Sep. 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM ET
In our house, nighttime is sacred: It’s a time for all of us to unwind and relax. But it's also time to do the one thing that helps us arrive to school on time: We prepare for the next day of school the night before. Whether we're at home in the evening or before heading out for an evening at church or a sporting event, here's what we do:
Get Homework and Papers to Sign Ready
Once the kids' homework is done, it’s so important to get it back into their folders inside their backpacks and set out for the morning—so we're not searching for it in the morning. If there are papers that I need to sign for school, I want to see them the night before so I have enough time to read them and know what’s going on.
Lay Out Clothes
Like many parents, my husband and I lay out our kids' clothes the night before. We also have them check the forecast for the next day before choosing to make sure we don't get tripped up by the weather. This way, if the kids wake up late the next morning (especially for the one that is finicky about what she wears), the clothes are already picked out and ready to go. But we've also taken this one step further: We also lay our own clothes out the night before so that we're not the ones causing a delay.
Make Lunch Early
Making all or part of their lunches the night before can also be a big help to getting through the morning without too many glitches the next day. If you can't do this, even just setting up their lunch bags on the counter or cleaning out what was left from the day before helps.
Stick to the Routine
I know it’s not possible for us to get this organized every single school night, but making their bedtimes a priority and starting as early in the evening as possible helps tremendously. All of us have a bedtime—me included—and we are all much happier when we get our much-needed sleep. Mornings run smoother, perkiness abounds and it’s easier to get up when we’ve had our sleep quota.
Once you get used to doing things the night before in order to have a smoother morning, you’ll be amazed, like I am, at how it just becomes part of what you do.
iVillage Back to School Community Challenge Coach Becky Barnfather is a Southern California girl with two children who has been married for 19 years. She's the creator of the blog Organizing Made Fun, whose goal is to motivate and inspire women to organize. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.