Its 7 a.m. You are half awake. Your daughter wants to debate about her clothes while you are scrambling to find your briefcase and keys.
You barely make it out of the door with both shoes on, traffic seems endless as you break a sweat before even getting to work.
It's the type of morning many suffer through often.
And spending a morning like that is a sure-fire way to ruin your day, said Standolyn Robertson, founder of Things In Place, a personal organizing business.
"It is hard to have a good day if it is started on the wrong foot," she said. "If you are overwhelmed from the beginning, everything else can seem more frustrating throughout the day."
Set A Routine
Robertson said making a morning routine with your family and working together to stick to it can greatly reduce your daily stress.
She said to take time and specifically plan how your morning will go, asking each family member what his or her ideal morning routine would be.
Amy Allen Clark, founder of MomAdvice.com, said actually writing this routine down and hanging it on the refrigerator can ensure everyone is aware of it.
And Clark said to make sure to keep the children involved.
"Children love routines and they love to know what to expect out of their day," Clark said. "It is much easier on the entire family if everyone knows what they need to accomplish for that day."
The Night Before
Both Robertson and Clark said the best way to have a stress-free morning is to prepare the night before.
"You should wake up to nice relaxing morning where things are already done," Robertson said. "You don't want to be doing any business in the morning."
Robertson said all dried goods should be placed in lunches. Add refrigerated items quickly in the mornings.
Backpacks and briefcases should be by the front door with all homework done, papers signed and ready to go.
Any family discussion should also be had the night before, Robertson said.
"Children should not be trying to sell their parents wrapping paper for a fundraiser on the way to school," she said.
Clark said everyone should have their clothes picked out and set to go before they go to bed. This saves times and prevents arguments.
Clark said a great way to avoid those morning clothing arguments is to get an organizer that has spots for each day of the week. Children can pick out their clothes for the week and you can review them together.
"Doing this on a Saturday afternoon is a lot less stressful than doing it during a weekday morning," she said. "Get in the routine of doing this with your child and it will save you both a lot of hassle and heartache."
What Works For You
When it comes to getting out of bed and facing the day, everyone is different.
Robertson said acknowledging that and working around it can help with everyone's morning moods, creating for an easier routine.
"People need to wake up in a way that works for them, no matter what their age," she said. "Matching what you need so that you wake up and feel good about that morning is essential."
She said each person should have their own alarm clock, suited to their needs. Those who wake up slow may prefer an alarm with a light that comes on gradually, while others may prefer to wake up to their favorite CD.
Robertson said it is also important that each person figures out his or her own time to rise. While some people can get ready quickly and rush out the door, others like to take it more slowly. Each member of the family should figure out which wake-up time works best for them without interfering with other people's schedule.
If one person is feeling rushed and stressed, Robertson suggested trying waking up earlier in 15-minute increments until the have enough time to have an easy morning.
"People should have just as much time as they need to get out of the door without feeling stressed," she said.
Clark said all of the breakfast supplies should be all spread out. Cereal bowls can be set out and batches of waffles and pancakes can be made in advance and refrigerated or frozen.
"Anything that you can do ahead of time will aid in creating that ideal morning," Clark said.
Robertson said because kids have different school schedules and parents have to be at work at different times, eating breakfast together is not the easiest of things.
In fact, she said, it's not essential.
"I would much rather see families get out of house without a hitch and have a lovely dinner together," she said.
She said to focus more on creating healthy easy-to-assemble breakfasts such as smoothies and yogurt with granola. She also recommends a coffee maker with a timer to save a few extra minutes.
With a little preparation you can have quick, healthy breakfasts prepared, she said.
"There should be no reason to swing by fast-food places last minute," she said.
Having a shower schedule down pat is also great for avoiding morning chaos.
Robertson said to start with figuring out how long each family needs in the bathroom. If there is a major time issue, she said, have some family members blow dry their hair or put on makeup in their bedroom.
Clark said that some people could shower in the evening, instead. She said picking the person who usually takes the longest in the bathroom is best.
If there is a fight between siblings about who should take a shower in the evening, Clark said to alternate days so that the new schedule is fair to everyone.
3, 2, 1 -- Launch
Once you are ready to head out the door, Robertson said having what she calls a launch pad could help you leave nothing behind.
This is a place for charging cell phones and keeping keys, book bags and anything that needs to go out of the door with you.
"The launch pad in your home is where you come and go from," she said.
Robertson said figuring out a peaceful and organized way to do your morning routine can significantly affect your day.
And, Clark said, if one morning does go bad, don't let it carry over into the next.
"It is important to remember that just because your morning doesn't go smoothly one day, doesn't mean that it has to be that way for the rest of the week," she said.
By Kelly Herdrich, Contributing writer
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