My Top 10 Tips for Surviving School Day Mornings

Our boys are finally back in school! I greeted the news with a mix of excitement and trepidation. I was more than ready for them to be back in school, and I think they were too, though neither of them will ever admit it. However, back to school time meant I actually had to start getting up early, and anyone who knows me knows I’m not a morning person.  (Why is it I had no trouble being up early all summer, but the minute I must be up early all I want to do it sleep in?)  Clearly, what was needed to start the school year off on the right foot was a school day morning survival strategy.

Below is a list of my 10 Tips For Surviving School Day Mornings.


I am not a morning person, so I have a survival strategy to help me cope with early school day mornings. Here are my top ten tips for surviving.


 My Top 10 Tips For Surviving School Day Mornings

My school day morning survival strategy is important to a smooth running morning, and consequently, a smooth running day.  Chaos in the morning usually leads to a grumpy day for all involved.  Over the years I’ve fine tuned my morning routine to the point that I can stumble and fumble my way through to the first morning school bell.

1.  Drink Copious Amounts of Coffee, and Drink them Alone!

I find that I am better able to handle the morning if I have time to have that first cup of coffee before the craziness begins.  This means getting up earlier to enjoy the solitude.  Usually my Teen is up around that time, but he is usually busy with his own morning routine, and doesn’t welcome interruptions from me which works well for both of us.  And on those odd mornings when he does want to talk, I find I don’t mind the interruption.  I am keenly aware of the passing of time and arrival od the day our first-born leaves the nest.  These moments are all the more precious to me knowing that I won’t have them forever.

2.  Keep it Simple!

After my first cup of coffee, I head upstairs to wake up Liam, and have to fight the urge to lay down for ‘just a few more minutes’.  Once he’s up it’s breakfast time.  I would LOVE to be one of those moms who can whip up bacon and eggs or pancakes from scratch in the morning, but I’m not.  Instead we do cold cereal, oatmeal, toast and peanut butter (or nutella) and on the odd occasion muffins.  If we’re having pancakes or french toast it is because I made extra the night before, and we just pop them in the toaster.  Keeping breakfast simple is a huge help in the mornings.

3.  Make it Ahead of Time or See Number 2!

When it comes to lunches I try to plan ahead of time.  Our Teen is responsible for his own lunch, but Liam still needs me to make his.  He’s a somewhat picky eater, so lunches are always challenging.  Thankfully he’s old enough to get the lid off his thermos now, so I can add hot meals to the mix.  Sometimes he wants the weirdest things for lunch.  This week is hot dogs.  Yes, you read that right, he wants hot dogs for lunch every day this week, and because it is the first week of school, and because Liam doesn’t really like going to school, I honored that request.  They are easy enough to pop in the microwave and cook up in the morning.  I do this as close to ‘out the door time’ as possible, warm the bun in the toaster and wrap them up in tinfoil to keep them warm for him.  When it’s sandwiches, pizza, or kabobs I make those up the night before.  Snacks are determined at the beginning of the week, and usually only get changed if we do some baking mid-week.  If for some reason the plan falls through, (like the time I made up a chicken with pesto and then realized I couldn’t send it to school because the pesto had nuts in it) then I keep it as simple as I can.  Crackers, cheese and farmer’s sausage, a sandwich made from left over roast beef or whatever I have on hand.

4.  Choose Clothes the Night Before

I don’t always set out our clothes the night before, but I try to have a general idea of what we’re wearing the next day.  This way I can make sure the clothes are clean before deciding to wear them.  We don’t have large wardrobes in our homes, so this is a necessity if I wish to avoid the ‘grab what looks clean from the floor’ scenario.  It also means I can avoid scrambling in the morning when it turns out to be rainy and cold instead of the sunny and warm the weather person predicted.

5.  Dry Shampoo is Your Friend!

I cannot rave about this enough.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a morning person.  Getting up early to enjoy that first cup of coffee is pushing it for me.  Getting up early enough to fit in a shower plus coffee just isn’t going to happen.  Normally I’ll hop in the shower the night before, but there are times when I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that I fall asleep while watching TV, usually to wake up a few hours later to see my full, and now stone cold, cup of tea that I was looking forward to having before my shower.  Thanks to dry shampoo I’m not scrambling in the morning trying to fit in time for a shower.  I can head out the door and not worry that my hair looks all icky.  I can hop in the shower when I get home, which is a perk of working from home.

6. Perfect the Pony Tail

For those mornings when I’m grabbing the dry shampoo with one hand, I’m reading for a hair elastic with the other.  Seriously, there are so many quick and easy ways to dress up a pony tail (many of the tutorials I read even mentioned using dry shampoo as one of the steps) that it can look intentional, and not like you didn’t know what to do with your hair that morning.  Seriously, if you have longish hair, check out some tutorials.

7.  Find Your Five Minute Face

Who has 20 minutes to spend putting on make-up first thing in the morning?  Not me, that’s for sure.  But there are times when I need that little boost, or want to feel a little more pulled together.  That’s where the five-minute face comes in.  My five minute face consists of

  • cleanser
  • moisturizer
  • a little foundation
  • a hint of blush or bronzer
  • couple swipes of mascara
  • swoop of lip gloss

Actually, this takes me about two minutes, but I feel better leaving the house wearing a little bit of makeup.  Some days I don’t bother with the make-up at all which cuts my ‘face’ time down to 1 minute.

9.  Use that Smart Phone!

Seriously, the best part of smart phones, in my humble opinion, is the alarm apps.  I can set alarms for everything.  From wake up times to reminders.  This week I set a new alarm to remind me that it’s 10 minutes to ‘out the door time’ so that we can take our time getting shoes and coats on, and if there is a last-minute item I need to take care of, it’s not making us late.  It may sound really lame, but it’s been a huge help, not just making sure we leave on time, but that we’re not rushing out the door.

10. Set Up a Launch Pad

This could be somewhere near your family message center, or just a corner by the door where you keep the things you need to get out the door.  Ours is in our entryway, backpacks, shoes and coats are all kept in that one area.  I even keep my keys there so that when it comes time to leave we just grab and go.  I try to make sure back packs are packed the night before with library books and permission slips.  I opted to keep everything together so that the boys can just take off their shoes, hang their coats and drop their bags as soon as they get home.  Keeping everything together makes for an easy exit in the morning.

11.  Stop Stressing so Much! {Bonus Tip!}

Life happens!  The world will not end if you have to stop at the office for a late slip one morning out of the year.  (or more, depending on what is happening in your world)  Make sure to leave a little breathing room in your morning routine, not only will you not feel so stressed, your kids will feel less rushed and pressured.  I’m horrible for stressing about time in the morning, my goal for this school year is to breathe more and worry less.  Getting up that half hour earlier to enjoy my coffee is really helping, having a plan in place helps a little more.  Giving myself permission to not be perfect…. well that’s the best of all!  Do yourself a favour, give yourself that same permission!


That, my friends, is my school day mornings survival strategy.  You may have noticed that there are a number of things I’ve left out, such as getting the kids ready, what their routines are, and the like.  This strategy is all about helping myself get through the morning.  I have a WHOLE other strategy for helping the kids, but I think I’ll save that for another day.  It’s Friday, and I’ve survived the whole first week of school day mornings with relatively little stress.  I’m going to celebrate by heading out the library for some uninterrupted book browsing!


What is your school days morning survival strategy?  Is there something you do every morning that helps get you out the door on time?

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