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De-stress your mornings

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By Lisa Bova
From Your Family Today 

For most moms, mornings are a mad dash to get everyone up, dressed and out the door -- hopefully with some breakfast in them. But the a.m. rush hour doesn't have to be so hectic. Here, solutions for simpler, saner mornings:

Shower at night The more tasks you can knock off before bedtime, the better, says J. Lynn Cutts, Ph.D., author of Change One Habit, Change Your Life (Lynn Cutts). It's a philosophy that Abena Foreman-Trice, mom of three from Waynesboro, Va., swears by. Her time-saver: She has her kids hit the shower in the evening. "In the morning, all my children have to do is get dressed, eat and brush their teeth," she says. "They even have a little leisure time so that they don't feel hurried when they are leaving the house." If you really want to streamline the early-hour action, why not get your own shower out of the way too?

Lay it all out To prevent that panicked search for the other shoe, have everyone -- your kids, your spouse and you too -- preselect entire outfits for the next day the night before. That means everything: clothes, accessories, socks and shoes. It won't do you any good to have your clothes ready if you have to spend 20 minutes hunting for a missing earring.

Steal time for yourself You need to feel calm in order to set a calm tone for the rest of your gang. "Set your alarm clock 15 minutes early and make a point of having a few minutes of quiet time to breathe and meditate or just have a cup of coffee," says Cutts. "That move gets you centered and ready to deal with what's about to erupt."

Save the dates Hang a big calendar in your kitchen or by the front door. Have your spouse and older kids write anything relevant in it; you can handle the job for you and your little ones. Having a big reminder that you have to pick up your 8-year-old at soccer practice, for example, or dress your preschooler in school colors will let you plan logistics in advance and will eliminate same-day surprises like, "By the way, I need to bring in brownies today!"

Make breakfast a no-brainer Put breakfast in front of your kids -- the night before. Set the table -- complete with cereal boxes, bowls and spoons. Professional organizer Elaine Bloom of Maplewood, N.J., suggests putting cereals in see-through containers: "That way you can see when you're about to run out, and replenish so you don't find there's nothing to eat in the morning."

Leave backpacks by the door Make sure your kids' book bags are filled up, zipped and ready to go. "Before my kids turn in for the night, I check their backpacks to see that everything is in order, then put them by the front door so they aren't forgotten on the way out," says Laurie Hurley of Newbury Park, Calif. "We don't have any panic attacks two minutes before leaving for school that homework is still sitting on the desk."

Don't try to be supermom Take a good look at your morning to-do list. If something doesn't require immediate attention, try tackling it at a less stressful time. Maybe that means making the beds after lunch or doing the morning dishes in the evening when you get home from work. Don't worry about being a slacker. The truth is: If you get everyone out the door with a smile on your face and remember that all-important kiss goodbye, you're already off to a good start.

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