making mornings work

Mornings are tough around here these days.  It’s always a challenge to get all 3 of us dressed and fed and out the door on time, and Natalie has added some new fun to the mix by occasionally deciding to sleep in for the first time in her life.  Several people have asked me what things we’re doing to make the weekday mornings work for us, and the truth is that I really don’t have any innovative solutions.  Pretty much, we scramble like mad from 5:30 until 6:15 when Mike is out the door, and then I continue scrambling until 6:45 when I pack Natals up for daycare and speed on down the road.  So far, we’ve made it work every day of this school-year, which is no small feat.  I’m just waiting for the inevitable sick days and snowy roads that will get in the way of our pretty flawless track record, but in the meantime we are plugging away.
A few things that have helped us out along the way are:
– Packing lunches for all 3 of us the night before.  We take turns packing Natalie’s food so it doesn’t feel like such a chore for one person, and we make ourselves get our lunch boxes ready, too.
– Set out clothes the night before.  Sensing a theme?  Anything we can do before the pre-dawn alarm clock helps us make it out on time.  Clothes for all 3 of us are out and ready to go by Nat’s bedtime.
– We get to bed early.  It has been a rather depressing transition from summer bedtime to school bedtime, but it is keeping us sane.  We do a little racing around between the end of the day and Nat’s bath, and then settle in for a bit of quality couple-time before conking for the night by 9:30.
– Giving ourselves a little cushion of time.  We have a window to work with when it comes to daycare departure time, which means that if Natalie is ready to go we have the reward of some quality time in the front seat with me while we wait for daycare to open, and if she’s running late then I just have to do a drop and dash.  She much prefers the former, which is a great coercion tool in the AM hours–“Don’t you want special time in the car with Mommy?”  
–  We meal-plan.  This one has been another toughie after a summer of free-livin’, but it is so much easier to turn on the crockpot in the morning and come home to a meal than start cooking after being on my feet all day.  We cook more on the weekends and enjoy leftovers during the week, and rely on the crockpot a TON.
– We use the weekend for cleaning, and have learned to accept a messier way of living.  In truth, we have become pretty good about doing little things each day to keep the household running smoothly (garbage/compost/vacuum/laundry/toy box/etc.) and then just force ourselves to devote a weekend morning to a mad dash of scrubbing.  And that’s it.  We start the week with what we’ve got, and have chosen that dirty floors are preferable to a night without toddler-snuggles.  
What things are you doing to make workday mornings run more smoothly??  I’m looking for any tips you have!

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