What works for us is nothing new - it's sticking to some basic routines and procedures. Here is our routine - for anytime we have to get up and out, whether to school, church or another activity:
1) Mom gets up first! This is crucial, even if it only an extra five minutes. This time to brush my teeth, gather my wits and begin the day is vita.
2) Wake everyone else. My baby boy (he's four) usually hears me and it quickly up. Firstborn quickly follows, but I have to wake and rouse my middle daughter. She's the only one who will sleep till nine if allowed. Everyone meets in the living room where they get to watch their "shows" (PBS).
3) Clothing is chosen the night before, so the children get themselves dressed as they watch their shows. Breakfast is served in the living room. We rotate through ceral, toast, bacon, biscuits, etc. Pancakes or scrambled eggs happen when Mommy wakes up and gets completely ready early. Within a half hour, everyone is dressed and fed.
4) Twenty minutes to go! This means they take turns brushing their teeth, while I help with hair and check over the outfits. Beds get made and the dishes or toys put away.
5) At five minutes, we start turning off lights, get lunches into backpacks and head out to the van.
The children are great about knowing the routine. We keep our backpacks and jackets on a hook by the garage door. Bible are on a nearby shelf for church days. I employ occassional prodding or reminding, and help the little guy quite a bit. But I'm thankful that our mornings are fairly predictable and calm. I do so much better to start the day this way.
Little things make it easier: choosing clothes the night before, packing lunches in advance. Are your mornings crazy or calm? Do you do have any hints or tricks to make things run more smoothly! I confess that I love the days my neighbor has carpool ... it gives me a few extra minutes to tidy myself and home.