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How The Grace Tales Team Organise Their Weekday Mornings



Let me be real for a moment - whilst researching tips on organisation for this article, I was completely overwhelmed (and somewhat spooked) at the lengths people go to for some form of organisation in their home when kids are involved. Dedicated “learning environments”, “command centres” and “launching pads” are all, to me, nice (albeit a little over the top) ideas, but ridiculously unnecessary...

As a mother of two, I know that organisation at home is key when kids are at school or daycare, racing to various activities and seem to accumulate more and more “stuff” as the years go on, but that doesn’t mean we all need to lose our heads. Sure, if space and money are no issues – go ahead and create a dedicated “hub” for every area of the kids’ lives, but that really isn’t a realistic option for every family. We all know that the reason mothers’ groups and sites like The Grace Tales resonate so deeply with mothers is because of the notion of sharing – sharing tips, advice, anecdotes and personal experiences, so with that in mind, I’m sharing how I keep my family organised amongst the school and life madness, and have asked Georgie and Amy from the team to do the same as we all juggle school kids, daycare drop-offs, work and this crazy thing called life.

 


Georgie Abay, founder of The Grace Tales

This is a picture that my daughter drew for me one morning after I’d asked her to put her shoes on, oh, around 2o times. She was right, I was frustrated. Since I became a mother, my mornings have greatly varied depending on how much sleep I’m getting. When my youngest was a baby, the only sleep I would get was from 6am-9am and so our morning began at 10am. These days, things are a tad easier, but only if I get up early. And even that doesn’t stop sibling fighting or just kids who get up grumpy – those are the mornings where at 9am I feel like I need to go back to bed. Sleeping-in for me (as much as I love it) goes hand-in-hand with a chaotic morning, which usually ends in me yelling. So here’s what happens in our house most mornings…


Describe a typical weekday morning in your household…

Most mornings, we’re in a good routine now (I say that and tomorrow will probably be a disaster and they’ll fight from the minute they get up). A few years ago, it was chaos and none of us slept. Now, the girls (mostly) sleep through the night. My husband is much better at mornings than I am, he naturally wakes up around 5am with no alarm clock. How on earth he does this, I’m not sure. We take turns in exercising and three times a week, I try and get up at 5am and do a boot camp. There are weeks where I won’t exercise at all (this week being one of them), but I feel better when I do. I’m not sure my fitness has improved all that much, but it’s great for my mental health. If I’m not exercising, it’s up at either 5am to work or 7am if I haven’t slept well and I get the girls dressed and ready for school. My husband is usually on breakfast and walks the dogs. Lunches are made the night before. I also try to make my green smoothie the night before, so the kitchen isn’t too chaotic. I use a food delivery service for my lunch as where my office is located, there are no good food options. It means I always have a healthy lunch packed and ready to go. It’s my little self-care indulgence. I have a quick shower, try and pull together a semi-coordinated outfit (I often fail at this), then it’s out the door to do drop-offs and into the office. I usually skip breakfast as I don’t really get hungry first thing in the morning unless I’ve exercised. I’ll grab a big soy cappuccino on the way to work and then have a green smoothie mid-morning.


How do you stay on top of the morning rush?

There are a few things that change everything for me. The first being to get up early. If I sleep in (7am), I’m always stressed and everything is harder. There’s nothing better than getting up at 5am and clearly, your inbox, ticking off those tasks you have put off, sorting out lunches and school bags, emptying the dishwasher, putting on a load of washing and the rest – all before the kids have even opened their eyes. If you don’t sleep through the night, and I didn’t for many years, then ignore the above and just get as much sleep as you can.

Another thing I’ve been doing lately is emptying the dishwasher before I go to bed – the less chaos in the morning, the better!  


Do you have any secrets/tips/hacks for a stress-free and organised morning?

-Get up early – it’s a game-changer. And actually, I read an interesting article about getting up early on Martha Stewart recently about people who get up earlier being happier. You can read it here.
-Pack your lunch/kids’ lunches the night before. I also try and make a smoothie the night before as well.
-If you can be bothered, do a quick tidy of the house before you go to bed – if you can’t grab a wine and sit in front of Netflix.
-My youngest is very opinionated about what she wore and every morning we’d clash over it. I’ve let go and now I let her put on whatever she wants. Cinderella? Elsa? Go for it. She’s the master of a pattern clash.


How do you/do you share the load in the mornings with your partner and kids - what are some tasks that can be easily delegated?

Mark walks the dogs, does the breakfast and usually drops our youngest at pre-school. I dress them, brush the hair (and deal with the screaming that comes with hair brushing), do lunches and get everyone out the door. Everyone is different, but this works for us. 
 


What piece of advice would you give to anyone struggling to find harmony and organisation in the mornings with kids?

Get up early – it is the only thing that will change your mornings. Get ahead of the day and control it. Don’t let the day control you. And also be ok with the fact that everyone finds the mornings a struggle. There are some mornings where I literally feel like I need to go back to bed. Usually, this is if the girls have been fighting a lot. It drives me insane.
 


Marisa Remond, editorial director

I like order and routine in most areas of my life,  but I’ll admit that two kids throw my inner control-freak ways into chaos most days. I approach the daily grind – school morning prep, daycare drop offs, getting myself ready and household chores – by keeping to a pretty strict schedule of what happens and when, and even if the wheels do fall off occasionally, at least I know that I’ve tried my best to eliminate disasters and make things run as smoothly as possible. 

While my ultimate piece of advice for any parent would be to wake up early, I know this is easier said than done when you factor in small babies who wake early themselves. I find getting up even 10 minutes before my kids do ensure that I get to dress, brush my teeth and indulge in a 5-minute skin and hair routine so I’m ready to race out the door as soon as necessary. When my kids do wake, often within 15 minutes of each other, I don’t waste much time getting everyone to start their day. This means I’m often making beds, helping them dress and doing hair all before 7 am. 

Here’s how I do it: 


Describe a typical weekday morning in your household...

Pretty chaotic! I find mornings harder to deal with when my husband is at work early, so I try to organise as much as I can ahead of schedule. Mondays to Wednesdays are usually the most crazy, as that is when I work, the kids have various activities and there is less time in general. Thursdays and Fridays are slightly more manageable and give us all a bit more wriggle room in terms of timing. 

My rule is no one can go downstairs to breakfast until everything is in order upstairs – beds made, rooms relatively clean, clothes on, hair done and teeth brushed. 


How do you stay on top of the morning rush?

I plan as much as I can! I do a big grocery shop for the week every Sunday, and this usually means I pre-wash and cut veggies for the lunch box and store in mesh or calico bags to keep fresh, and have a general idea of what will be for breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the week ahead. I then prep my daughter’s lunchbox the night before, with the exclusion of the sandwich or roll that is usually prepared first thing in the morning. 

For breakfast, I’m usually serving the kids various porridge/cereal or toast requests while unstacking the dishwasher and finishing the last of the lunchbox prep. I don’t sit and eat in the mornings, (I know, I know), as I can’t stomach food first thing in the morning. And truthfully? It would slow me down too much. I usually think of my own coffee and breakfast once the kids are out of the house. 


Do you have any secrets/tips/hacks for an stress-free and organised morning?

I created a “morning routine chart” for my daughter recently which is a basic word document with various clip art imagery and a step-by-step guide of what to do each school morning. It is stuck to her door and means she is now responsible for her own tasks – from the very simple going to the toilet, to the more elaborate helping make the bed and packing her own school bag. It has been a game-changer and I highly recommend this for any school mum! If you can’t be bothered with your own, you can actually download and buy ready-made ones online. 

My ultimate tip would also be to, very simply, get shit done. I don’t muck around in the mornings – my main aim is to get the kids fed and clean before leaving the house and that sometimes means sacrificing my own time and needs. I shower at night, prep outfits the night before and basically do everything that I can to make things run smoothly. I may not be a very fun mum or wife before 9 am but at least we have some order!


How do you/do you share the load in the mornings with your partner and kids - what are some tasks that can be easily delegated? 

I’m trying to give my daughter more responsibility now she is becoming more capable, but obviously, this is a work in progress. She dresses herself most mornings and I expect her to pack her own lunchbox and water bottle in her school bag. 

If my husband isn’t at work early, he’ll be sharing the load with me – that usually means dressing our son or making beds while I’m serving breakfast. He’ll also do the daycare drop off if time permits. We share both a digital and paper version of a family calendar and have reminders for most school events and activities – I’m pretty adamant that this shouldn’t solely be a woman’s responsibility whether they work or not. The admin side of being a school parent is no joke!


What piece of advice would you give to anyone struggling to find harmony and organisation in the mornings with kids? 

Whatever works! I’m a control freak who suffers from anxiety (don’t I sound fun?) so for me, being organised is a must. I don’t think anyone benefits from being super relaxed in the mornings. If I want some order in the house it means everyone needs to be on board with helping out and sticking to a schedule, but please don’t be fooled into thinking this sounds too good to be true. Most mornings we have the TV on for our son after breakfast, who needs serious distraction before the daycare drop off and someone is usually in tears by 8 am – at times, that someone is me. There is nothing easy about mornings with kids, but having a routine and setting expectations definitely helps. 


Amy Malpass Hahn, editor-in-chief

With three young children, any time of the day is chaotic. Add the never-ending to-do lists of the morning, and it can be a recipe for disaster. Which is why I like to make my mornings as stress-free as possible, by doing as much as I can in advance. In theory, when all the lunches have been pre-packed, the clothes have been laid out and the breakfasts are organised, then our mornings can be spent focused on coffee, crayons and conversation. (Who am I kidding? Coffee and cartoons. But better than no coffee and many meltdowns, I say.)


Describe a typical weekday morning in your household..

Thankfully (or perhaps cursedly) everyone in our household is an early bird. So by 6am, everyone will be dressed, fed and essentially ready to go. Yes, in the hour (or sometimes two) that come before 6am, I am usually running around like an absolute headless chicken, but I feel so much better when everything is done. Beds are made, the house is tidy (for now), the kids are dressed, I’m showered, and I can breathe knowing that everyone is relatively happy before the sun is up.

While this does mean we minimise morning battles, it also means we have THREE FULL HOURS until school time to kill. That’s half a school day! So in those hours, my kids will generally create 234 pieces of mediocre artwork, eat 7 breakfasts of declining nutritional value and watch 24 episodes of Peppa Pig. Yes, I resort to screen time because my neighbours don’t love me when I send the kids out to the trampoline at 6:15 am. I’m so excited when it’s time to pile everyone into the car or the pram for school that sometimes I even leave an hour early and take the very, very long way there. Coffee and babycinos along on the way are a must. 


How do you stay on top of the morning rush?

I pack all lunchboxes the night before and have the school bags, hats, water bottles, homework and outfits ready to go in one spot in the morning (each child has their own chair of stuff) so it’s a reasonably seamless process. I even lay out Weet-Bix in bowls the night before to minimise what I need to do before caffeine kicks in. 


Do you have any secrets/tips/hacks for an stress-free and organised morning? 

The Nespresso machine and pre-planning. I unstack the dishwasher, put on the washing and make lunches the night before simply so there’s less for me to do the next day. And despite what I said about screen time, I do start out with the best of intentions by putting on some relaxing music in the morning to ease into the day, rather than having an assault of the senses courtesy of ABC Kids before sunrise. 


How do you/do you share the load in the mornings with your partner and kids - what are some tasks that can be easily delegated?

I’m not known for my delegation abilities but I do take a lovely passive-aggressive approach that seems to do the trick. For example, leaving the garbage bags right by the door or responding to my children’s repeated requests by saying, “Maybe just ask Daddy for that because he has two arms too! See?!” In all seriousness, my five-year-old does make his own bed and puts the breakfast bowls into the dishwasher, and I’m working on upskilling him to putting the washing on the line. For now, I find it’s easiest just to do things myself than to bother asking someone else (and just by writing this, I know I need to change it …). 


What piece of advice would you give to anyone struggling to find harmony and organisation in the mornings with kids? 

You’re not alone! Don’t fool yourself into thinking that anyone has their life under control. We’re all just here doing our best. And remember, when your children are little, there’s so much that’s simply about survival. So if that means downing an espresso shot and resorting to Disney to babysit while you have a shower – you do you!


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