Between getting dressed, fed and organized, it's a miracle the kids make it to the bus at all. Get out the door faster this semester with these parent-approved tips.
1. Plan oufits ahead of time
This strategy tops lots of parents' lists for a reason. Lay out clothes for the next morning (or even the next week), and preempt any debates on what's considered appropriate school attire.
2. Prep lunch the night before
When dad Chris Pegula, author of the book From Dude to Dad, noticed his friend's kids packing their lunch at night, a light bulb went off. "I looked in amazement as they made their choices," he said. "Within seconds they filled their lunch totes, and were onto the next task of getting ready for bed."
3. Keep backpacks packed
Besides putting homework away ahead of time, professional organizer Janet Bernstein has her kids' phones charge on top of their backpacks each night, so they never forget them. "Implement this rule, and you've also solved the 'no devices in the bedroom' argument," she says.
4. Set consequences and stick to them
A few moms reported that the threat of extra chores or no TV time works well in keeping kids on task. Consider making the morning routine part of your kids' allowance responsibilities: Each day you leave late, dock their weekly "pay."
5. Invest in timers
Setting a timer to ring intermittently ("15 minutes 'til the bus! Five minutes! Time to go!") is a popular tactic.
6. Store gear in the car
You may dream of shoes neatly placed in bedrooms, but you might be better off stashing them by the backseat.
7. Admit when you're the weakest link
Moms aren't immune to lateness either. Designate a tray for keys if you're constantly misplacing them, invest in a programmable coffee maker and start filling your gas tank in the evenings to make for a smoother start to the day.
8. Add a little fun to the mix
Playing games at the bus stop or making it a race out the door can give kids an incentive to get moving.
9. Start a family calendar
Field trips won't sneak up on you if the day's events are posted right on the fridge.
10. Be consistent
It's easy to space before the first cup of coffee, but standardizing the essential steps can help.
11. Stay on top of signatures
Avoid last-minute scrambling by asking kids about permission slips, tests or report cards the night before the morning rush. A family folder or inbox can also keep important paperwork together.
12. Simplify breakfast
A brunch buffet may not be in the cards, but you can still get kids fed and full with healthy breakfast bars, overnight oats or even frittata muffins. You can bake 'em on Sunday, and then reheat all week.
13. Enforce bedtime
It's common sense, but a solid night's sleep makes getting up that much easier.