Organized Mornings & The Myth of “The Night Before”

Organized mornings… is that an oxymoron or what? What family has “organized mornings”? Not mine… and no one I know of! Of course I’d like to change that. The conventional wisdom suggests that you should get everything ready for the morning during “the night before.” But hold on… that’s supposed to be family time too, right?  And time for the kids to go to sports practices? And maybe some time in there for mom and dad to reconnect?

How are we supposed to do all of that… “the night before”? My answer: don’t! At least not everything, every night. Here are some tips I’ll be giving a spin this year to make mornings and “the night before” more manageable.

Organized Mornings

Making Lunches

Lunch making is something that my family generally does tackle during evenings and I have a few simple tips to make making lunches easier:

  • Batch up anything you can (e.g. bagging snacks, cutting fruit…) Prepare as many days of those foods as you can in advance.
  • Let the kids help. So I know that “kids helping” is possibly another oxymoron. But my argument in favor of letting them help is to think about what they would be doing instead. In my house they would be making messes (aka another job for mom), fighting, and otherwise distracting me from making said lunches.
  • Get your hubby to help!  Yep… I said it. Mine helps and yours can too!

Clothing Organizer

This year the kids clothes will be picked out a week in advance. A shoe organizer in our coat closet will hold 5 days worth of outfits for both of our children. This will be one less thing to worry about during the night before!


The Dishwasher & My New Plan

I’m the type of person who can’t function in a messy kitchen. Sometimes it’s the only clean place in my otherwise kid-infested home. I faithfully run my dishwasher every night, and empty it every morning in an effort to minimize the dirty dish backlog. I sure would love to wake up to an already empty dishwasher so that breakfast dishes could slip right in. However, adding this chore to “the night before” routine is not in my plans. Because I work from home, this year I’m going to try to run the dishwasher during the day, and empty it before making dinner.

What’s for Breakfast? Oatmeal!

There are so many great reasons to eat oatmeal! The regular ole “Old Fashioned” kind works great for us and we eat so much of it that we buy it in bulk! I know… you’re shaking your head saying “my kids won’t eat that.” Just so you know, our oatmeal isn’t exactly unadulterated! There are tons of different ways to use oatmeal, but here are a few of my favorite:

  • Regular Oatmeal – With  brown sugar, peanut butter added, a few mini chocolate chips and sprinkles! Hint:  I always make a quadruple batch of oatmeal and refrigerate the leftovers to eat for the next few days!
  • High Protien Pumpkin Pancakes –  Hint: Make a big batch of these on the weekend and refrigerate and/or freeze the leftovers to eat during the week!
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Breakfast Bars – These are a great non-processed, grab and go option.

The Backwards Morning Schedule

During school mornings I feel that it would be more appropriate for my kids to address me as “Mrs. Ring Master” rather than “Mommy.” On good days, our mornings feel perfectly orchestrated, and this is by design. I have these little milestone times in my head that let me know whether or not our morning is on track. Because I come up with these times in a backwards sort of way, I’ll share it that way too!

  • 9:00 – Second drop-off
  • 8:15 – First drop-off
  • 8:00 – Actually leave the house
  • 7:50 – Load the car
  • 7:40 – Brush teeth and get shoes on
  • 7:30 – Kids get dressed, I tidy kitchen
  • 7:00 – Kids eat breakfast while I assemble lunch boxes
  • 6:40 – Kids wake up
  • 5:50 – I get up, have coffee, work on budget, and get ready

The Ride Home Pep Talk

To avoid the inevitable splatter around the house of backpacks, lunch boxes, and shoes that seems to occur when we get home from school, I always remind my kids of what I expect from them while we are still in the car. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “Evan… what do you need to do when we get inside”

Evan: “Wash my hands and put my shoes away”

Me:  “And where do your backpack and lunchbox go?”

Evan: “In the kitchen”

Me: “Right”

Evan:  “And then I can have gummy snacks and a show, right?”

Me: “Yep”

This conversation happens EVERY DAY, not just during the first week of school. (For school-aged kids I would also bring up when homework will be done during the car ride.) Although I feel like a broken record, this little chat helps to further reduce the burden on “the night before.”


This will be our first year at big kid school so I’d love to hear your tips on making school mornings easier too!



Megan Johns
Megan grew up in rural central Florida building forts and feeding cows with her 3 younger sisters. Her youth led Megan to believe in the amazing power of female ingenuity and to put a high value on positive and supportive interaction among ladies and girls. As a graduate of the University of Florida Mechanical Engineering program, Megan moved to Jacksonville to pursue a career with a bio-medical device company and to begin a wonderful life with her amazing husband Patrick. During her years working as an engineer, Megan developed an interest in photography. When she put her career on hold to take on the hardest job a person could love (Mommy to Evan 5 and Lilla 3), she discovered her love of "life" style photography as seen at Megan Johns Photography. Megan carries her camera everywhere and sometimes refers to it as her "third child!"


    • I also thought it was brilliant!!! I just absolutely LOVE the idea that they took a hanging cloth shoe organizer and put 5 days worth of outfits in it!! That would be PERFECT to use for my 8yo so he can get dressed HIMSELF and doesn’t have to worry about whether his clothes match or changing his clothes 3 different times when they DON’T match.. LOL!! And it saves him pissing me off because he argues with me and throws a BIG ASS FIT about how they DO match when they DON’T!

  1. We do peanut butter oatmeal, too! And our morning routine is taped to the wall in 4 places in the house a week before school starts this year. We’re already practicing. After school routine will go up on Monday

  2. I’ve tried experimenting with the dishwasher/overnight thing…Honestly, I know that my morning-self would LOVE to have empty sink & empty dishwasher in the mornings and often curses my evening-self for dumping all that on me. I’ve tried your plan of loading the dishes as I’m cooking dinner and leaving it sit for the breakfast dishes…but, despite rinsing, the dishwasher ended up smelling just foul by morning load. I’ve gone back to doing it the other way around and hand washing what didn’t fit (that’s the best treat my evening-self can muster giving my morning-self at this point).


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