For most moms, mornings are a mad dash to get everyone up, dressed and out the door -- if your kid's shoes match, all the better. However the a.m. hours don't always have to be so hectic (we promise). Try just one of these tips tomorrow and you'll start to feel (almost) serene.
Bathe in the evening
The more tasks you can knock off before hitting the sack, the easier your morning will be, says Lynn Cutts, PhD, author of Change One Habit, Change Your Life. It's a philosophy that Abena Foreman-Trice, mom of three, from Waynesboro, Virginia swears by. Her time-saver: she has her kids hit the showers in the evening. "In the morning, all my children have to do is get dressed, eat and brush their teeth," she reports. "They even have a little leisure time so that they don't feel hurried when they are leaving the house." If you really want to streamline the early-hour action, why not get your own shower out of the way, too?
Lay out complete outfits
To prevent that panicked search for that other shoe, have everyone (including you and your husband) pre-select entire outfits for the next day -- including clothes, accessories, socks, and shoes -- before going to bed.
Steal time for yourself
You need to feel serene in order to set a calm tone for the rest of your gang. "Set your alarm clock 15 minutes early and make a point of having a few minutes of quiet time to breathe and meditate or just have a cup of coffee," says Cutts. "That move gets you centered and ready to deal with what's about to erupt."
Save the dates
Hang it in your kitchen, or by your front door, suggests Cutts. Then have older kids and your husband write anything relevant in it; you can handle the job for you and your little ones. Having a big reminder that you have to pick your 8-year-old up at soccer practice, for example, or dress your preschooler in school colors will ease that nagging feeling you're forgetting something. And it eliminates surprises like "By the way, I need to bring in brownies today!"
Make breakfast a no-brainer
Feel guilty about feeding your kids cold cereal? No need to. Nutritionists say it's packed with plenty of vitamins and minerals, and did we mention it's quick? To make it even quicker, you can follow Marietta, Georgia mom Alison Ilg's lead and set the table, complete with cereal boxes, the night before. Another brilliant idea: Put cereals in see-through containers, suggests professional organizer Elaine Bloom, of Maplewood, New Jersey. "That way you can see when you're about to run out," she explains, "and replenish so you don't find there's nothing to eat in the morning."
Leave backpacks by the door
Make sure your kid's book bags are filled up, zipped, and ready to go. "Before my kids turn in for the night, I check their backpacks to see that everything is in order, then put them by the front door so they aren't forgotten on the way out," says Laurie Hurley, a Newbury Park, California mother of two. "We don't have any panic attacks two minutes before leaving for school that homework is still sitting on the desk."
Don't try to be Super Mom
Take a good look at your morning to-do list. If something doesn't require immediate attention, try tackling it at a less stressful time. Maybe that means making the beds after lunch, or doing the morning dishes in the evening when you get home from work. Don't worry about being a slacker. The truth is, if you get everyone out the door with a smile on your face, and remember that all-important kiss goodbye, you're already Mom of the Year.
Lisa Bova is a writer, editor and mom from Larchmont, New York who constantly strives to make her mornings stress-free.