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5 Weekend Chores That’ll Make Monday Mornings Less Manic

posted: 05/19/16
by: Blythe Copeland
mom stressed in the morning
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You already know what you should at night to ensure your mornings run as smoothly as possible: Put backpacks by the front door, lay out the kids' clothes (and yours, too), pack lunches, and sign permission slips. But in the chaos of homework, sports practices, music lessons, dinner, and bedtime, some (or, okay, all) of those things can get pushed off the to-do list. Instead, set aside time on the weekend to tackle your weekday prep and take your mornings from manic to mild.

1. Decide on a wardrobe

While choosing the kids' outfits (and your own -- check out these work uniforms) the night before is one way to make mornings simpler, you can cut even more time by planning outfits for the whole week on Sunday. Pull together tops, pants, socks, and extra layers for each day. Look over the school calendar, too, and double check that you aren't forgetting pajama day, color day, costume day, or any other event that would have you scrambling if you left it to the last minute. Collect the pieces of each outfit in a hanging organizer with spaces marked for each day of the week so kids can grab what they need in the morning without fussing.

2. Learn to love make-ahead breakfasts

If your family's go-to breakfasts are cold cereal, toaster waffles, or instant oatmeal, then prepping breakfast the night before is simple: Just lay out the dishes and anything you need from the pantry. But for a heartier start to the day, spend some time on the weekend putting together simple make-ahead breakfasts -- anything from baked oatmeal or healthy blueberry muffins to egg and bacon breakfast sandwiches or easy-to-reheat pancakes. Simplify your smoothie habit by freezing fresh fruit and spinach in individual portions, or make a dozen mini quiches in a muffin tin and just add a side of toast when you serve them. With less than an hour of prep and cooking time, you can have a stock of ready-to-go breakfasts made for the entire week.

3. Get a head start on lunch

You might not want to make enough turkey sandwiches or PBJs for the entire week days in advance (although you could!) but you can still make weeknight lunch packing a little less stressful. Chop vegetable sticks and wash fruit; then divide them into enough sandwich bags or small reusable containers to grab one for each person's lunch each night. The same goes for any snacks you're buying in bulk, from pretzels and crackers to raisins and cheese slices; by dividing these up in advance, you can just grab one of each snack and toss it in the lunchbox during the week. Leave portioned snacks, whole fruit, individual yogurt cups, string cheese, and apple slices within the kids' reach, and create a checklist that reminds them to grab one of each so they can help pack their own lunch.

4. Gather the extras

Spend between 15 minutes and half an hour checking the calendar and gathering up all those small things you'll need to find during the week: permission slips, library books, bills to mail (and postage stamps), the kids' gym clothes and bags, musical instruments, soccer cleats, the scouting uniform. You can pack up all the bags and leave them by the door, but you don't have to: Just making sure that all the gym clothes are clean, library books are out from under the bed, and papers are signed and filed will cut down on your last minute chaos during the week.

5. Time your routine

This isn't something you have to do every weekend, but timing your routine when you're not also trying to get to school and work on time can help you modify your weekday mornings without the massive "We're so late!" meltdown. The key is to figure out how long it actually takes to complete each task -- not how long you think it should take. For example: You can put on your shoes and jacket and grab your bag in under a minute, but your kids need at least five just to slip on their sneakers (laces or Velcro not included). On a weekend day that's less structured, get a sense of how much time different activities require -- eating breakfast, getting dressed, getting in the car -- and then adjust your weekday routine to accommodate the extra time without the extra stress.