This is serious stuff. Getting out of the house on time and without drama is a challenge with children. Between lunch boxes, backpacks, science projects, and whatever else you need to have with you when you head out the door, your morning routine can become a chaotic mess quickly. Make sure you have a plan.

1. Start on Sunday Evening

Make a lunch and snack menu for the week so you always know what you're preparing for the kids. This will save you that time you often waste standing at the pantry or refrigerator and staring at all the food. You can also spend Sunday evening looking over the schedule for the week to make sure you are aware of and ready for any appointments, after school activities, or field trips that are scheduled. Make sure the ingredients for a healthy breakfast (protein, whole grains, and fruits) are ready for the morning rush. 

2. Pack the Night Before

Make lunch and have book bags packed and by the front door before anyone goes to bed. Each child should make sure he has everything he needs, including sneakers for gym, signed permission slips, homework, and library books to return. If it's winter, make sure all boots, mittens, scarves, and hats are accounted for and ready to be put on as you run out the door. Pack the bag for your work, too.

3. Wake Up at the Right Time

Waking up too early can sometimes have the same effect of waking up late. Your mind is tricked into believing you have an endless amount of time to get ready, and that means you end up wasting time. Plan to wake up at a certain time depending on how long it takes to accomplish each morning task. And stick to that morning schedule. Set the timer for breakfast if you have to so that you and your children are aware when time is up for eating and you all must get dressed and brush teeth. If you wake up before the sun rises, consider purchasing an alarm clock that wake you up with light to help your body to recognize that it's morning.

4. Go to Bed

Getting the right amount of sleep will help you wake up on time. But in the winter months, waking up before the sun can be difficult. Our bodies simply aren't ready. So go to bed early based on the recommended times for your children's ages.

5. Build a Few Extra Minutes Into the Schedule

There's no accounting for freak meltdowns, bathroom mishaps, or traffic. Give yourself extra time to get where you need to go. Otherwise, your car trip will turn into a stress-fest and you'll all be worked up before you get anywhere.

6. Don't Yell

Whatever you do, don't yell. You shouldn't need to with your new system in place, but even if you're frustrated, remain calm. When you yell, your kids get upset and stressed and therefore make you more upset. Try giving instructions one at a time such as, "Put your shoes on." Giving too many instructions at once, or instructions that are too vague, creates confusion. If you tell them what's going on clearly and concisely, they are more likely to actually hear you since there's only a few words to take in.

Create a morning routine and stick to it. There will always be days when things don't go as planned, but when everyone knows what is expected of them and what the rules are, your mornings will go more smoothly.