Managing the Morning Routine

It’s no wonder that Julie Cole is so organized in the morning—she made a business out of organizing mounds of mixed-up stuff from her six (yes, blink blink, SIX) kids.

Julie is the co-founder of Mabel’s Labels, a mom-run business that makes personalized, waterproof labels and tags that are dishwasher-, microwave-, and even laundry-safe, (which is a kindness to any parent who’s had to lovingly hand-pick the goo off a washed t-shirt with the sticker still attached).

But back to those six kids… This Jedi master of morning routines shares how she manages her mini-mes and gets them out the door every day, presumably wearing pants. We can all raise a coffee cup to that!

Julie Cole and family

Photo courtesy of Julie Cole


“Don’t allow kids to give opinions about breakfast options. There’s cereal and toast or yogurt and fruit. Not only do I NOT give options, they must help themselves! If both breakfast choices are refused, I throw in an apple and tell them to have a good snack break. It’s important also to respect that sometimes kids just have no appetite first thing in the morning.”


“In my house, from a very early age, they know the morning routine and what their responsibilities are. Everyone’s responsibilities are the same, but the level of expectation is different for each child—for instance, the younger ones get their own cereal, but I might pour the milk.”


“I have a chart reminding them of their morning responsibilities. I don’t want to argue or nag my kids in the morning. If they’re not sure what to do next to prepare, I re-direct them to the chart so they can continue independently getting organized.”


“Clothes are laid out the night before. The morning is no time to be changing minds or entertaining the thought of school being a fashion show. No decisions are made in the morning. What they picked out the night before must be honored. On any uncooperative mornings, I try to remind them we do our choosing the night before, and new clothing selections can be saved for the next day. If it’s holding us up and we REALLY need to get out the door, I may accommodate the fashion swap—but there are consequences.”


“No gadgets or television. These things are distractions, and in our busy mornings, there’s no time for distractions. I make sure that the kids are focused and take away any digital distractions.”


“We don’t make lunches or pack up homework in the morning. All these things can be done the night before. ANYTHING that can be done in advance, should be done in advance.”



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