Surviving the Morning Chaos


A mom brushing her daughter's hair while getting ready for school.Morning. The beginning of a new day, walking into the kitchen in your comfy robe and pouring your first cup of coffee. Enjoying the quiet, you take that first sip and gaze out the window as the sun rises. The stillness of the morning and the intoxicating aroma of coffee remind you how much you enjoy this time alone.

You savor it because you know at any moment that peace will be replaced with the clatter of children stampeding down the stairs, making their presence known.

At that moment, your sunny kitchen and caffeine-infused zen turns into chaos and craziness. As parents, we are all too familiar with this scene. Nevertheless, we try our best to keep structure and routine in our households, especially during morning hours when we need to get our kids to school.

The morning checklist isn’t long and dramatic. It’s pretty simple. Wake up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, and leave the house. Easy right? Wrong.

The process of fulfilling what is on this short but mandatory list can exhaust you in ways you never knew existed.

Let’s start with the “wake-up.” There are usually two scenarios that we encounter. The one where we stand at our child’s bedside, reciting the words “get up” repeatedly. Taking the covers off is useless because your child will lay there nine times out of ten, unphased and still asleep. As your frustration grows, so does time. At this point, you’re most likely entering meltdown mode. As we beg, yell, and even drag our kids out of bed, we are reminded that we still have to get ourselves together and out the door.

The second scenario is less frustrating but equally annoying. It is likely to start in the kitchen while you’re making breakfast. Suddenly, you hear a bang that makes you reluctantly look up at the ceiling and say, “They’re up.” You scramble, get out the cereal bowls and plates, and try to avoid the madness. As our little ones run into the kitchen, still in their pajamas and appearing to have already had their first sugar-rush breakfast cereal, you try to calm them down and attempt to bring some order to the insanity. As they settle at the table, you sigh in relief, trying to steal a sip of your now room-temp coffee.

If you have more than one child, there is a good chance that breakfast turns turbulent real quick. Instead of eating, your children use this precious time to bicker and fight. As much as we want to turn and walk out of the kitchen, letting them work it out on their own, we don’t. Before you know it, the cereal bowl flies off the table, leaving milk and a pile of rainbow-hued cereal on the floor; and just like that, breakfast ended before it even started.

As the morning goes on, you find yourself annoyed, tired, and angry. With teeth still not brushed and lunches not made, you throw your hands up and go through the motions. By now, you’ve managed to get yourself ready, wipe the toothpaste off the mirror (which has unfortunately become part of the morning ritual), make lunch, and head out into the world with kids in tow.

As you let out a heavy sigh and try and keep it together, you realize one of your children is missing (if this applies) from the lineup. This will most likely be your daughter if you have one, and she will still be in her room changing the outfit she had on just moments ago. This is usually the dealbreaker, and when you lose it and throw your composure to the wind.

This may not be for everyone, but I can attest that I have witnessed my daughter try on three shirts and at least five different skirts in a matter of minutes, only to come full circle and end up in the original outfit she started out with! When you get your kiddos out the door, you feel like you’ve just run a 10k marathon.

If this sounds familiar, do not worry, there is hope. We, parents, may not be able to eliminate the challenges of the morning mayhem, but we can certainly modify them.

For instance, if your little ones struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, set your alarm 15 minutes early and give yourself enough time to wake up your sleepyheads. This may not completely solve the problem, but at least you won’t feel the pressure of racing against the clock.

Next up is breakfast. Instead of setting the table and preparing for your kids to sit, lay out the place settings the night before. Break out the cereal bowls and even the silverware. (Bonus points if you leave the cereal box on the table overnight). By making this small adjustment, you’ve gained some extra time to drink and enjoy your morning coffee while it’s hot.

The fun continues with getting your little ones to brush their teeth. This is and will always be a necessary but tedious task. However, switching up the order in which they do it can make a difference. Personally, I found that having my kids brush their teeth as soon as they wake up rather than after breakfast works wonders. Getting it out of the way early is a strategic way of killing two birds with one stone. When your kids wake up and enter the bathroom, the brushing becomes second nature. It’s all about the right place and the right time.

The next time-saving trick is to prepare school lunches at night. You can wake up stress-free, knowing all you have to do is take the sandwich from the fridge and add it to the prepacked lunch bag. Anything besides yogurt or berries can be packed the night before and set out on the counter for your kiddos to grab on their way out. However, before you pat yourself on the back, you still have to make it over one more hurdle, and it’s a doozy.

Enter the fashionistas. Rather than have your kids pick their clothes out that morning, have them do it the night before, everything down to the accessories. This will ensure they will be fresh, fabulous, and, most importantly, on time.

By making a few adjustments to your morning routine, you can slow down a bit and finish your morning coffee. Most importantly, you will teach your kids the importance of structure and time management.

It may take some time, but if you stick to the plan, you and your little ones will have a smoother morning and, hopefully, an even better evening.