the happy mama list

as we near the end of the summer (*tears*), our focus tends to be on preparing the kids for the back-to-school transition and putting in place some new routines.  but this year, i’m shifting my focus to myself.  yep, sounds totally selfish.  and maybe it is… but i’ve found that a prepared, calm mama is a happy mama.  and if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy ;)

in the past, our mornings tend to look a little like this:  sleep as long as possible, jump out of bed, give a quick once-over to see if a shower is absolutely necessary, throw on clothes (that are probably on the floor from yesterday), yell for the kids to get up and do their chores, beg everyone to eat breakfast faster, see there’s only a few minutes til we need to leave, remember to pack lunches (get creative because we’re down to pretty much just condiments in the fridge), hope the kids have all their books in their backpacks and run out the door.  then go back and get the kids ;)

but this year will be different (i think i say this every year).  this year i will be prepared.  and if i’m prepared, i have much more mental space to make sure all my little people are well-prepared, too.  my kids work well with lists to check off, so i’m making one for myself as well.

1- it all starts by being prepared ahead of time.  the last minute rush tends to stress everyone out, and slow, calm mornings are a better start to everyone’s day.  each night before school, i’ll make sure the kids have their essentials ready: clothes picked out, lunches packed, backpacks packed.


picking out the next day’s outfit is just as important for my boy as it is for my girls.  he tends to moan and groan about getting dressed, and he’s old enough to pick out his own clothes.  so by having him do it ahead of time the night before makes for less morning mishaps.  and my girls have gotten to the age where getting dressed just takes longer.  and i get it, but i also want to avoid morning drama, so laying out the outfits with all the accessories the night before will help avoid some of it.  *quick parenting tip: i gave up control after toddlerhood with each of my kids when it comes to choosing clothes.  i let them wear whatever they want as long as its weather appropriate (and modest, of course).  i filter what goes into their drawers, so i know there will be nothing i won’t allow in there.  and they all know how to check the weather on my phone to make sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather. it makes my life so much easier!


packing lunches the night before avoids the oh-my-goodness-we-have-no-food syndrome.  we generally start out the year with really healthy lunch foods, and end the year with a lot of pre-packaged junk, so i’m hoping to keep the healthy kick going longer if i can!  i tend to have more time in the evening to pack a healthy lunch, then i just tuck the lunch boxes all in the fridge and toss them in their backpacks in the morning.  ok, thats not totally true.  i’m a big fan of teaching independence, so i usually have my kids grab their own lunch boxes and pack them into their bags.  if you have a kid that loves to cook like i do, involve them in the lunch making routine.  lily loves making great lunches and surprising her siblings with a handful of chocolate chips in their bags!

– get into the routine of double checking backpacks the night before school.  there’s nothing like the panic of searching for a lost book as we’re running out the door.  after homework is done, put it all straight into the back pack.  and make sure you’ve filled out any paperwork, or signed any permission slips and tucked them in as well.  this way, all they have to do in the morning is toss in their lunch!


2- so now that the kids are prepped ahead of time, its time to do that for yourself as well.  getting up even just 30 minutes before the kids makes a world of difference for me.  it is really really hard for me to do, but when i do i am a much nicer mommy.  i can get out of bed, get my coffee, return any urgent work emails, then detach.  did you hear that?  DETACH.  thats the most important thing.  i will set my computer aside and not check it again until after i’ve dropped off the kids.  if i don’t detach, my mind is not on getting the kids ready for school, but on work.  now i can focus on giving them a healthy breakfast (or making sure they’ve made themselves a healthy breakfast), gently reminding them to finish their chores (rather than the usual nagging), and speak in a sing song voice without even faking it ;)


3- use technology to your advantage.  i tend to forget things (or everything) if i don’t write it down.  but still just as bad, is once i write something down, its out of my mind.  so i use the alerts on my phone all.the.time.  if we’re supposed to bring a snack to class, i set a reminder to grab it out of the fridge on my phone for just before we walk out the door.  and i often have “errands” i need to do at school once i drop off the kids, like go to the book store, or sign up for something, or volunteer, so i set reminders for those to go off just after i’ve dropped off the kids.


sometimes a long list of to-do’s is overwhelming, so i decided to just keep my list to the point and simple!  i hope this can be helpful for you as well!

feel free to print off your own here.

this post was sponsored by


  1. 1

    I started having my boys pick out their close for the week when they were small after too many cranky mornings. It really has made a huge difference in their mornings. Getting up before them has always been good for all of us us too. Sounds like you guys are going to be off to a great start!! Good luck, we’re back at it next week!

  2. 2

    Love the printable! Just a little typo on “backpacks”. Just thought I would let you know before a ton of people printed it! Going to make a list myself!!

  3. 4

    Love the list …

  4. 5

    All great strategies! I, like you, find it easier to do these things at the beginning, and then somewhere along the line, fall back into chaos mode. That’s the pattern I need to figure out how to break…how to keep this list going throughout the year.

  5. 6

    Ugh. I NEEEEEED to work on the rising before the kids thing. It’s just SO HARD! I’ve never been an early riser, but, like you, the days I do it, I’m in such a better place.
    So, I’m going to challenge myself to do it this upcoming week! Let’s see how it goes!

  6. 7

    Love this! I’m hoping for a better before school routine too. We have 2 weeks before school starts and are starting by organizing the bedrooms so there’s a place for everything. And am making a mental note for a place to lay out the next day’s outfit–great idea! I also bought a big armoire with space for each child’s important papers to sign and send back to school. And when our new kitchen is finally done, there will be a lunch packing station. I buy “healthier” snacks in big bags, then repackage them into snack size baggies. Every child has their one white bin (from dollar tree) that I put their lunch snacks in–then they can pack their own lunches. With 5 kids to take lunches and a toddler on the hip, this makes life a lot easier.

  7. 8

    My daughter has been going to a private school where they wear uniforms but will be attending a public school this year. I have been dreading the wardrobe contemplation each morning, but I like your solution of having only clothes you would approve of available and set out the night before. Your mornings sound a lot like ours, so I am going to take your challenge and make this year a lot calmer for all of us. Thanks for the tips!

  8. 9

    I love and desperately needed this post! I just told the girls about getting to check the weather so they’re in the right clothes for the climate, which is so challenging for us. Thanks, Lindsey!

  9. 10

    Great list and the printable is so pretty. My twins are back to school soon and I want mornings this year to be easier and nicer. I think getting up early for moms is a great tip. I’m a better person when I’ve had a moment to myself in the morning.

  10. 11

    We have started picking out clothes the night before, but the girls wear uniforms so it’s just a matter of what color shirt/pants/shorts/skort/jumper do they want to wear and it’s done. SO much easier. I pack lunches either the night before as my little one catches the bus and they will tell me what they want and I pack it or they eat at the cafeteria if they want. We also have a timer to get to the next thing, and then my husband drops them off at school, so I don’t have to do that unless he has an early meeting, etc. I am NOT a morning person and I try hard to get them moving, but husband gets youngest off on her bus (special ed) and I help my oldest get moving but now that she’s older (almost 12) she really is able to do it all herself. The timer really helps keep them on track though and lets them know they can’t dawdle.

  11. 12

    I love the list! I do a lot of this but I have always made lunches in the morning as time to myself. I am NOT a morning person. I have found that when I force myself to get up early and drink my coffee first and write in my prayer journal, that I am happier and less rushed. After reading your post I am going to start TONIGHT with encorporating the picked outfit as part of our bedtime routine. We have spent a lot of time in our home this summer, long story but I always want us all dressed.

    Question- Are you not homeschooling anymore?

    • 13

      we are still homeschooling, but we’ve always just done it part time. the kids are at school 2 days and at home 3.

  12. 14

    Oh I have a funny. I am the EXACT same way on letting them pick as long as its weather appropriate. This was hard for me to come to b/c felt judged by the way they looked. My daughter’s currency is her outfts and hair. So when bad choices are made I get to pick! Fortunately for her its not very often. However last spring… oh say Aprl, she chose her a Christmas T-shirt with her matching bow. I asked her why and she just sunk, so I said you know what? Merry Christmas! We can celebrate Jesus birth everyday for sure! That was HUGE for me. She even had a sleep over to another friends house that night.

  13. 15

    One more thing- you have probably seen this or even already do it. I was gettng all of the three kids stuff mixed together, and sometimes even lost. I had my husband hang three oil tin pans on the wall, one for each with clothespin magnets so their stuff stays separate. Its teacher info, homework packets, sports schedules, even their artwork. They love having ‘their’space and so do I. Plus they are pretty cute up on the wall- galvanized metal look. $10 each at Walmart.

  14. 16

    I love this and do it every year. I even iron the kids clothes every night for school the next day. Then somewhere in February they just wear whatever is clean.

  15. 17

    We are just about to enter the world of school. My first baby is starting Kindergarten in about 4 weeks. I am not a morning person either but I just might have to become one. Depending on her of course. :) I appreciate all the tips. Good to get the year started of right and keep it that way if I can.

  16. 18

    I love this idea of a happy mama list, and your list I’m sure will work great :-) !!!!

  17. 19

    I agree with everything you just said! My husband and I have to get everything we can possibly get ready the night before, because we want to sleep as long as we can in the morning!

  18. 20

    Hi there!! I came across your house tour over on House of Turquoise and it is Ahhhhhmazing!!! I featured your family room (specifically the yellow dresser) on my blog tonight along with some other yellow pieces that inspire me! Check t out;


  19. 21

    Years ago, when the kids were the ages of your 3, I read something that really resonated with me, “If I’m not proactive I’m reactive and that can be very unattractive.” Can I get an “amen!”
    It resonated because I was reactive (and so unattractive) all the time! Reading that I knew that (like you) if I started being proactive about all the little things that I personally could change the temperature of our home from frustrated and bickery to happy and loving again. I made the same changes you made- the kids caught on, too! We all began to appreciate the results of being “proactive.” We’ve been in a (mostly) good rthymn of it since.
    I know it will go well for your family, too!

  20. 22

    I definitely found it earier when to wake up before my baby, but is it just sooo hard. Thank you do sharing! I didn’t even think to use the reminders on my phone for simple little things that I need to remember.

  21. 23

    I just have to know, what chores do your kids do early in the mornings before school? I have to say, that kind of blew my mind that they actually do chores before school. I’m lucky if I can get mine to stay awake while they are brushing their teeth….they are such zombies in the mornings, not to mention seriously grumpy. I would LOVE it if I could make that happen at our house, though. I must know your secret in this respect.

    • 24

      hey anna!

      i’m kind of the chore nazi. i can’t do it all myself (or i refuse to), so the kids help out a lot. they have to clean their room (make bed, clean floor), the girls do the laundry and empty the dishwasher, and a couple other small things.

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