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Ohio State University Extension


First Grade: Dealing with Morning Madness

Backpack Buddies for September
Family and Consumer Sciences
Elaine Collins, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Adams County.
Betsy DeMatteo, Extension Program Coordinator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Hamilton County.

Have you ever found yourself frantically searching for your child's lost shoe five minutes before the bus is to come? Or forgotten your child's lunch money? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, you may be experiencing a common family problem called "morning madness."

The rush to get everyone off to school and work is a challenge to every family. To help you manage morning madness, Ohio State University Extension offers these tips:

  • Set your clocks ahead. It may be all psychological, but having your clocks and watches set 5 to 10 minutes ahead can keep you on schedule.
  • Lay out clothing for everyone the night before—including shoes and socks. This puts an end to those last-minute searches for the missing shoe.
  • Have a cubby for your children to keep items they need to take to school. Keep a box or basket near the door for children to keep their books, lunch money, hat, gloves, and anything else that they need to take to school. Pack up bookbags before bed with everything needed for school the next day. Everyone will sleep better and arrive at school with everything they need, instead of looking for it in a hurry in the morning.
  • Start going to bed earlier. It may take your body a few weeks to get used to going to bed an hour or so earlier, but in the long run, you will find it easier to get up in the morning.
  • Get up earlier. Setting your alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier than usual will go a long way in easing morning madness. For working parents, plan to get up 1½ hours prior to the time you must leave for work. This extra time will allow you to arrive at work relaxed and prepared to face the day.
  • Take time for breakfast. Make sure you allow 15 minutes in the morning for a wholesome breakfast. Set the table the night before—a good job for a young family member. If you must eat on the run, choose nutritious foods such as fruit, cheese and crackers, muffins, or a sandwich.
  • Prepare lunches while preparing breakfast. If your child takes a lunch to school, pack it at the same time you are preparing breakfast and place it in the child's school cubby near the door.

For more information about this and other parenting topics, check out the Positive Parenting newsfeed. You can find this free resource at or by calling or going to your local Extension office for copies.

"Rise and Shine Morning Chart"

If your youngster happens to be a slow mover in the morning or must be constantly reminded to comb hair or brush teeth, this chart may be just what you need to make your mornings hassle-free!

Place this chart on the refrigerator or wall, and have your child place a check or sticker next to each of the tasks he or she completes each morning. Offer a special reward for a full week of checks. If your child is especially "hard to start," you may want to offer a small reward each day in the beginning.

Task Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
1. Wash face          
2. Comb hair          
3. Brush teeth          
4. Dress myself          
5. Make bed          
6. Feed pets          
7. Eat breakfast          
8. Other (specify):          
9. Other:          
10. Other:          


Evans, G.D. (2003). Time management for kids (FCS2111). University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service.

Edited by: Rose Fisher Merkowitz, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Highland County; Kathy L. Jelley, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Brown County; and Scott Scheer, Professor and Extension Specialist—Human and Community Resource Development and 4-H Youth Development, The Ohio State University.

Revised by: Betsy DeMatteo, Extension Program Coordinator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Hamilton County.

Originally posted Dec 9, 2010.