family organisation

I am a morning person. I love the potential the early morning brings and the clean slate you have to start with. Over the years we have developed some routines that we at night before we go tot bed, which have made mornings with 5 children enjoyable and a form of “organised chaos”.

Taking about 45 minutes the night before to do these activities, means not only are the stress levels reduced in the house, but that I can get to the gym a couple of mornings a week, that Mr I can ride to work a couple a mornings a week and that we can walk to school most mornings. Here is what we do:

1. Set Table For Breakfast.

We set out the place mats, bowls, spoons, glasses, cereal boxes so all that is required in the morning is for the juice and milk to be taken out of the fridge. This means that everyone can serve themselves as they get up.

2. Prepare Lunch Boxes.

This is by far much easier to the night before than in the morning. You can see my process in detail here at Preparing School Lunches.

3. Complete Notices.

The children have a folder where they place any notices from school when they arrive home. I will fill them in as required and place them in their lunchbox for collection. It is their responsibility to then see that it makes its way to school.

4. Ensure Clean and Available Uniforms/Clothes.

We don’t actually put the clothes out for the school kids, but Mr I and I will will make sure that their uniforms are in the right spot for the children to get them. I will work with the preschooler to lay out clothes for the next day. He is at a stage where he is very particular about what he will and won’t wear. Having them organised the night before means that if he wants to wear his “motorbike t-shirt” that I have the time to calmly find it for him. If I leave this to the morning, I find that this sort of demand more frustrating and time consuming and it starts to build up stress in the house if it takes me some time to locate the desired t-shirt.

5. Un-stack Dishwasher.

Depending on what I have cooked and who we have had to visit, our dishwasher can do 2 -3 cycles in a day. Almost always we put the dishwasher on after dinner and Mr I then empties it before bed. As one of the kids jobs is to stack the dishwasher in the morning, it is so much easier if it is emptied.

6. General Tidy.

With 5 children, I have realistic expectations about the tidiness of our house. One thing I find really helps is to try and start each day with a relatively tidy house. This doesn’t mean perfection, but means all things back in their place, so when the toddler makes his way into the lounge room for the first time in the morning and starts tipping out the blocks, it is just one layer of toys on the floor!

7. Empty The Bin/s.

We have three small bins inside: rubbish, recycling and compost. It is most likely that one of these will need to be emptied and Mr I does a check of these at night. Having them emptied means less running around for me the next day.

8. Check The Calendar.

As dates for events come in, they all go up on the family calendar. Checking it regularly means that I have a better idea of what is coming up and can then make the appropriate plans.

9. Make To Do List.

I find that once I have written down my to do list, I automatically feel more in control of what I have to do the next (few) day/s. It also means that I can plan the best way to prioritise the activities that need to be completed and reduce the level of running around that I do.

10. Wind Down.

This is a new one for me. I am now trying to turn the computer of 30 minutes before I want to go to bed and having time to just potter around, read etc, before I hop into bed. This should mean that I go to bed calmer and feeling more relaxed.

What is your night time routine? What things do you do, to help make mornings easier?

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  • Tracy April 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

    My evening routine is rather protracted compared to yours!

    I have my children get their clothes out for the next day. Saves heaps of arguments about appropriateness and last minute “I can’t find my socks”. We have no uniform, so this step is a must for us.

    I make sure there is room in the dishwasher for breaky dishes. It works better in our house if we can turn the dishwasher on before we leave in the morning and then empty after school.

    If there is no bread or milk left, a trip to Safeway needs to happen before 10pm, or else I’m doing a mad dash at 7am ~ not fun!

    Otherwise, everything else gets done in the morning. I’m an early riser type, so I work better then, than after dinner the night before.

  • miss carly April 13, 2010 at 9:20 am

    We currently dont do anything as I dont really have anywhere to be the next day. The days that I do go to uni, I usually have organised what I will wear {even though I usually will spend another 15-30minutes dissecting of a morning what I am wearing until I have to change 3 million times}. But I am a big to do list, on my iPhone I have an app that has a list of things that should be done throughout the week {at least ONCE}. These include: change the sheets, wash the sheets {I have two sets so when I change the sheets I put the new ones on straight away}, wash the clothes, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen, weigh in, cook dinner. As I am the only person in this house that understands the word ‘clean’ it falls to me. Plus because I dont work fulltime {and no they dont count uni as work} it is expected of me.

    Sorry. Managed to get on a rant there.

    Basically when the boyfriend and I do move out I would have written down a to do list for the next day, put the dishwasher on when we go to bed, have the clothes in the washing machine ready for me to turn on the next day, have clothes ready to go for the morning.

    Great post!

  • Kathy April 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    All great tips, Nicole, and I agree that preparing the night before makes the morning run smoother. I’m not quite as organised as you (imagine THAT ;-) but I always do 1, 3, 4 & 8 on your list, and try to do 5 & 6 as well. One additional thing I do is to check the menu plan for the following night’s meal and make sure meat if transferred from freezer to fridge (if required) and that all ingredients are to hand – if not I write myself a note to pick up the missing item/s on the way back from the school run.

  • PlanningQueen April 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Tracy – I think the best thing is to have routine for what you do, so you are almost on auto pilot (I like not having to think too hard about it!)

    Miss Carly – Thanks! I like the sound of that app – is it a free one?

    Kathy – Great tip about the meat in the freezer Kathy!

  • Kelly Burstow April 13, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I’m not a morning person. AT ALL! lol. I’ve been thinking about what I can do at night time to minimise what I have to do in the morning. Great tips here.

  • Gin April 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I have only just written down my evening routine so I can refer to it before I start relaxing in the evening. Mine is similar, but I have “laundry up-to-date”. This means if I have a basket of clean dry clothes, it must be folded, put away and any ironing done, plus another load in the washing machine to hang out in the morning. If I don’t make myself do this in the evening it is still there waiting for me in the morning, and is much harder to do with the kids around.

  • Julie April 13, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Thanks for another great post Nicole. I do a couple of these already, but I definitely need to take on board the “set the table for breakfast idea”. My children are not very good at waiting for breakfast. I’m sure that would help things go more quickly in the morning.

  • Marita April 14, 2010 at 7:05 am

    I’m much more a morning person than a night person so most tasks we do in the morning but I do like to get a load of washing through the machine and dishes in the dishwasher. Mornings have actually been fairly calm at our place this year (touch wood) so something is going right.

  • Natalie April 14, 2010 at 9:35 am

    These are all great ideas & a well planned out evening & routine-I love it! I too have a great iPhone app that I got this week, it’s called Home Routine, is a bit pricey for an app but so worth it! It’s a house cleaning routine app @ as I’m not the best cleaner it breaks your house into zones so you do 1 zone a week & clean in that zone for 15 mins/day. It also has all your daily morning/evening tasks that prompts you. You can also do your own to do lists & tick them off as you go. I find if I do my to do list the night before it helps to clear my mind & can get a better sleep without worrying what I need to do tomorrow!

  • Jacquie April 14, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Great tips! I do some of these but there’s a few I will try out. I need to start preparing the lunchboxes the night before as that seems to take up the most time for me in the morning. The only other thing I do that’s not on there is I load up the washing machine and set it to go on in the morning.

  • Cellobella April 15, 2010 at 12:00 am

    What do I do at night?


    Tell the kids to turn their laptops off and go to bed.

    And then I go to bed.


    Can I hire you?

  • Leanne April 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Great checklist. I’m going to have a go at making lunches at night. Doing them in the morning usually takes about 20 minutes with all the interruptions.

  • Organization Links « The Wooden Spoon April 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm

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  • Joseph Nally April 26, 2010 at 4:27 am

    For us, house, laundry, and clothes are tidied up WITH the kids. They are part of that piece of the home. Then we wind down together. After they go to be we review the day and lightly think through the next day.

    Regardless of exactly what it looks like; an evening routine with a family is so very useful.
    .-= Joseph Nally´s last blog ..Review: Forever a Family Magazine =-.

  • [...] at Planning with Kids posted 10 things you should do before you go to bed – it’s [...]

  • Tami April 26, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Your routine is very similar to ours. We have 4 kids at 3 different schools and one on the way. So it is always very important for us to maintain the routines at night. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Julia April 27, 2010 at 1:25 am

    I found this post via simple mom and I love it! I think I should print it out to help mornings go more smoothly. Thanks so much!
    .-= Julia´s last blog ..Menu Plan for the Week of 4/26: Cooking with What We Have (Mostly) =-.

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