getting out the door

First of all, let me be the first to admit that I am the absolute last person who should be writing this article. My household is in utter chaos each morning, with me standing in the middle wondering how exactly the situation deteriorated so rapidly. On those rare days when I arrive at work dressed appropriately, on time, with my computer, having eaten actual food, and my children are at school with their lunches, extra clothes, gifts for teachers, etc., it is nothing short of a miracle.

I realize there are women who wake up at 4:30 a.m. and have worked out, showered, dressed, and are completely ready before their children awake. I want to be one of them… I am not. In acceptance of this fact, I sought suggestions for decreasing morning chaos that did not involve me waking up significantly earlier. Because really, my family is best served by a well-rested mama.

So although this is not my usual ‘legal’ advice here are a few ideas that have made things ever-so-slightly less awful in the morning.

1. Do Everything Possible the Night Before
-Make the lunches, including your own, if you will be away all day.
Like the well-rested mama, your family is better served when mom doesn’t have low blood sugar or is living on granola bars.
-Put the stuff in the car.
Having to make nine trips back and forth adds significant time and frustration to the morning.
– Lay the clothes out, including yours, if you have to go to work.
When I go to grab my outfit, only to remember I spilled tomato sauce on it last week, and then I can’t find the belt for the clean outfit, I remember this rule. Choosing clothes is a time suck.
I often work at night after my children go to bed, and when I finish at 10:00 p.m., I don’t always do these things to prepare for the next day… And I always regret it.

2. Make an Age-Appropriate List for Your Kids
When my daughter was younger, I took photos of her doing each step of her morning routine (eating breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed) and hung them on her wall. To help her focus, I could point to them, which felt less naggy.
Now for both children, I have a list that I made on a regular piece of paper with words and pictures that I drew. Each child has his or her morning routine, including household chores (fill water bottles and close windows for my four-year-old, make beds and help carry stuff to the car for my six-year-old).
The kids seem to like the “charts”, and they allow me to ask, “How is your list going?” rather than repeating “brush your teeth” seven times.

3. One Toy in the Morning
We had a family meeting and developed a new rule–no playing until the list is finished. When the list is finished, the children can play with one toy.
This is intended to prevent the mom-gets-out-of-the-shower-only-to-discover-a-giant-fort-constructed-out-of-furniture-blocks-and-blankets-that-somehow-rose-up-in-four-minutes dilemma.
This actually just happened this morning, but we’re working on it.

Image Credit: Jane Hudson Stoller

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Meg Obenauf is an attorney and the founder of Obenauf Law Group. She strives to help families pass on their wealth simply, without conflict, drama, or taxes and works with families to protect their money and property from the ravages of nursing home and long-term care expenses. Meg helps parents of minor children create plans so that your keiki are never out of the hands of your loved ones, even for a moment, if the unthinkable should occur. She works with clients to create customized plans designed to ensure that your wishes are recognized and followed. Meg is a graduate of Harvard Law School. She resides in upcountry Maui with her husband, Mark, and her two young children. You can contact her at 244-3905 or go to for more information.