10 Tips for Stress-Free Mornings

Even if you're a morning person -- and many of us aren't -- it's not easy to get out of the house on time and completely organized. It's harder still if there are school-age children in the family. Here are some ideas that should make it easier.

  1. A surprising but logical place to post a reminder list: the bathroom! You're probably in there first thing in the morning, and chances are you spend a fair amount of time in there over the course of the day.
  2. You've reached for something to wear and it's hopelessly wrinkled. Try this quick trick instead of hauling out the iron: Toss the item into the dryer together with a water-misted towel, turn the controls to ''air only,'' and go about your other tasks while this process ''irons out'' the wrinkles.
  3. Mount a clip or clipboard near the door as a place to stash notes, permission slips, prescriptions, letters to be mailed, to-do lists and whatever else is supposed to leave the house when you do. Depending on your needs, you might want to mount a clip for every member of the family.
  4. If your family includes older children or adults, it might be useful to have a dry-mark bulletin board on the door where everyone can note their plans for the afternoon and evening to keep others informed. Or leave a pad of Post-its and a pen on a table near the door for messages.
  1. Put a large laundry basket -- your ''to go'' box -- somewhere near the door. It can be used as the collection spot for clothes that have ''to go'' to the cleaner, packages that have ''to go'' to the post office, books ''to go'' to the library and whatever else should be packed into the car. In fact, the whole basket can be carried to the car, contents intact.
  2. One way to remember to take an item with you is to use a trick called displacement. The idea is that if you put something in the wrong place, you will notice it. Suppose, for example, you want to bring a cheesecake to the school bake sale. Leave the house or car keys in the refrigerator along with the cheesecake. When you reach for the keys, you'll remember to take the cake along.
  3. To remind yourself to turn off the coffee pot, dryer or whatever other electrical device might still be running, set a timer to go off about 10 minutes before you leave the house.
  4. Kids' memories need to be jogged, too. If there's something in the backpack your child has to remember to give the teacher, tie a ribbon to the backpack as a reminder.
  5. If you keep a to-do list on your computer, or keep one filed in the Palm pilot, make a special section for morning tasks, so you can quickly recall whether a permission slip must be sent, trip money is necessary, and so on.
  6. Put the house and car keys on a bangle bracelet you can slip on and off in a hurry. This will prevent you from dropping the keys, and it's a great help when your arms are full.
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