out the door.
The challenges that a working mom faces are well-known and backed up by studies. Researchers point out that working moms juggle career, children, aging parents, and keeping every family member on track. The result can be a chaotic, stressful life.
Thus, working moms should try to develop good habits to offset the morningtime rush. Many organizational strategies work, some work better for you than others. See if any of these 15 organization tips could help you with your busy mornings.
15 Useful Tips to Help Working Moms Get Out the Door Faster
Rise and shine–before the kids do
Set your alarm to awaken you at least 30 minutes before your kids get up, even earlier if you prefer a little more peace and quiet. Use your time alone to drink a cup of coffee, shower, and dress. You’ll feel calmer and mentally prepared for your day once you’re dressed and ready to step out the door.
Wake the kids up around the same time every day
Your older kids should be responsible enough to get up on their own. Have them set the alarm to ensure they wake up. If they don’t get up, have a plan to wake them. One parent tells us that she went into her teenage son’s room and blew a whistle loudly on the days he wouldn’t get up. He quickly learned to set his alarm to avoid his mom’s wake up technique. It was too annoying, he said.
Give your kids a morning routine
Research supports the claim that children need a set routine.
Once your children are old enough, around four years old, teach them to navigate their morning routine. Show the younger children how to make their beds, brush their teeth, and get dressed. Have their clothes laid out in a spot of their choosing so they can easily dress without asking you for help.
Let the kiddos practice over the weeks and encourage their attempts, even if they aren’t perfect. Young kids love the independence and usually rise to the occasion. Of course, your kids will get distracted, but a simple reminder will help them get on track.
Teach your kids simple breakfast prep
Provide easy to make breakfasts that your kids can make on their own. Toaster waffles, cereal, yogurt, or bagels are easy for kids to navigate. You can make smoothies the night ahead and serve those to your kids for breakfast, too.
Make lunches the night before
If your kids take their lunch, prepare them the night before. There are great lunch boxes now with easy to clean compartments. Fill their lunches with fruit, veggies, and other yummy foods. Buy easy to send foods like carrots, celery, granola bars, and hummus packets.
Have your kids help you pack up their lunches so they can choose what they want to eat. It’s a great time to chat about what’s going on at school. Lunchtime at school is sometimes hard for kids because the cafeteria is crowded, and there aren’t many teachers around to supervise the conversations. So, find out what kids are saying and how your child is processing all the talks.
Layout kids clothes and your clothes the night before
Every night before bed, have your younger kids help you choose what they want to wear the next day. It’s usually more manageable for the boys to pick out their clothes than the girls, so if you need to negotiate what they’re wearing, it’s better in the evening than the morning of school. Your older kids should lay out their own clothing. You can go check to see if they look okay. Some older kids resent this, but it’s a great habit for them to establish. Make it a house rule. Every house has rules, so tell them it’s just an easy house rule to follow.
Ensure that homework gets done the night before
What parent hasn’t woke up to find out that their sixth-grader is frantic about an undone project due that day? It is typical for kids to forget their homework assignments. Hang baskets near your front door for homework assignments to be kept so you can get a quick glance at them before they go into your kids’ backpack.
If you see something left undone, you can show your child and have them finish it. Or if there’s not enough time, have your child contact their teacher on their own to tell them they didn’t do the assignment. Teaching your child to bear the weight of responsibility and to fix it is helpful. Teachers are usually happy to cut kids some slack when they’re honest about their mistakes.
Schedule interruptions (all busy moms know these things are inevitable)
Life happens even to the most organized schedule. Things like lost shoes, kids arguing, and lost car keys happen. One mom shared how she was all dressed for work, nursing the baby just before stepping out the front door when her three-year-old daughter walked into the room and threw up all over her.
Plan for the unexpected.
Make sure your boss knows you have small kids. Hopefully, they’ll be sympathetic and understand that unplanned things happen. Pad your time schedule to allow for little interruptions in your mornings.
It’s okay to need help. Not a soul will think anything less of you, and if they do, it’s their problem. Find an early morning nanny who can help your kids on the bus in the morning and off the bus in the afternoons. Once your kids are older, they’ll be able to do this on their own, but while your kids are young, it’s good to have the help.
Hire house cleaners when your kids are little. This way, you can concentrate more on your family and less on housework. Order fresh meals delivered to your home that you need to prepare. Again, some of these things will work for a season, when you’re especially busy with little kids. You can re-evaluate after six months or a year to see if you still need this help.
Get your partner’s help.
Ask your partner to do the morning shift once in a while. Taking turns helps both of you understand what mornings are like. It can also be helpful if there need to be changes made. One partner may come up with a creative solution the other partner hadn’t thought of. When you divide and conquer the mornings with your partner, you’ll feel less stressed and able to get out the door calmly.
Try to keep work at the office.
If possible, try not to do office work in the mornings. If you need to do some work, get up earlier, so you’re finished by the time the kids wake up. In the mornings, give your kids your full attention, so they feel like their mom is aware of their needs for the day. It’s tough on a kid to go to school all day and feel like their mom hardly noticed them. Tell your co-workers you aren’t taking calls till after a specific time. Don’t look at your emails until you’re at the office. You’ll be surprised how “pressing issues” aren’t as pressing as they are presented to be.
Tell your kids you love them.
Kids have stuff going on at school. They need their parent’s support and love. Every day, be sure to tell your kids how much you love them and how proud you are of them. Make sure they leave for school with a sense of confidence in who they are and knowing how much they are loved and also supported. If you’re traveling, of course, you can easily text your kids or give them a phone call before they leave for school. Youmay never know the impact you are making on your kids’ life by a simple statement. Later on, when they’re older, they’ll tell you how much it meant as they faced their daily challenges.
Keep a sense of humor.
Kids are kids. They cry, whine, complain, and stomp their feet. Don’t sweat the small stuff like mismatched socks or smug teenager looks. These are things you should overlook as not that important. Most of the things you’re obsessing over will all be different in five years. So relax, and don’t let the small issues get you down. Plus, your example of how to navigate stress is an essential lesson for your kids as they face their own challenges.
Keep a schedule in your kitchen.
Wall calendars seem so 90s, but a paper calendar is helpful to keep your family updated on the weekly events. Hang a large paper calendar in your kitchen marked with sporting practices, games, and family outings. Your kids will always know what’s going on. In the corner of the calendar list, the family dinners for the week. This way, when the kids ask you what’s for dinner, you can point them to the calendar. Plus, having a dinner schedule will help you with grocery shopping and meal planning.
Plan a routine that includes playtime
Routines bring peace, but they’re so easy to break. Who doesn’t want to sleep in when you’ve been up all night several times with the baby? But the more you can keep your routine, the better for you and your family. Kids thrive on routine. It’s actually good for kids who get stressed out quickly. So, if you strive to make it work, your kids will too. Motivative your kids by having family meetings once every couple weeks to praise them for their efforts in the mornings and how well they’re doing at keeping the routine.
Plan fun family weekend movies and outdoor activities to offset the weekly schedule. Make weekends sleep in-days, so your kids will learn what a day off means. It’s easy to be too work-focused. Teach your kids the value of resting and play so they can be well-rounded people.
Busy days with a family need good organizational habits to make it through. Try to incorporate some of these easy tips to see if they work for your family. Add others as required. You might need to tweak some of them to make them work well for you, but try to keep a predictable routine. Kids thrive with routine, and they’ll enjoy the weekends more when they’ve worked hard all week to get up and off to your daily destinations on time.