Early Bird Secrets

September 14th, 2010

This is sponsored content by BlogHer and Kellogg.

As part of a share-your-story program for Kellogg’s Love Your Cereal, I’m writing a series of weekly posts about breakfast routines, nutrition and all the million-and-one reasons why we should love cereal!

This week’s topic is about Back to School: How do you transition from a relaxed summer schedule, back to the rigors of a school schedule? Tips other moms can use? What food can always be found on your breakfast table during the school year?

Since I don’t have a kid going back to school, I thought I’d share some of my secret tips for being on time. I figure these might come in handy next year when Bug does go to kindergarden.

I guess most coffee drinkers are not morning people

First of all I have to say I’m a morning person. I’m also one of those annoying people who gets up early and actually likes to be on time…early, even. I do a little dance of happiness inside my head if I can get out the door and to my destination many minutes before I’m supposed to. I’m also married to a night owl who hates morning and is NEVER ever on time to anything. I’ve learned to adjust.

Here are some of my morning tips:

sniff sniff, doesn't smell like febreeze

Plan out your morning the night before. I know this sounds obvious. You’re probably yawning, thinking I’m going to tell you to lay out your clothes at night, blah blah blah. But I’m not. I don’t actually do much the night before. I do go to bed early and then I lie there thinking about the next day. I mentally go over all the tasks I need to accomplish and think about all the hang-ups I might come across.

I read somewhere that Bill Gates visualizes every possible outcome to every possible scenario. I figure if that’s the secret to his great success I might as well do it too. So far it’s not brought me any great wealth but it does help me process the next day and avoid crazy surprises. It would probably be even more helpful if I got up and wrote down lists of everything I think of while I’m laying there in the dark but that’s just crazy. I’m too tired for that!

Sometimes if I remember something really important like the dry cleaning I need to pick up or the fact that my car is parked on the wrong side of the street for street sweeping, I’ll throw something on the floor that doesn’t belong there. Often this is a bookmark from a book I’m reading or a hair clip or a stuffed animal that was within reach. The next day when I wake up and find a strange out-of-place thing in my path it reminds me what I needed to do so badly. This probably won’t work for most people but it works great for me.

morning coffee and slippers

Get enough sleep. This is another obvious one. Of course it’s probably a lot easier for a morning person like me to go to bed early than it is for a night owl because I’m naturally tired at night. But I do drink a lot of coffee which messes with my sleep patterns. Every four days or so I cut back on my coffee and let my body crash naturally. If that means I fall asleep at eight when I put my kid to bed, I let myself. Sometimes I don’t get everything done that I wanted to but I find I’m twice as productive the next day. It works out a lot better than a constant feed of caffeine that eventually loses its effectiveness anyway.

Musee d'Orsay Clock Window

Change your clocks. I’m totally guilty of setting my clock 15 minutes fast. In fact every clock in my house is set to a different time. It drives my husband crazy. But it works! I know most people will learn to compensate for the wrong time but I find it helps me.

I also change the clock in my head. If I need to be somewhere at nine and I should leave by eight to get there, I set my goal leaving time for 7:30. I learned this a long time ago when working in cubeland. I hate clock-watching bosses as much as the next guy, but I learned that if I played their game instead of chafing against it, I got a lot more bonuses. If I was supposed to be at work at eight, I got there at 7:30 and was typing away on my blog looking terribly busy. Never mind the fact that I probably never actually got down to any real work until after nine or ten.

Of course this is not as easy now that my morning routine involves getting a kid dressed and fed, but it still somewhat applies. We get up early and go to our destination early. If we’re too early we do something fun like take a little walk wherever we are or get a treat at nearby coffee shop or just sit in the car and read books. If we’re running late for my fake deadline then we usually end up being right on time.

sipping tall

Eat breakfast at your destination. Sometimes moving up your morning routines can mess with your stomach. We’re not always ready to eat breakfast at the crack of dawn but if we took the time to eat breakfast when we were ready, then we’d be horribly late. On these days I take breakfast with us. Sometimes that means we’re munching on dry cereal or a granola bar at the park next to the doctor’s office or wherever we had to be. On special days that means we get a treat at a coffee shop or restaurant. I try to always pack lunches/snacks wherever we go. A Nutella and peanut butter sandwich or a banana on the road can save us from an inopportune attack of the hungries later on.

I don’t know if any of these tips are all that helpful. I think everyone has to look at their problem areas and think of unique solutions to get around them. These are just things that I’ve found that work for me. Do you have any tips that get you through the morning rush? Do you have special foods that help your mornings go more smoothly? Please share!

Share your story for your chance to win $100! Check out BlogHer.com Kellogg exclusive offers page for 24 other chances to win too! Official rules here.

Mom’s Breakfast Club was started to help educate moms and families about kids’ cereal and share the scoop on their nutritional benefits and ingredients. To learn more about the program, visit www.loveyourcereal.com.

Last week’s winner is…


Karen of Down in the Hollow! Those are beautiful bird pictures! I’m glad I clicked over. Watch your email box Karen!

95 Responses to “Early Bird Secrets”

  1. Mami2jcn Says:

    We try to do as much as possible the night before (pack lunches, lay out clothes, pack bookbags and leave them by the door). In the morning a mini bagel or a pop tart is a quick breakfast.

  2. Ms. Amy Says:

    I wake up 15-20 minutes before I have to get the kids up. It allows me a few minutes of peace to make some tea, check blogs, or create my to-do list before I have to wake the sleeping lions (kids) and roust them out of bed. I also don’t do anything more fancy than frozen waffles for breakfast on school days.

  3. Jaynette Says:

    We’ve been packing the makings of several lunches on one night. Then we don’t have to be crazed every morning. Having seperate baggies of ham, cheese and fruit in the fridge and crackers and cookies on the counter has helped.

    We love fruity or nutty breakfast bars and we vary the cereal every week depending on the sales.

  4. Kelly Massman Says:

    We’re pretty quiet in the morning, and we eat something quick-like cereal!
    kmassman gmail

  5. Felix Says:

    I always try to make sure and set out clothes and make lunch the night before. I always stock a good selection of quick and healthy breakfast choices to help make that part of the morning go smoothly. Sticking to a bedtime schedule and getting a good night sleep helps with the grumpies in the morning too! A special toy to play with on the ride to school helps get Kira to hustle out of the house a bit.

  6. Rebecca Says:

    For this school year I bought my daughter a fabric sweater shelf that hangs in her closet. We’ve been picking out her school clothes for the week on Sunday nights so there are no fights or tears over what she wants to wear. It has been SO much easier!

  7. Tracy S. Says:

    I set my alarm earlier than I actually have to be up so I still have the chance to hit snooze and still be on time. I also grab breakfast and coffee to go (that I’ve prepared the night before) and eat it in the car on the way to work. It’s usually a greek yogurt with bran cereal or a breakfast/fiber bar and a piece of fruit. I have an hour commute so I have plenty of time to enjoy my coffee and breakfast without making myself late.

  8. karen Says:

    Thank you so very much!! I’m very excited to have won last week’s give-away. (Please don’t count this comment when doing your next pick!!) And thank you for visiting my blog, Down in the Hollow, a blog about beautiful Cape Breton – it’s landscape and wildlife. ~karen

  9. sioux Says:

    lists, lists and more lists! also, knowing what i’m going to wear (my kids wear uniforms to school so that’s super-easy), and getting up about half an hour before i get them up. not only am i 90% ready when they get up, i am much happier than when somebody screeches in my ear that’ she’d like to get out of bed but cannot without me there (ahem).
    and coffee, but not right away. 10 am is good.

  10. Chelle Cates Says:

    We set a time to leave and everybody better in the car or we are going without you! I don’t have a little one in school, but we have lots of appts to get too and everyone has to be ready ontime!!!

  11. Nicole Greene Says:

    We love cereal and bananas when we are rushed in the morning!

  12. Leta Says:

    My tips are:

    1. Set an alarm. I can’t sleep unless I know my alarm is set for plenty of time to do whatever it is I have to do on any given morning. And I never, ever hit snooze. Really.

    2. Lay out clothes the night before. Especially for the kids. This eliminates a lot of arguing in our house.

    3. Lay out as much breakfast/lunch items as you can the night before. If I know I am going to be really pressed for time, I go ahead and lay out cups, vitamins, granola bars, etc. the night before.

    4. Leave at least 5 minutes before you think you really have to leave. Even if I think we are on time, by the time I get everything and everybody loaded into the car we are running late. Walking out the door and getting into your car by yourself is not the same as loading children, bags, snacks, toys, etc. into the car.

  13. Jennifer Says:

    I am thankful to have my hubby here most mornings to help get my little ones ready and out the door. We do have a good system of who does what for the kids (ie: he gets breakfast ready and lunches made, I make sure their clothes match and their hair and teeth are brushed!). I appreciate all he does to make my mornings easier!

  14. the ambitious mrs Says:

    I am totally one of those people that is always 5 minutes late. I already have my clock in my car set 7 minutes fast. I guess that means I should move it up to 12 minutes!

  15. shelly aka allysmama Says:

    I prep the night before to avoid the morning rush!! For breakfast, my daughter will either eat grits, cereal or a bagel and drink some OJ! Thanks

  16. Jen Says:

    If it weren’t for cereal we wouldn’t eat breakfast! Cereal is fast, inexpensive and
    e-a-s-y. I am not an organized person. Unfortunately breakfast is “rush hour” and cereal just works.

  17. Susan Says:

    You have some fantastic ideas! Especially the one about throwing something on the floor, although in reality I’d just step over it and never really see it. I am one of those who lays out my children’s clothes the night before, packs lunches, sets up the coffee, even packs my own breakfast the night before.

  18. Robin M. Says:

    Doing as much as possible the night before… clothes, school stuff, lunch, etc.

  19. diana Says:

    lol @ not starting actual work until after 10, it is 10:08 for me right now! my school lunch trick (three weeks in!) is to leave out all my tupperware and things i am going to pack that are in the cupboards, i.e. crackers, cereal bar, fruit bar, banana, etc. that way its right in front of me and i don’t have to think about it!

  20. Jennie Says:

    I’m still transitioning! I hate getting up in the dark, and my almost toddler is the slowest eater on the planet. Today we were only 45 minutes late, which was a success in my book. Breakfast is certainly to blame since I barely do my hair and make-up! It seems like those precious minutes in the morning go by so much faster!

  21. Jacqueline L. Says:

    I am so NOT a morning person, so eating a full breakfast during the work week isn’t feasible. I do however, always make sure to have plenty of bananas around to grab on my way out the door. Once I get in the office, I usually eat a meal replacement protein bar or some oatmeal. =)

  22. Betty N Says:

    Our kids liked school so that made it easier to transition. We made sure bedtimes were in place. We always did everything we could the night before; lunches made, homework done and checked, clothes for next day laid out, etc so there is no rushing in the morning. For breakfasts I have a variety of choices available by making muffins, biscuits and pancakes and freezing them, keeping a variety of cold cereals available and there is always fresh fruit in the house. Sometimes I scramble eggs..

  23. Lorey Says:

    My kids have certain things they will eat for 2 weeks straight for breakfast, which is a real time saver for me- and they are usually cereal and pop tarts, granola bars, easy stuff. My son is very schedule oriented, so he keeps up on track (he is my back-up alarm clock). The less stressful I can make the morning, the better day everyone will have- so that is always my goal!

  24. wanda Says:

    We grab and go with easy foods like toast/nutella or poptarts.
    Some mornings we make breakfast burritos to go.

    Mornings are the devil! :(

  25. Aurora Says:

    Usually I’m up 2 hours before my daughter, so I do work, exercise, empty dishwasher, whatever didn’t get done the night before. On occasion, though, she wakes up SUPER early! On those days, she helps me cook a “special” breakfast of scrambled eggs and LOTS of cheese…those are really fun time, even though my work time goes down the drain!

  26. Brooke Says:

    I totally eat breakfast at work. I keep a box of oatmeal in my desk. Or I’ll occasionally bring a box of cereal and a carton of milk. I check my work email over breakfast.
    (BTW, love the photo of the little sipping the drink. It’s almost like her sipping is making her pony stand straight up!)

  27. Kerry Says:

    We have our clothes and lunches ready to go the night before. And we always have a quick, make-it-yourself breakfast in the morning.

  28. Kerry Says:

    tweeted: http://twitter.com/KerryBishop/status/24626257337

  29. B Smith Says:

    I think I am like everyone else, we do most everything we can, the night before.

  30. pinky Says:

    I am totally not a morning person, I, too am a night owl, but get up early because you know – that little guy isn’t going to sleep all day!

    We are totally about Cheerios-on-the-go, I give my boy his snack trap full of Cheerios or Joe-Os as soon as I take him out of the crib! I get him changed and dressed, and he can snuggle and chat with daddy in our bed for a bit while I take a fast shower and get dressed myself.

    We are almost always EXACTLY on time for preschool, never early. But I pride myself on exiting the car at one minute til :-)

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  32. Natalia D Says:

    I try to prepare max. things in the evening and in the morning just reheat it.

  33. John Says:

    I am pretty organized and could find my stuff even with closed eyes. So it is easy for me in the mornings.

  34. Tara Says:

    Cereal, cereal and more cereal! Ok, so I’m not the greatest cook, but its a family favorite for breakfast!

    giveawayblogs at gmail dot com

  35. Debra Says:

    I leave for work around 5:30 AM so the husband deals with the morning routine. That’s my big tip. Make the husband do it !

    (I keep a box of cereal in the office and bring in fresh fruit every day)

  36. Steph Says:

    fresh fruit and packaged crackers for when we’re really in a hurry!

  37. Laurie Says:

    My early bird secret is to walk through (in your mind) the day you will have! For instance, if I need to pick up the kids from school then go to soccer practice, I’d best have the soccer gear in the car. It’s amazing what you remember to bring when you step through each thing ahead of time.

  38. Anne Says:

    Instant oatmeal is our go to food to beat the morning rush

  39. Linda B. Says:

    These were actually rather helpful for me — good reminders! We have preschool this year, so have to be up an out of the house on schedule 3 days a week. Getting as much ready the night before is the only way I make it — bags in the car, shoes by the door, snack bag packed, etc.

    By the way, I LOVE the photo with your coffee cup and slippers. It is exactly how I am feeling as a Mommy this morning.

  40. Susan C. Says:

    Getting ready the night before always helps me – I’m never awake enough to do that in the morning!

  41. amber Says:

    We get through our mornings much more easily with cereal, fruit, and yogurt!

  42. Sarah L Says:

    When my kids were in kindergarten, I taught them to make their own breakfast in the mornings. We have cereal, bagels w/cream cheese or eggs. They are independent and it speeds up our morning routine

  43. Judith Says:

    Key with a family of 9 is organization and planning. Menus planned ahead. Everyone has their responsibilties.

  44. Katie Says:

    Nobody in my house is a morning person so we need really quick breakfasts so everyone can eat as quickly as possible. Cereal is a standby, as are frozen bagels and toast.

  45. Jessie C. Says:

    I always try to get everything ready the night before, from lunch bags to breakfast setting. For quick breakfast, Greek yogurt with fresh fruit can always do the trick.

  46. Eva Says:

    I like to have cereal in the mornings since it literally takes 3minutes to make!

    evil_eva12 at hotmail dot com

  47. Lisa Says:

    I set my clocks ahead too (though my husband always changes them back, saying it doesn’t work) and I also plan in my head a half hour earlier than I need and I usually make it on time. :) By the way, I LOVE Bug’s shoes in that photo.

  48. Debra F Says:

    My husband and I divide and conquer. He gets the boys breakfast. I get their teeth brushed and dressed. He packs the lunches. I pack the backpacks. I leave for work. He takes them to the bus. He leaves for work. Clockwork.

  49. Katherine C. Says:

    We get everything ready the night before, showers, backpacks, clothes. . .We usually eat cereal, yogurt or toast.

  50. nan lara Says:

    my only tip is with my preschooler is that i make sure the night before he knows he has school..so he’s not surprised by it

    nannypanpan at sbcglobal.net

  51. eunice b Says:

    Packing lunches the night before and keeping breakfast simple is our strategy!

    ~eunice b
    tigergal01 @gmail .com

  52. eunice b Says:



    ~eunice b
    tigergal01 @gmail .com

  53. Maria Says:

    Just get up early and pop-tarts, toasted or cold, helps alot.

  54. Leah Says:

    Start the kids into a early bedtime routine. Also, we place chore charts to show what they need to do after they wake up. The check off what they have done…This has really helped.


  55. Georgia Says:

    I usually have the clothes ready from the night before, get the waffles going then wake the kids. Still can be hectic, but then there’s the moments after the bus leaves and quiet sets in.

  56. Georgia Says:

    Tweeted your giveaway!

  57. Susan Smith Says:

    I get myself up 1/2 before the children to get ready and while the children are getting ready then I make breakfast of cereal, bagels, and frozen waffles

  58. Susan Smith Says:


  59. Nicole Says:

    I like to set bowls, spoons, and cereal out the night before. Our breakfast staples include cereal, milk, toast, fruit, and juice.

  60. sy Says:

    we stock up on lots of cereal so we can grab them and go. bananas and berries help too.
    songyueyu at gmail

  61. sy Says:

    i tweeted:http://twitter.com/syytta/status/24912458999

  62. Jill H Says:

    We make sure we have lunch and backpacks packed the night before to help with the morning rush.

  63. Jill H Says:



    Thanks so much!

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  65. Grammy T. Says:

    Quick foods like toast or breakfast meal bars are always handy and to light a fire? The countdown is always effective.

  66. MARY Says:

    I live with my daughter and she sets all the clocks fast and I forget she did it so I end up on time.

  67. MARY Says:

    I tweeted

  68. Bri Says:

    We make school / work days easier by getting up 30 – 45 minutes earlier than we need to, giving us plenty of time to get ready and prepare for the day :)

  69. Milissa Says:

    Well, I am actually a morning person. I can get more done in the morning before the rest of the family is awake, than I can in the evening. I do laundry, do the dishes and even make trips to the grocery store at 6am. It is just easier to get stuff done in a timely and efficient manner without the rest of the family interrupting me.

  70. Dee Says:

    High fiber cereal and fruit but I prefer oatmeal – warm and easy to make! :)

  71. barbara wright Says:

    My daughter is 17 and sets her own bedtime and getting up time. She gets everything ready the night before, and we have a white-board on the refrigerator where everyone writes down anything they need (signed, bought, or found), so there are never any first thing in the morning surprises. We get out of bed at 6:21, and are driving to the bus stop by 6:33. I used to make her muffins to eat once she got to school (her stomach can’t handle her eating before she gets on the bus), but then I discovered bagels. They don’t make crumbs! So she eats them in class every day

  72. Deb Anderson Says:

    Having plenty of fresh fruit, cereal, juice, wheat muffins and milk on hand means I always have a nutritious breakfast that takes only moments to prepare!

  73. Deb Anderson Says:


  74. Lisa Foster Says:

    I always shower and iron my clothes the night before. I also set out my cereal bowl and cereal or oatmeal and have the coffee set to be made when I get up.

  75. Lisa Foster Says:


  76. shel Says:

    We start going to bed earlier about 2 weeks before school starts and waking up to the alarm clock in the morning to get us back into the swing of getting up early. It also helps to lay out clothes and find missing shoes the night before so there’s no panic search-and-destroy mission in the morning.

  77. Samantha Daleo Says:

    The biggest secret for us so far has been preparation the night before. My daughter takes her shower the night before and lays out her clothes. I pack her lunch and get her backpack together. We even plan out little things like how she wants to wear her hair, what accessories she wants to wear and what she wants for breakfast. The lesser we have to do or think about in the morning, the better!

  78. PauleyD Says:

    We prepare ahead of time. Regular Bedtimes are important. We set out their uniforms the night before, and have most of their lunch packed ahead of time.

    pauleyd68 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  79. Christine Says:

    Picking out the day’s clothes the night before makes a huge difference.

  80. Kim Says:

    We make sure the backpacks are filled and the breakfast basics are on the table the night before.

  81. Annette D Says:

    We like to have a simple, easy breakfast on school days like cereal with low fat milk.

  82. Annette D Says:

    tweeted http://twitter.com/annedoggett/status/24988489838

  83. Lewis F Says:

    For me the quickest breakfast his a healthy protein shake with fresh fruit.

  84. Sarah L Says:

    Smoothies are a big hit around here. Thanks for the contest.

  85. trishden Says:

    Hello, our morning routine consists of breakfast that is usually cereal, frozen waffles or an occasional egg with toast. Nothing fancy or time consuming. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  86. Lori Z. Says:

    Making a batch of pancakes or waffles and ahead of time and having them frozen in the freezer has helped tremendously with our morning routine.

  87. Shannon Says:

    I prepare the night before and usually have something simple like cereal or oatmeal with fruit for breakfast

  88. won Says:

    I find no matter how hard….it is important to not hit the snooze more than once. It may feel good at the moment, but to start out rushed is just yucky.

  89. Heather Says:

    I’m also big on doing anything I can the night before. But I’ve gotten into making the kids breakfast/lunch for her 3 days of daycare all at once. That way, I don’t have to do it each night before.
    Also have figured out, that instead of packing a giant bag of stuff for daycare, to leave a bunch at daycare. Clothes, toys, undies, all get left there. So all we have to bring is the kid and the food.
    Nothing to think about in the morn except getting out the door!

  90. LAMusing Says:

    I am NOT a morning person! The only thing that helps is to lay out my clothes and any important papers, etc the night before. Also a “To Do” list helps when I’m still groggy.

  91. Norma Says:

    I stay up way too late – thank goodness I’m retired now. When I have to get up early, I make myself go to bed earlier – enough sleep is the only thing that makes my morning go smoothly.

  92. Tracy Robertson Says:

    Well, I’m lucky that I was able to make my own work schedule, so I never start before 1 pm. I am not really a morning person, LOL!

  93. Julie L Says:

    The only left going to school is my daughter who is a junior in h.s…but I am lucky-she always plans out her outfit the night before,her books in her packback etc.
    thanks for the giveaway

  94. hannah Says:

    I don’t have much of a story to share I’m afraid, as I don’t have children yet! As for getting my husband off to work smoothly, I find things work best if I have clothes ironed and ready the night before, and breakfast planned.
    Usually it is just cold cereal, but sometimes I make a full breakfast of bacon eggs and pancakes!
    aigcanada7 at hotmail dot com

  95. hannah Says:

    tweet as per the blogher official rules :)


    aigcanada7 at hotmail dot com