As many of you know by now, Piper is starting school tomorrow. I’m anxious and nervous about this big change but also worried about how I’ll manage to get all 3 (soon!!) of us ready and out of the house by 8:20am 3 days a week! So I asked 12 working mamas to share their morning routines and I LOVED reading all of their tips and schedules. This is a long post, but it’s worth the read!
Name: Megan Elizabeth of Art by Megan
Kids + Ages: daughter, age 6
What time do you get up? 6:30 and snooze a little bit.
What time do you need to be out the door? need to be AT school by 8am.
Get myself dressed first, then help the little lady work through her fashion emergencies. :) For me, it’s usually easy to get dressed because I have a “painting uniform” of clothing that I can get messy while working at the studio. On days with meetings or fancier events, I make sure to shower the night before to limit morning to-dos.
Then, walk and feed dog (Frank, the beagle) and little lady can eat breakfast on the walk sometimes.
Other times, eat first, then walk dog, then get all the school gear ready to go and leave apartment. Take the train to school, drop off, mom gets coffee or takes train / walks home or to studio and starts the day!
Pop-tarts, jk, but I wish. We almost always have a smoothie or cereal with almond milk. It’s fast and easy and doesn’t take too much time to prepare.
Do EVERYTHING the night before…
Pack lunch the night before. Lay out clothing the night before. Put shoes, backpack and a note reminding us of anything special or unique by the door. Make a morning checklist for older kids!
Location: Sun Prairie, WI
Kids + Ages: Mason, 13; Reid, 3
What time do you get up? Between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. during the school year (yes, I go to bed early — ideally by 9:00 or 9:30 p.m.)
What time do you need to be out the door? During the school year, 7:15 a.m.
I’ve been exercising early in the morning since Mason, my oldest, was a baby. I’m separated from my husband and going through a divorce, so right now I live in an apartment and we share custody of our kids 50/50. If it’s a morning I don’t have the boys, I go the clubhouse and use the exercise facility — usually free weights or a cardio routine. If I have the boys, I exercise in my bedroom. I have a kettlebell, resistance bands, and a stability ball. I’ve Pinned a bunch of exercises on Pinterest, so I never get bored! I jump in the shower around 5:30. At 5:45, I wake Mason up. Even though he doesn’t NEED to be up that early, he’s a kid who needs to take his time getting ready in the morning — he doesn’t like to rush. After he showers, he makes his own breakfast. Then he makes his own lunch and makes sure his backpack is ready.
After I wake Mason up I continue getting ready (makeup, hair). Mason usually wakes Reid up between 6:00 and 6:30. We used to wait until 6:45, but that’s just not enough time for him. Like Mason, he needs a bit of time to wake up and move at his own pace. It’s better for everyone. :-) We are at the tail-end of potty-training, so I usually make sure to get Reid on the toilet right away. Then he either snuggles in my bed while I finish getting ready, plays in the living room, or hangs out with his brother.
At 7:00, I help Reid get dressed and the boys brush their teeth together in the bathroom (Reid used to resist brushing his teeth, but if he sees big brother do it, he wants to do it, too). While they do that, I pour my coffee, fill my water bottle, and make sure Reid’s bag is ready for preschool. Mason is also great about helping Reid get his shoes on — they “race” to see if they can get their shoes on before I’m done with my coffee and water bottle duties. It helps Reid to stay motivated to get out the door! We need to leave at 7:15 so that I can drop Mason off at middle school and Reid off at preschool before I head into work.
This is obviously an ideal day, and sometimes we win in all categories. Other days Reid is cranky, Mason is putzy, or something just goes horribly awry. We deal with it as it comes.
I love green smoothies. I make one the night before and drink it post-workout while I’m getting ready. My favorite is spinach, unsweetened almond milk, banana, 1/4 of an avocado, 1/8 cup rolled oats, strawberries, and fresh pineapple. Mason is a non-traditional breakfast kid. Sometimes he’ll eat yogurt, but a lot of times he’ll make himself a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of Easy Mac. Occasionally he’ll even eat some turkey slices with string cheese. Reid eats breakfast at preschool. He does like to drink a cup of milk shortly after he gets up. If he’s really hungry, he’ll snack on a piece of string cheese or graham crackers in the car on the way to preschool.
I know this sounds weird, but the best way I save time is to GIVE the boys time. They both lose their minds if they feel rushed. I’ve learned they need to start their days on their own terms, and that means a little chill time. Of course this means it’s more important for them to get in bed at a decent time the night before, but it’s worth it. Otherwise we have crankiness and meltdowns, and that just prevents us from getting out the door. Plus then I get to spend more time with them, too.
Name: Katie Santanello
Location: Southern California
Kids + Ages: Olive Santanello (22 months) and another baby girl due December 4th.
I don’t have to get the new baby “ready” for school, but as you know, being pregnant can definitely complicate the normal routine.
What time do you get up? 6:45
What time do you need to be out the door? 8:00
I have two different morning routines that vary by week and my work demands. I either work at a satellite office close to home or I go into L.A. on the train, which takes an hour. Both are similar except I get to do my make-up and hair on the train, which allows me to sleep in for an extra 20 minutes….yay!
My “morning routine” actually starts the night before. I prep my work outfit the night before (down to my undies, jewelry, “commuter shoes” and heels packed in bag), pack my work bags (laptop, phone, badge, dry snacks) and I set out my car keys, which ALWAYS seem to be hiding in the morning. I layout my lunch and breakfast in the fridge. I layout my daughters clothes the night before in her room, pack her school bag, prep all food and lay out her hair accessories in dining room.
My breakfast typically includes granola bar and yogurt in my purse to eat at my desk. I also prep black tea with fat free milk, pumpkin pie spice, honey and vanilla to drink at work. Olive’s breakfast typically consists of wheat flakes (Natures Path, Flax Plus Flakes are her fave) with milk and fruit or wheat toast with almond butter with fruit.
Prep everything you can ahead of time. Even though my husband and I are exhausted at the end of each work day and want to crash and veg out right after we put Olive to bed at night we force ourselves to prep everything for the next day. It makes for a more relaxing morning for everyone. One of my goals is to start doing more weekly prep, such as getting all outfits for the week and staple food items ready on Sundays, to help make prepping after work more minimal.
Another great tip is finding some quick and simple “go to” hair styles for yourself that you can complete in less than 10 minutes in the morning. There are so many on YouTube and Instagram and it really just takes a little practice to get efficient.
Name: Connie Wong
Location: SF Bay Area, CA
Kids + Ages: Kate, 2 years
What time do you get up? I’m usually out of bed by 7:10AM latest or when Kate wakes up, whichever is first.
What time do you need to be out the door? 7:50AM (if it’s a drop-off month)
7:00AM – I’m a light sleeper, so I usually wake up when my husband gets up around 6:45AM, but don’t get out of bed until 7 (unless Kate wakes up early). I am NOT a morning person.
7:10AM – If Kate hasn’t raced into our room by now, I get up and get dressed. If Kate is already up, we’re usually saying our good mornings, maybe getting a snuggle in (if she woke up before 7am) and then heading back to her room to choose her outfit for the day. (She’s starting to pick out her own clothes i.e. her tutus, so instead, I’ll give her a couple choices.) My husband is usually finished getting ready by now, and will take over getting her dressed and her teeth brushed. During this time, I’ll pop downstairs to pack up her lunch and put it in the car, along with my purse; then, I’ll get dressed and start getting ready. After he’s finished, I’ll pop back in to brush and do her hair for the day. This time is usually when we give her some screen time on her iPad for the day, just because it speeds up the getting ready process.
7:30AM – My husband leaves for work, and I’m usually just finishing up putting on any makeup.
7:35AM – We o downstairs by this time to make Kate breakfast. I also make coffee, and either 1) throw it in a travel mug or 2) swing back home to drink it after I drop her off. (I’m lucky in that I work for myself, so coffee + breakfast can wait until after drop-off, if needed.) Her breakfast goes in a container and she will eat it when she arrives.
7:40AM – I aim to get shoes on around this time, and usually, let Kate choose her shoes for the day. I’ve learned that it’s usually just quicker to bring a back-up pair of shoes for her to change into later, if she picks something that’s not super play friendly (i.e. ballet flats, etc.). Getting her into her car seat either goes 1) super smoothly or 2) really slowly (i.e. she wants to do everything herself or doesn’t want to sit in it at all). If the latter, I usually let her know that the sooner we leave, the sooner she gets to have breakfast with her bestie, which works about 50% of the time (I’ll take it!).
7:50AM – We leave the house and are off!
Coffee for me. Pancakes, eggs or waffles usually for Kate.
Pack up everything you need the night before. I put all non-perishable items in the car (like extra clothes, diapers, etc.). I grab her lunchbox (we have a Pack-It, which I love because it’s essentially an ice-pack + lunchbox in one) and grab her stack of lunch items or her bento box.
Name: Jessica Hulse Dillon
Location: Alexandria, VA
What time do you get up? Between 6:30 and 7:15 (depending on if I am working from home that day, my commute time becomes extra sleep time) Lucy gets up between 530 and 7 (generally getting up earlier if its a day I can sleep in)
Our nanny share posse (the nanny and other family, arrive at 8. Lucy generally cuddles in bed for a little while and then is ready to go. She starts her day with her stories, whatever happens to be her favorite show at the time for 45ish minutes, while she has, “a cereal bar and a big girl aqua with a straw” said exactly the same way every morning. While she’s doing that with dad, I get up, shower and get ready as I have to be out the door by 7:15, on days I go to the office, and 8 on the days I work from home. If I am ready in time my husband will get ready and then take over again when I leave.
I take my breakfast to work with me, it generally consists of greek yogurt with a spoonful of blueberry jam and topped with quiona granola at the office, and a big jar of cold brew that I sip all morning. Lucy, and her nanny share buddy have breakfast when the nanny arrives. I have found that by making a week’s worth of egg frittatas, in muffin cups, along with frozen pancakes their breakfast is taken care of. Sometimes the nanny surprises them by making banana muffins or arepas. In the winter I will make a batch of crockpot oatmeal that then gets warmed up. Having breakfast pre-made makes mornings so much less stressful.
Location: Severna Park, MD
Kids + Ages: 2 boys – 1 and 4 years old
What time do you get up? Between 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM
What time do you need to be out the door? Between 7:30 AM and 7:45 AM
My boys are early risers so I am very rarely up before them. I usually dress the 1 year old and have a game with my 4 year old on who can get dressed faster! He loves run into his room and get dressed before his brother.
I also don’t argue with my 4 year old on his outfit choices. He’s very independent. As long as it weather appropriate he is free to pick out his outfit for the day!
Brush teeth and then they can go watch a few minutes of cartoons in my bed!
Once both boys are dressed, I get them milk and put them in my bed with a cartoon on while I get ready. I usually shower and dry my hair at night so I don’t need much time in the morning. I usually only need about 10 minutes tops! My husband usually works out in the AM so he is usually getting back by the time the three of us are making our way downstairs.
We come downstairs – I grab a quick breakfast – Smoothie/toast with almond butter and make coffee and then I pack breakfast for the boys to take to daycare – usually something easy: fruit with frozen pancakes, yogurt, and string cheese. We keep it super simple!
The boys keep their shoes in a drawer near the door so they get the shoes out while I’m making my breakfast. My 4 year old puts on his own shoes and I’ll go over and put my toddler’s shoes on right before we head out the door.
Right before we head out the door I apply their sunscreen (in the summer) and off we go!
Keep it simple and quick! My breakfast choices: Smoothie or Toast with Almond Butter. For the kids: Fruit with frozen pancakes, Yogurt If we have time! Eggs with a cheese stick and fruit
Allow your children to help and be independent! My mornings would be much more stressful if I was arguing with my 4 year old on an outfit! Keep it fun! Play music – we usually have our Alexa playing music while we are getting ready – it keeps it upbeat!
Name: Ashley Riddle
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Kids + Ages: Brooke, 8 – Brianna, 6 – Camden 2
What time do you get up? I get up at 6:30 am
What time do you need to be out the door? 8:00 am
6:30 – 6:45am – Wake up and make a cup of coffee. I set it all up the night before so I just have to click it on.
6:55 am – Take the dog for a quick walk (this is my quite time before the chaos)
7:10 am – Prep breakfast, put the finishing touches on the packed lunches, do a quick email check.
7:20 am – Wake up the kids, change the baby’s diaper, get breakfast served (make more coffee), clean up, get kids dressed (brush teeth, wash face, do fancy updos). My girls can get dressed and brush teeth on their own. I help them with their hair and it usually a crazy request ~ side braid with a messy bun, two pigtails that looks like fishtail braids, toppsytail, etc. I’ve spoiled them in the mornings with fun hairstyles! While the girls are getting dressed, I change my clothes, do a 5 minute makeup routine (I shower the night before) and get myself dressed. I will then dress my son.
7:50 am- Grab lunches, backpacks, work items and GO! Sometimes getting everyone in the car (and asking the kids 100018487983 times to put their shoes on) takes the longest!
Scrambled eggs with strawberries, Cheerios/milk or frozen waffles with syrup.
Pack everything the night before ~ set out vitamins, pack lunches (just need to add cold items and ice packs in the am), set out clothes for everyone (including myself), set all bags by the door. I try to do as much as I can in the evening to alleviate the chaos in the morning.
Name: Emma Ellison
Location: Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
Kids + Ages: Ruby, aged 3; baby #2 will be showing up any day now.
What time do you get up? 6:30-6:45 depending on how much I want to straighten my hair (and how long I scroll through Instagram)
What time do you need to be out the door? 8:15 latest, 8 is ideal
I am lucky that my daughter sleeps later than I do so I have time to get ready first. I’m a shower-at-night kinda girl so that leaves mornings just to fix up my hair, put on makeup and get dressed. I aim to do that by 7 and then I wake Ruby up.
Ruby is not a morning person so she needs the full hour to “wake up” before we leave the house. I bring her downstairs and she snuggles up on the couch while I make a quick coffee and pack my lunch. All the while I am asking her (multiple times) what she wants for breakfast.
As long as I’m drinking my coffee by 7:15 and she’s eating/drinking something at that same time, we are on track.
Here’s the best (hilarious/unconventional) part. Getting Ruby dressed. First of all she picks her own clothes and has done for the past year or so. I had to get over it at first (baby girl picks some really funny combinations) but now I just laugh it off and enjoy not having to think much about it. Secondly, to Ruby, Pj’s and clothes are interchangeable so most days she wants to continue wearing whatever she slept in. Again, had to get past it because I used to send her in adorable outfits and now it’s so random but it works for us. So all I have to do is get her in some clean undies and we’re good to go.
I tend to scarf down my breakfast while she’s slowly working on hers. Then I brush my teeth while giving her the 10 min warning (then the 5 min warning). I make sure to involve her in shoe choice and whatever cuddly toy she’s taking to school that day. Then I grab our bags and we’re out the door.
Worst case scenario – she’s having a rough morning and isn’t moving fast enough – a couple gummy bears will get her in the car in a snap (and honestly I don’t have to use that every day).
Me – cereal. Can’t break that habit.
Ruby – with toddlers, anything goes. As long as she’s eating I’m happy. I tend to offer yogurt or berries first but if she ends up asking for cheese and crackers I’m cool with it. Worst case scenario, as long as she’s at daycare by 8:30 they have a morning snack (breakfast food) there so that eases some of my worry.
Letting Ruby choose clothes has saved an insane amount of time. Looking back it was such a production trying to get her to wear what I wanted.
Name: Melissa Nuñez
Location: Oakland, CA
Kids + Ages: one son, Amory (22 months)
What time do you get up? We will sometimes hear our son as early as 6, and sometimes we have to wake him up a few minutes before 7, but as a rule we don’t go into his bedroom until 6:45am.
What time do you need to be out the door? Our goal (and granted this sometimes does not happen) is to be out the door by 7:45am.
We keep it very simple and we do the same thing every morning. My husband goes into my son’s room at 6:45, gets Amory out of his crib and gets him milk (which he asks for). Then he asks, “up please” to get into our bed and we sit in bed and watch the news while my husband uses the bathroom. Then when he’s out we switch, and I get ready in the bathroom. I don’t have time to do a full shower, hair wash, makeup, blow dry, in the morning so on days where I shower the night before I wear a bit more makeup and days where I shower in the morning I wear a bit less. I also have my son hang out with me in the bathroom while I’m brushing my teeth (he does it too) and he’ll sit on the floor and play with my makeup bag. There is no time to iron clothes so if I need something to be ironed I need to do it the night before. Then either my husband or I get my sons diaper changed, dressed, and shoes on and we are out the door! It’s fast and furious and the whole process takes just under an hour.
The lovely part of my sons daycare is that they feed him breakfast. I am very bad about eating breakfast before I leave the house. Sometimes I’ll grab a breakfast bar/banana or I’ll grab coffee to go (that we made the night before).
Have your routine be consistent. We do the same things every morning and all the items we need are in the same place- being organized and consistency are key!
Name: Paula Biermann
Location: Pasadena, MD
Kids, Age: 1 girl and she is 23 months
What time do you get up? I typically am up at 5am in order to have breakfast and coffee (me time) and then begin getting dressed. My daughter will wake up around 6. So by then I will have breakfast ready for her.
What time do you need to be out the door? We have to be out the door at 7:45 am.
Once my daughter is up at 6am, we will have breakfast and watch ( currently into Sesame Street). As bad as I feel giving her tv time, it’s a great distraction for her and forgets she is actually eating :). Once she is done. I will finish getting ready and change my daughter’s clothes as well. It’s easier to change her clothes if I am as well. We are going through imitating everything mommy does right now. So it helps! ** Sometimes I will change her as soon as she gets up. It does save time.
I have smart start cereal (love) and my daughter typically has scrambled eggs with strawberries.
Not so much to do in the morning but I save so much time if I prep my daughter’s lunchbox and mine the night before. That typically saves me 15 minutes to enjoy our mornings together and talk about the adventure that awaits us that day!
Name: Natasha Moyo
Location: Johannesburg South Africa
Kids + Ages: 2 years old and 7 months old
What time do you get up? 5:00 am
What time do you need to be out the door? 7:30 am
I wake up at 5am and go straight for the shower and do my makeup. Takes me 30 minutes
At 5:30 am I wake my 7 month old baby for nursing if she is not awake yet, I spend about 45 minutes with her nursing, freshening her up and get a bit of playtime
6:15 am I wake my 2 year old and get her ready for daycare, bath, feed her breakfast and dress her up- the process takes me about 45 minutes to an hour.
At 7:00 am I dress myself for work and use the few minutes left to get the girls interacting with each other, most days we have time for a short Storytime or music
7:30 we are out the door!
The above routine works 905 % of my days, as long as no one is ill and there are no uncontrollable surprises. My kids are sleep trained too so it makes it easier to have a routine like this as I am not a sleep deprived mom on most days. I have a full time job so I have had to make it work and it gets more efficient with practice.
Cereal, Oats or plain Yoghurt for me and my 2 year old daughter. My 7 month old nurses from me before I go then gets baby cereal around 9 am
Prepare clothes and pack bags the night before, most importantly stick to your daily routine, kids thrive on routine and it will make your life easier.
Name: Samantha Schifano
Location: Chatham, NJ
Kids + Ages: Eleanor, 3, Sloane, 6 months and our dog, Murphy, 10
What time do you get up? This is a loaded question – my alarm goes off as early as 5:30 some days! How many times I snooze depends on how late I stayed up or how tired I am!
What time do you need to be out the door? I work in a school year-round, so from September through June I need to be out the door no later than 7:00 a.m. most days, sometimes earlier depending on the day! But luckily July and August is more relaxed and I aim to leave my house by 8:00 a.m..
Picture ‘The Running of the Bulls’..Now you have a good idea of my house in the morning – I wish I could say I wake up, do 10 minutes of mindful awareness and have a few moments to myself before the kids wake, but that just ain’t me. I snooze until I know I will be on the brink of lateness, but what’s the morning rush without the rush? I am usually awoken before my snooze can even work by Sloane crying in her crib for her morning bottle, so I drag myself out of bed to feed her. Luckily, Sloane always wants to snooze a little longer after her morning feeding so I can return her to her crib. At that point, I am tempted to return to my warm sheets and curl up and go back to sleep for two more days. But alas, I know the threenager will be up soon and without fail, she is always starving the minute she gets out of bed. So I set up a bowl of cereal at her place setting with some fresh fruit, pour some OJ into a glass (can’t forget the paper straw) and I set a little pitcher of milk beside it (she loves pouring the milk in herself). I turn the tv on to PJ Masks or Paw Patrol (the obsession is real in our house). I make some warm water with lemon, take an ACV shot, swallow my vitamins and then I run upstairs. If she isn’t awake yet, I open her blinds to gently wake her, we do a quick potty, teeth brushing, bed making and change from our pjs. I then let her go downstairs on her own to eat breakfast and I quickly hop in the shower, change and rub a little tinted moisturizer over my face (Beautycounter’s Dew Skin SPF 20 is a miracle worker). I make my bed and finally wake our dog up who loves to sleep more than I do. Downstairs once more, I let Murphy outside, Eleanor will put food in his bowl and I will change Sloane and put her in her car seat so she’s ready to go. Inevitably, there is spilled milk on the floor that I need to swipe up and Eleanor can’t decide what shoes she wants to wear that day, so I’m hustling her as fast as I can. But you know three year olds, they are not fast. And just when we are about to leave, I remember the dog is still outside. I run and let Murphy back in, pick up the thousand bags I need to bring to my car, along with Sloane in her car seat, and push Eleanor out the door. Depending on the day, I drop them off at either my mother-in-law’s house or my mom’s house and the grandmothers’ take it from there (from preschool drop off to speech classes to feeding Sloane her solids, I am so fortunate and grateful to have them taking care of the girls while Dad and I are at work!). On really good, productive mornings, I have time to do a quick work out (we just got a Peloton, game changer!), sit down and feed Sloane some solids or even throw a load of laundry in! On really unproductive, late mornings, I put the girls in the car in their pajamas, give a banana to Eleanor, tell myself I am not a bad mom and that tomorrow is a new day. Because it is! This ebb and flow of motherhood is crazy – my husband and I have a family motto, “embrace the chaos.” It’s the only way to stay sane.
Cereal, Fruit or Yogurt, and OJ for Eleanor, a bottle for Sloane and a smoothie for me (I make smoothies the night before and leave a post-it on the door as a reminder to grab it from the fridge). I also am a Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee groupie and get one every morning on my way into work after I drop the girls.
Pick out everybody’s clothes the night before and make sure your bags are packed with what you need for the next day! During the girls’ bedtime routines, I lay Sloane’s clothes out on her changing table and let Eleanor help pick what she will wear the next day and lay it out on her chair. Before I go to bed, I pick my clothes out and lay them out (underwear, shoes and all) and sometimes I even think of backups in case of weather or mood changes! I also make sure my work bag, schoolbags, and any other items (diapers, etc) I need to drop off with them are packed up and ready to be picked up as we are walking out the door.
Image by Anna Reynal