Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: The Mom-Does-Everything Morning Madness Problem

If you dread your morning alarm — knowing it signals little more than anxiety, stress, and misplaced socks — read this. Our organizing coach explains how to streamline your morning routine — yes, even when your whole family is living with ADHD.

Q: “My son, my husband and I all have ADHD. Mornings are filled with anxiety, stress and, more often than not, tears. How can we organize ourselves so that we can all leave the house without the start to our day being ruined by the madness?” —ADHDforUsAll

Hi ADHDforUsAll:

A smooth morning is usually the result of proper planning and preparation, which begins the night before. My rule of thumb is this: Anything that can be done the night before should be.

  1. Lay out clothes for the next day. This includes everything from accessories to undergarments to shoes and coats. Take all clothing out of the bedrooms and leave it either the kitchen or the bathroom closest to the kitchen. By removing clothing, you are also removing the temptation for your child to make time-wasting trips back to his or her bedroom during the morning.
  2. Get ready for breakfast. Set out dishes and utensils. Dispense vitamins or other medications. Pre-measure oatmeal or hard boil eggs in advance. Set the timer on your coffee maker. You will shave minutes off the morning routine if you have breakfast ready to go the evening before.
  3. Pack lunches and snacks. To make mornings less hectic, prepare school lunches the night before. Have your children help you and build it into their evening routine.
  4. Make a reminder checklist. List items such as cell phones, keys, lunchboxes, homework, musical instruments, sporting equipment, etc. that you know you will need. Tack it to a cork board or clipboard or write it directly on a wipe board. Pictures work best for young children. Hang your list right by the launching pad for all to see.

And if you are looking for more tips and tools for creating a smooth and calm morning, please check out my book, What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Succeed. I devote an entire chapter to creating calm and cooperative mornings for everyone!

Our Editors Also Recommend:

Free Download: Sample Schedules for Reliable Family Routines
Dress Rehearsals: Conquering ADHD Mornings
Nix Morning Chaos with This Two-Part Routine

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions here!