As I shared last time, this year was a big year for our family because both of our children were heading to elementary school together for the first time. What also has happened for the first time is that we all have to be ready to head out the door at exactly the same time.

One-and-a-half bathrooms in our house just doesn’t seem like enough now that there are four of us getting ready.  In order for us all to look our best and get out the door together, we had to create smooth morning routines to make that happen.

Here are simple strategies we have employed to smooth our school morning routines:

Be Prepared- As with all things regarding organization in our house, over half of the work is done ahead of time to get us ready.  The coffeemaker is programmed and ready to brew, breakfast dishes are set out the night before, marathons of whole grain waffles are made over the weekend for a hearty breakfast, uniforms are laid out for each child, papers are signed, and backpacks are waiting by the door next to their shoes.

What has worked in our house is setting a timer in the evening for the kids to help us tidy up the playroom and I use that designated time (ten or fifteen minutes depending on the mess) to get all of the preparations done for the next day. When the timer dings, we can enjoy a tidier room and a smoother morning the next day.

Make The Kids a Part of the Solution- What part of the morning is stressful for you? I know that I find that my answer may change as the year progresses.

Lunches seemed to be a challenge for me and making sure that we had everything we needed.  Instead of carrying the burden of packing lunches alone, I made my son a part of the solution. A drawer was designated in our fridge and I filled it with a treat, a fruit/vegetable, and sandwiches.  By designating this spot in the refrigerator, my son knew how and what needed to go in his lunches each day and he became the person in charge of that task.

As our children get older, I have to remind myself that many of these responsibilities can and should be their own.  I want them to be wildly self-sufficient adults and each time I make them a part of the solution of our routines, they learn a valuable life skill that they can take with them when they get older.

Try to Stay Unplugged- I find the easiest way for my morning to get off track is to get on my computer.  I know with my own children, I do not allow them to use their electronics until everything they need to get ready for school is done. Shouldn’t that same philosophy apply in my own life?

Try to make a deal with yourself to stay as unplugged as you can and focus on getting everyone off to a great start and tackle those morning to-do’s before you get plugged back in to the world of Facebook or your email box.  I find it is quite amazing how much I can accomplish by just leaving my computer in the off position.

This waffle is our absolute favorite waffle and is filled with whole grain goodness. I make a double batch of these over the weekends and freeze them for a quick breakfast on school mornings. The cinnamon and vanilla in these add a surprising depth of flavor and the stick-t0-your-ribs grains are the perfect way to start your day.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Waffles

  • 1 ¾ whole wheat white flour
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

In a large bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, unbleached flour, dry milk, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, wheat germ, and salt; mix well. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients. Coat your waffle iron with vegetable cooking spray and preheat. Pour 1/2 cup of the batter into the center of the hot waffle iron and cook until the batter stops steaming, about 6 minutes. Cooking time varies according to the they type of waffle iron you have. Repeat with remainder of the dough, applying the cooking spray between waffles. Serve warm with your favorite syrup or fruit preserves.

What do you do to smooth your morning routines? Feel free to leave ideas in the comment box below!

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