Finally, a Stress-Free Morning Routine That Actually Works

This easy morning routine will get your family up, ready for school, and out the door on time–even on Mondays.

rocket school backpack
Photo: Antonio Solano/Getty Images

No one likes having a stressful (or haphazard) morning routine for school that ends up making you (and your kids) late. It knocks you off your game, messes with your mood...and usually results in you leaving something essential on the kitchen counter.

These morning routine tips and hacks will help you and yours wake up on time, get ready faster, and head to school with minutes to spare—and they don't involve setting the alarm any earlier than you have to.

Note: Big kids (middle school, high school, and college students) can handle this morning routine on their own. For younger kids, go through the routine with them step by step. Once they're old enough, they'll transition into doing it by themselves, giving you precious spare minutes back at night and in the morning.

Your Morning Routine for School: Part One

The night before...

  1. Check the weather forecast. Knowing the weather for tomorrow will help you pack your bag and plan your outfit.
  2. Pack your bag. Make sure your books, papers, laptop, headphones, keys, and anything else you need (sunglasses or umbrella?) for tomorrow are packed up and waiting by the front door. The more you do when you're wide awake, the less you'll forget tomorrow morning.
  3. Charge your devices. Laptop, tablet, phone—make sure they're powered up.
  4. Pick an outfit. With the forecast in mind, you know whether to dress for sun, rain, snow, hot temperatures, or cold. Build from there, from shoes on up. (Now is the time to realize you don't have any clean socks and adjust accordingly). Put everything on a hook on your bedroom door or over a chair.
  5. Move your alarm across the room. It's way too easy to hit snooze from the comfort of your cozy bed. Instead, set an old-school digital clock or your phone to at least 30 minutes before you need to leave the house, then put it at least 4 feet from your mattress. When it goes off in the morning, you'll be forced to get out of bed to turn it off. You're just a tiny stumble to the bathroom away from washing up and starting your routine.

Your Morning Routine for School: Part Two

The morning of...

  1. Once you've turned off your alarm, hit the bathroom. Feeling groggy? Wash your face or shower using a minty-smelling body wash for extra perk-up power.
  2. Make your bed. It takes seconds and should be a regular part of your morning routine—you'll thank yourself tonight when you flop into your well-made bed, exhausted.
  3. Get dressed. This should take seconds since you prepared last night. (Don't switch outfits on impulse—save that good idea for tomorrow.)
  4. Eat breakfast. After being in sleep mode for at least eight hours (Remember: teenagers need eight to 10 hours a night; younger kids need even more), you need to refuel. Choose a protein-and-carb combo to keep you energized and full until lunch. Think: cereal and milk or toast and nut butter; an egg, yogurt or overnight chia pudding, and fruit. Even a cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread will do the trick—and you can take it to go.
  5. Brush your teeth (again). Dentists have finally provided us with an answer to the age-old question: Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? (Hint: The answer is before!) But it doesn't hurt to brush again after you eat.
  6. Fix your hair. Whether you just brush your hair in the morning or attempt cute, easy hairstyles, take just a moment to get your locks how you like them.
  7. Save a few minutes for quick chores. Walk the dog, feed the cat, and take kids to the bus stop. Rather than check your phone or turn on the TV, do these things now while you still have time.
  8. Head out. Grab your bag as you leave the house, lock up if you have to, and get going! The late bell will never strike fear into your heart again.
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