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Clean Ideas: Beating the Morning Rush

Ways to Keep Your Family on Track and on Time

A bit of preplanning will help keep the off-to-school morning rush from descending into chaos.

  1. Get a big calendar for the kitchen – one with enough space for writing appointments, school assignments and deadlines. Have evening reviews to make sure it is up to date.
  2. If you have the space, add a dry-erase board for special messages and reminders.
  3. Make it an evening ritual to empty those backpacks so notices and permission papers don't "disappear."
  4. Hang a clear vinyl shoe bag on the inside of the coat closet or in the back hall. Use it to store gloves, hats, car keys so there's no last-minute scrambling in the morning.
  5. Avoid the morning rush by packing lunches the night before. Sandwiches that don't have lettuce, tomatoes or mayonnaise can be frozen overnight. Choose coarse-textured bread, such as whole wheat, so the bread won't get soggy when it thaws. Food that can't be frozen should be refrigerated.
  6. Frozen, single-size juice packs can double as cold packs for your lunches. Although the juice will thaw by lunchtime, it will still be cold.
  7. More people than bathrooms? If everyone has to be up and out at the same time, consider a morning bathroom schedule. Encourage nighttime baths and showers.
  8. Stock up on breakfast-on-the-go foods for those mornings when everyone is late. Frozen waffles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, granola bars, bananas and apples can all be eaten on the way to school.
  9. Don't leave "what to wear" decisions until the morning. Post the weather forecast on your dry-erase board and make everybody choose their clothes before bedtime.
  10. Keep your cupboard stocked with handwipes, tissues and stain sticks so morning emergencies won't undermine your schedule.