Life with Moxie: 12 steps for mastering back to school mornings

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Summer 2018 has come to an end. For families with school aged children, gone are the lazy late mornings and even later nights. The days of popsicles for lunch, cereal for dinner and a swim in the pool in lieu of a shower are disappearing into the rearview mirror. We are now being forced into a dramatic reset that will upend many a family if it’s not acknowledged and prepared for.

Mornings are the single most chaotic window of time for families. They are typically loud, chaotic, disorganized, and there never seems to be enough time. The reasons, when you look objectively at what is happening and why, are simple (though not always easy) to address. Not surprisingly, when looking at the causes, many connections were made realizing they are not, in fact,  a morning issue, but an unresolved issue from the night before.

Here are Life with Moxie’s 12 ways to master school day mornings.

1. Get enough sleep. We are all effectively sleep deprived because we don’t prioritize sleep. This effects our ability to think, make decisions, control our weight, control our mood and temper. The fact that hardly anyone among us is waking up refreshed makes it no surprise that mornings, with multiple sleep-deprived beings, are so challenging.

If your brain is typically uncooperative in allowing you to stay asleep, I recommend starting an evening regimen of CBD oil. As a mother I am a very light sleeper as the parenting antennae are always up. I used to wake up in the middle of the night for something as light as a child rolling over in their bed and my mind would take off with work, schedules, etc. and then would struggled to go back to sleep. After a week of taking CBD, working to get it built up in my system, I began sleeping like a log. Over the next two months I made up for what felt like eight years of lost sleep.

2. Make your bed. Charles Duhigg explains in his bestselling book, The Power of Habit:

“Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget… It’s not that a family meal or a tidy bed causes better grades or less frivolous spending. But somehow those initial shifts start chain reactions that help other good habits take hold.” This means everyone in the family: it need not look like Martha Stewart did it.

3. If you have more than one person in a bathroom to get ready, create a schedule that includes limit shower times so there are no daily fights over time in there. If it makes sense, move hairstyling and makeup into bedrooms so they aren’t unnecessarily crowding the bathroom.

4. Create a shoe/backpack/jacket station. These three pieces have given parents more grief and lost us more time than any other single dynamic. An old school style locker is the most efficient and user-friendly way to create this station. A stool or bench to sit on to have somewhere to put their shoes on will be needed as well. Since all three of these things- the shoes, backpack and jacket- all happen together at the very last minute on the way out the door to the car, they should be stationed as near to that exit as possible. If you happen to be in the process of designing a house, add on a “mud room” the smaller room where you can drop all the things, take of the shoes and jackets before making your way into the main house.

5. Lay out your complete outfit the night before — all of it — from underwear to shoes. This completely eliminates the “Mom, I-can’t-find-itis” that strikes every morning. One to go one step further? Every Sunday, have kids do this for the whole week as they are putting their own laundry away. Here is a cubby system designed specifically for that.

6. Place the shoes for the outfit at the backpack station.

7. Every night, when done with homework, have children reload, close and put their backpack at the backpack station.

8. Use a real old school alarm clock, not a phone, to get up in the morning, and one without a snooze button. If you legitimately have more time available to sleep, then change the alarm time. Otherwise you are choosing to intentionally start your day with a declared lack of commitment. Start children getting themselves up with an alarm clock beginning in elementary school. Having the parents wake children sets up the day with the first action being one frustration. The natural consequence for not getting up when the alarm goes off? Missing the bus and having the embarrassment of having that explained to the teacher, and an earlier bed time. It is not out of the question for some children to legitimately need up to nine to 11 hours of sleep a night, especially during growth spurts.

9. Get all the parts of the coffee ready so that all you do in the morning is hit the on button. This includes putting the clean mug next to the maker, with the spoon. There is nothing more fabulous than smelling freshly ground coffee. Why not opt for a new coffee maker that has all these parts working together while you do nothing. When the programmed start time arrives, it freshly grinds the whole beans that are stored in it, drops those grounds into the basket and makes the coffee. Perfection that smells like opportunity.

10. Prep breakfast choices over the weekend, then freeze (extra homemade waffles, pancakes you made over the weekend), or prepare berries in single serve containers to serve with yogurt and granola, or put left-overs that were intentionally made over the weekend in single-serve containers so they can simply be reheated like the staple South American beans and rice with fruit salsa breakfast or a tofu scrambler that can be served with toast.

It’s all about creating a system that doesn’t require adult support and there’s nothing here that can’t be done by even the youngest school-age member of the family. Keeping in mind that this is the most powerful meal of the day as the nutrients are in immediate demand from fasting all night and we go straight into full-power mode, so avoid added sugar (and synthetic sugar), anything refined and make it plant heavy.

11. Turn off the screens after dinner. Technology is a point of contention for many families for several reasons. Make at house rule that there are no devices at meals, during family time and in their rooms at night. The light emitted from devices tells the brain it’s daytime and stops the release of the hormone melatonin whose job it is to help you go to sleep. Keep all devices corralled with a simple central charging station to help keep children off their phones. In the morning, they are allowed to get on them when everything else on the list is completed and they are completely ready to walk out the door.

12. Don’t turn on the TV. There is no good that comes to anyone’s day by having the TV on in the morning. Just for fun, maybe try turning on some relaxing music and light a few candles. We are going to effectively be barked at for the entire day and our home is our safe cocoon, so let’s keep the barking TV off. If kids are ready early and are bored, have them read.

If we can master our mornings and walk out into the world calm, confident and feeling in control of our experiences, our days will begin to unfold in our favor, for all of us. Now let’s get this day started so we can be ready for the week, in charge and on top of it! That’s Life with Moxie!


Have ideas you’d like to add? Need more suggestions? Or want to share your experience? Let me know!


Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company, CEO of Moxie Creed, skincare beyond chemistry. You can reach her at

Passionate Living by Design, That’s Life with Moxie

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