Tired of the morning madness? The cries, sluggishness, and cranky attitudes? If you feel like you’re running a marathon surrounded by chaos before daylight every day, you’re not alone. Getting an entire family up, dressed, fed, and out the door at an early hour is often a recipe for disaster (or at least a meltdown or two!). But things can be different.

Say goodbye to manic starts once and for all. Here are 10 fun and creative ways to make mornings less stressful:

Crank the music up, not off

Music is an instant mood booster, and helps gets everyone moving faster. Consider making a morning playlist with upbeat tunes like “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars, “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, and “Roar” by Katy Perry. Let your children help choose the songs.

Turn the morning finish line into a competition

Who’s ready first? Reward that person with a special prize. Or drop them off last, if possible. If the kids are old enough, the competition doesn’t have to be chaos. Make each family member own their actions and schedule.

Buy fun alarm clocks for everyone

Alarm clocks don’t have to be ear-piercing, blaring monstrosities. For a twist, consider the bullseye clock, the runaway alarm clock with wheels, or the stoplight clock for the little ones. They’re a fun way to rise and shine.

Pretend you’re getting ready for an adventure

If your child enjoys dress up, make mornings the start of an adventure. Each day can have a different theme. For example, Monday could be all about Harry Potter, Tuesday could be Princess Day, and so on. Lay out the costumes the night before to make getting dressed a breeze. And don’t forget to participate. Even if you’re headed to work, you can toss on a crown, cape, or hat to play along.

Create an easy-to-follow checklist

Create morning-time charts to help keep your family organized and on track. If your kids are little, use pictures instead of words. Include things like “get dressed,” “make bed,” “pack homework,” and so on. Divide the chart into two columns labeled “Do” and “Done.” This helps family members know what’s expected of them and gives them a brief reminder if you happen to be too busy to ask.

Dangle a carrot (with a fun perk)

If you find they’re still dragging their feet, don’t hesitate to entice them with a perk. Shut off all devices including their iPad and TV until they step into gear. Coax them with weekend fun like going to see a movie or visiting the park. This is not bribery. This is give-and-take and rewarding good behavior.

You can also use the “When… then” technique. Identify one thing that your child loves about morning time and make that thing contingent on them being done with the rest of the things on their morning routine checklist. For example, “After you brush your teeth and put your shoes on, you can make your own sandwich to take to school.”

Start a gratitude ritual

As stressful as mornings are, be grateful for the start of a new day. Start a gratitude ritual with your family. Find one positive thing each morning to be thankful for. It can be a simple as new soap that smells good or something deeper like Uncle Tim surviving a recent heart attack. Positivity is contagious, and good for the soul.

Make breakfast a surprise

Make breakfast fun and suspenseful. Write down the day’s breakfast options on small pieces of paper. Place the slips into a hat or bowl and have your child choose what they’ll eat for breakfast that morning. Or surprise your child with character-shaped fruit slices or pancakes.

Hum to stay calm

Humming has a soothing effect. The increased oxygenation of the blood causes feelings of relaxation. It can also mesmerize those around you. Think of the Sirens from Greek mythology. They enchanted sailors with their singing and humming. Turn the hums into a game of “Name That Tune” as you and your family get ready to head out for the day.

And no matter how the morning goes, try to end it on a positive note.

What tips do you have for making mornings less stressful? Share in the comments!