Working Parent Morning Routine and Stress

Morning routines to set you up for success are all the rage these days and they are great. Getting up, stretching, making the bed, going for a run, drinking coffee, cooking a wonderful breakfast… Ah a blissful morning routine! I can see the doves descending and the brilliant sunshine cascading down in the background.

Morning routines can be stressful and exhausting. Here are our tips to help get you and your family out the door each morning stress free.The Perfect Morning Routine

With that in mind, I decided to write about how to have a morning routine to set you up for success. But then I started thinking… I have children. I parent little creatures of chaos that eat routines for…snack. There is no such thing as a perfect and successful morning routine.

We all like to think that way but in reality mornings are kind of like hell.  With little children, any sort of morning routine is almost thrown out the window. Someone will always spill their milk on their clothes, pee or poop their pants, and usually have a random meltdown prior to reaching the door.

Hence, your coffee is cold, the eggs are sitting on the counter not cracked open, you put on your yoga pants to go for a run but never made it there because someone peed all over you.

And thats all just before getting out of the house.

This is not to mention the fact you have to get them to the school without getting bodily fluids all over your suit, dress, or worse, in your hair. To be honest, I used to be exhausted and stressed out by the time I got to the work parking lot.


The American Psychological Association says that stress was up in 2011 44%. I can’t imagine the stats for today.

I’m not saying stress is due solely to morning routines and having children. Not at all. What I am saying is that going through the motions of a morning routine with small children is challenging and can start the day off with stress.

Rather than write about a successful morning routine I’m going to talk about tips to help get you out the door, to the school, and work without being stressed.

Because work is stressful enough.

  1. Have everyone’s clothes laid out the night before. In the past, trouble finding shoes, matching clothes, underwear, and jackets often made us late. We purchased a sweater organizer to lay out clothes for the week. In each pocket we put in everything needed to dress each child (shirt, socks, underwear, and pants.) We have purchased a big wire basket to leave at the front door so the kids can drop their shoes off  when they come in. This helps us know where to find them before we leave the house. If you have an upstairs, the cardio is nice but not at the cost of precious time!                                                                                                                                                                        
  2. If your kids are old enough, have a laminated checklist made of pictures that they can follow to make sure they complete all the tasks needed before leaving. Tasks such as brushing teeth and putting clothes on (because standing in front of the TV naked is not going to cut it!) are things you can begin with.
  3. Talk about lunches for the week and prepare lunches on Sunday. The night before or the morning of, you or the kids can grab their pre-made sandwich and strawberries and throw them into the lunch box for a reasonably healthy meal. Skip preparing the sandwich, washing and cutting the strawberries in a rush! Our kids love these storage bags!
  4. Don’t hit the snooze. The snooze button is not a magical wand nor has your cell phone mastered time freeze warp technology. Compounding a hectic morning with even less time is a terrible idea when you actually think about it. It’s not like you will slip back into a restorative REM cycle or anything!
  5. Have all homework in the book bag and the book bag on the hook ready for the next day. Or, have your pocket book or briefcase in a predetermined position ready to go. (Pro tip: If you know where it’s at, you won’t spend time looking for it.) Letter hooks are awesome to use for little kids. We use these so they can easily know which hook is theirs!                                                              
  6. My kids are super picky eaters. If we don’t discuss breakfast the night before, it can turn breakfast into “I don’t want that! It’s yucky!” Nobody has time to play “Wheel of Fortune Breakfast” each morning.
  7. Your morning routine will need to change, eventually. Work on incremental changes and forget trying to be super mom or super dad when it comes to kids. If you are sprinting and diving into your cubicle chair at work, focus on small incremental tweaks to win some of your time back. Maybe then you can at least not dive into your chair and can walk quickly over running the 40 yard dash. Even that is a win when you have kids!

We are just working parents like you all. We are far from perfect and we definitely don’t have it all together.

Before I started working for myself, my husband did most of this on his own. (Bless him.) If you were to ask him which of the things above were most helpful for him. He would by far pick number one.

We gave up on a perfect morning routine to set us up for success. What we did do was try to make morning run as smooth as possible and keep emotions in check. There is nothing worse than arriving at work with a bad attitude or already burned out from the morning routine. Our current goal for success is to have everyone on time without rushing. This simple goal helped diminish the amount of stress we all have in the mornings.

Sometimes, simpler is better. Instead of shooting for the moon when it comes to mornings, start simpler with these tips! Do you have any other tips?