School starts bright and early next week for my little guy—so this past week has been full of shopping for last-minute supplies, practicing schedules and brainstorming ways to make the regimented mornings easier on everyone.

Because this is my son’s last year of preschool, I’m trying to work on him being a little more independent to help prepare him for the big Kindergarten next year. Things we are working on include getting himself dressed, having him brush his teeth, putting his shoes on and combing his hair. The independence just comes with some effort on my part, too: I’ve found that I will be preparing and putting together his stuff the night before the school day.

Here are a few ways that I plan to encourage independence, promote a healthy, self-sufficient little guy and make my routine a little easier!

1. Prep the night before

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From lunches to outfits, when I prep things the night before, my mornings always run a little smoother. This year I plan to lay his outfits out along with his backpack and other school essentials. And the more meal-prep I can do the night before, the better!

2. Help plan outfits ahead of time

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We’ve started to reach that age where my little guy loves to pick his outfits out. To ensure that our mornings run smoothly and we have no meltdowns about what he’s going to wear, I’ve decided that we will plan the week of outfits on Sundays. I labeled the days of the week on hangers, which not only make it easier for him, but also helps him learn and recognize the days of the week. If you prefer drawers, label zip-lock bags with the days of the week on them and stow them away until the day arrives.

3. Put things at eye-level for them

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I’ve noticed that if things are eye-level or within reach, my little guy is more likely to take action himself. This year, I hung a coat rack in his room that’s the perfect level for him and nicely holds his backpack, lunchbox and jacket. Doing this in the bathroom is also a great idea. Keeping their toothbrush and combs at a nice level allow them to access those things on their own, which means fewer calls for “Moooom“!

4. Write out a morning checklist (for both of you)

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To make sure they haven’t forgotten anything—and I haven’t forgotten anything—a morning checklist is always handy. List the morning duties in chronological order, such as going potty, getting ready, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, grabbing backpack and going to school. This is a nice visual to have around to help us all out. Here’s a children’s morning routine printable I’m using as we get into the swing of school again.

5. Make breakfast the night before

Along with prepping everything else, make-ahead breakfast items are always great to have on hand to make the mornings easier. Favorites around our house include frozen yogurt tubes, pancake bites and breakfast burritos. (Not only are they delicious, but one batch lasts for days or even weeks at a time.)

Armed with these plans, I’m confident that going back to school will be a smooth morning transition—for all of us.