Make mornings easier with these simple time-savers

Lauren Corona

If you've never used the programming feature on your coffee maker then now is the time. You can wake up a fresh brew in the morning without any effort.

Back to school: Make mornings easier with these simple time-savers

Between wrangling the kids and getting yourself ready, stepping out of the door on time in the morning can be a lot harder than it sounds. When you've got lunches to pack, missing shoes to find, and all of your tops seem to have some kind of unidentifiable stain down the front, mornings can make you feel like you're trapped in some sort of bad dream.

We feel your pain, and we want to help! Check out our selection of simple back-to-school time-savers that will make mornings easier and tardiness a thing of the past.

Idea #1: Make lunch the night before

Packing a healthy lunch that includes all four food groups while you're still rubbing the sleep out of your eyes is just asking too much some mornings. If your kids are brown-bagging it, make their lunches the night before and store them in the fridge. Better yet, give your pocketbook - and the environment - a break by investing in reusable lunch boxes with separate compartments for each food item.

Idea #2: Make breakfast the night before, too

You'd have to be a domestic superhero to whip up a filling, nutritious breakfast before 8 a.m., but there are plenty of foods you can make in advance and serve the next day. Overnight oatmeal, cooked long and low in the slow cooker, makes a hearty breakfast, especially when you spice it up with fruit, cinnamon, or brown sugar. Fruit salad can serve as a standalone breakfast or go alongside a basic breakfast, like toast or cereal. You could even freeze your leftover fruit salad and use it later in a smoothie. And don't forget frozen pancakes and waffles; pop them in the toaster and they're ready to go within minutes.

Idea #3: Roll some "clothes burritos"

Perhaps you already take the time to lay out your children's clothes the night before. But there's always one kid who says he doesn't like today's shirt or he wants to wear shorts instead of pants. On Sunday evening, make five "clothes burritos" for the coming week. These are full outfits, including underwear and socks, rolled into a burrito shape. Put the burritos in a drawer, line them up on a dresser, or find another place to stash them - like a hanging closet organizer. Your kid can grab one and get dressed each morning, yet he'll still feel like he had a choice of what to wear - and you'll sidestep some of the morning drama.

Idea #4: Use a song as a timer

Rather than yelling "Five more minutes!", put on a song your kids like, and tell them they have to be ready to leave by the time the song finishes. Upbeat music is intrinsically motivating, and it puts a positive spin on those last manic minutes of gathering belongings, putting on shoes, finding coats, and so on. What's more, you save your voice and have time to put shoes on yourself.

Idea #5: Print out your morning routine

Having a printed copy of your morning routine can help everyone stay on track. It's especially useful for kids who are old enough to get themselves ready but still need a little prompting. Instead of telling them what to do every few minutes, they can refer to the schedule for reminders while you proceed with other chores.

Idea #6: Get up 10 to 15 minutes before everyone else

While you probably don't aspire to wake at the crack of dawn, giving yourself 10 to 15 minutes to get dressed and have a coffee before everyone else gets up will leave you feeling much more relaxed and ready to face a busy morning.

Idea #7: Learn some quick hairstyles

If you style your kids' hair in the morning, learn some fun 'dos that you can pull off in under five minutes. Practice anything complicated when you're not in a hurry. Braids are an excellent go-to if your child's hair is in need of a wash. And, if you're really in a hurry, a simple ponytail will get the job done.

Idea #8: Say "No" to screen time

Until you remove morning screen time, you have no idea how much time it can save. Kids can get ready much faster when their attention isn't divided between brushing teeth and playing their favorite video game. You can even use screen time as an incentive for them to get ready faster. If you allow your kids to watch TV or play a video game until it's time to leave - once they're 100% ready to go, of course - you'll find they're often ready with 10 minutes to spare. Granted, the chore of getting them off the screen and out the door is a different animal altogether!

Lauren is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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