By Rebecca Alwine, Army Spouse

We’re on day 8 of back to school in my house, and we’ve made some changes this year. We moved this summer, which means a new house and new school district. It also means both of my kids are attending the same school! They get to ride the bus, and it comes at 7:05 am.

The summer was full of change, sometimes late nights, and rare mornings where they slept past 7 am. Things were going to change. Instead of working up to the early morning wake up, we just went for it. The first day of school, wake up at 6:30 am and off we go.

Mornings in the house are a little hectic. A toddler, two elementary school kids, the dog that really wants to accompany us to the bus stop, and of course, my spouse has already been at work for 3 hours by this point. So I quickly figured out that planning the night before was essential. Here are my tips:

Do as much as possible the night before.

I know this sounds super simple, but it makes a huge difference. Our bedtime routine starts before dinner with preparation for the next morning. We do the following every night, and it really helps.

  • Homework check – I’ve never allowed homework to be completed in the morning. There simply isn’t time for that. But before we move into dinner one of us checks homework, reads through the papers from school and signs the agenda.
  • Pick out clothes – This has eliminated all fights about clothes and “I don’t have any socks!” conversations. Well, we now fight over clothes in the evening instead of at 6:30 am.
  • Do chores – Last year my kids had plenty of time to do chores in the morning before school. Not this year, so I make sure they have done their chores before dinner in preparation for the next day.
  • Pack backpacks – I had to stick to this the other day when someone was missing a book, and they couldn’t find it. Oh well, off we go without it.
  • Prepare breakfast – My kids are very into overnight oats right now, so they make their breakfast the night before.
  • Prep lunches – I lay out the Tupperware and the non-perishables on the counter, so I have a quick assembly line of lunches. Add the sandwich, cheese, and fruit or vegetable, and I minimize the number of trips I’m making to the pantry.
  • Talk about any changes – If there are changes to the schedule for the next day; we talk about them at dinner. That way there are no surprises or last minute directions in the morning.

Make a plan and stick to the routine.

My children thrive on routines and schedules. It’s one of the things that makes summer and weekends so challenging. The first morning they were so excited I think they would have eaten broccoli for breakfast. Now that we’re almost two weeks in, the routine has become second nature. They get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and the mornings run quite smoothly.

If something doesn’t work, or you have an “off” morning, just alter the plan until it fits what you need. I had no idea if we could do everything in 30 minutes in the morning. But it’s working. And a morning with no tears, no yelling, and everyone happy as they board the bus is totally worth a little prep work ahead of time.

We’re not quite a well-oiled machine, but we’re running pretty organized over here. With a little planning, you can too! What’s your back-to-school secret for reducing the stress in the morning?

AuthorRebecca Alwine is a PCSgrades’ Blogger Affiliate, freelance writer, army wife, and mother of three. Over the past 10 years, she’s discovered she enjoys coffee, running, lifting weights, and most of the menial tasks of motherhood. Her writing experience includes military family topics, research pieces, guest blogging, and much more. She’s a contributing writer for ARMY Magazine, a regular contributor for several publications including to Homefront United Network, PCSgrades, ESME, and has also been published in Ms. Magazine and The Atlantic. You can follow her online at or on Twitter (@rebecca_alwine) and Instagram (@rebecca_alwine).