Innovation in morning routines: It's the little things

I was thinking a lot over the summer about how I could make the morning routine easier during the school year. Those of you who have been reading forever know that I lost at least four levels of complexity in the move from NYC to Michigan: my kids walk across the street instead of all of us taking the subway together for 45 minutes, I am working from home instead of going to an office so no more commute for me (45 minutes plus another 25 minute leg on days I took the kids to school, 65 minutes when it was just me), because of no subway ride we can leave for school 50 minutes later, that means 45 more minutes of sleep for me.

But still, by the end of the school year last year I was feeling pushed by all the stuff I had to do to get the kids out the door. I am tempermentally unsuited to do everything the night before, and have accepted this about myself. But I did shift duties around in time and reassign responsibility, and it's going so well this year.

Here's what we're doing:

1. Final homework check and signing off on assignments we do at night, so everything's packed except lunches. I appraise the lunch and breakfast and clothes situation.

2. The boys are responsible for getting themselves dressed and making their own breakfasts. Once they're dressed and have eaten, they may play video games, and this carrot means I only have to remind them once and they both hop to it. (They're 10.5 and 7.5.)

3. I pack lunches.

4. We sit around chatting about the upcoming day and week for fifteen minutes before they have to leave the house. Super-chill, and they go off happier, and I'm more ready to sit down and work as soon as they leave.

The whole lynchpin of this system is that the kids are making their own breakfast (toast or oatmeal and fruit), and they come out of their rooms dressed.

I feel like a supergenius. What innovations have you made this year that are making things go more smoothly? What thigns are you struggling with that we could help you troubleshoot?