Beat Morning Mayhem!

With school now underway, some families are still struggling in the morning to get the kids out on time and in good shape. The secret to surviving morning chaos lies in what gets done the night before! Here are some great tips to make you and your child start your day out right.

- Have the kids pick their clothes before they go to bed. Lay out the entire outfits, including shoes and accessories.

- Do an inventory of the kids' school bags. Have them organize any papers that were not filed in notebooks. Read, sign, and return correspondence or permission slips to the school. Have the kids make sure they have returned all books and homework to their backpacks before they go to bed. These should be placed by the door.

Check your monthly family organizer/calendar for after-school activities and prepare special knapsacks with sports shoes, equipment, uniforms, or sportswear. Also have these ready by the door.

- Make sure your kids prepare all their things themselves if they are old enough - you can always do a double check once they are in bed.

- In the wintertime, have a special shelf or bin for mitts, hats, and scarves so these are not misplaced throughout the house.

- Pack and plan the kids' lunches the night before. Non-perishables such as cookies, snacks, and drinks can be packed ahead. Leave only the perishables until the next morning.

Create a morning routine for your children to help keep them on track. For younger children, you can create a picture chart. A checklist works best for older kids.

- Keep electronic distractions off in the morning: no television, no iPods, no computers, or electronic games.

- Have your kids decide what they want to eat for breakfast the night before and set the breakfast table. That will be one less major decision to make in the morning.

Speaking of breakfast - how do you make a nourishing meal when mornings are so crazy? Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

Here are a few healthy suggestions!

- Breakfast Burrito: Roll up a scrambled egg along with some shredded cheese and salsa in a whole-wheat tortilla.

- Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie: In a blender, whip up some milk, yogurt and fresh fruit such as banana, peach, strawberries, or blueberries. This is a nutritious option for on-the-go breakfasts.

- Egg on a Muffin: Poach an egg over an English muffin with a slice of ham and melted cheese.

- Grilled Cheese: Make a grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat and serve with a bowl of fresh fruit and a glass of milk.

- Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich: Make this sandwich on whole wheat bread and pair it with a glass of milk.

Make sure that you and your kids get enough sleep each night. A good night's sleep makes everyone feel better and when everyone feels better, morning time runs smoother. You'll see, mornings will be a breeze in no time! And when you send your kids off - make sure you do so with a smile and a hug!

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