We’ve all been there.
You’re searching high and low for your keys. The kids can’t find their shoes. Nobody’s eaten breakfast. You know if you don’t leave in two minutes, you’ll be late. Nobody has time to brush their teeth. You make it to the car and toss everyone a pop tart. You get to work and realize your socks are mismatched and you have a dryer sheet in your underwear. And you spend the rest of the day feeling like you’re recovering.
Sister. (Or brother. I don’t know you.)
If you think you’re the only one having mornings like this, you’re as wrong as you are beautiful. A few weeks ago, I found myself in the midst of one such morning thinking “If a trash can fire happened right now, it would be the least of my worries.” I realized I had gotten away from doing all the things I normally do to make our mornings more like a smooth and efficient fire drill, and less like trying to motivate a group of narcoleptic sloth children to find their own shoes in a labyrinth of flaming garbage. I’m trying to get back in the habit of making our mornings easier again, and I’m bringing you along for the ride. You have nothing better to do anyway. Might as well take a look into my bag of tricks.
1. Do your work ahead of time.
Have you ever given up for the night and gone to bed assuming you’d get up in the morning and energetically tackle all the work you feel unmotivated to deal with after 7 pm? Aaannnd has that ever come back around to bite you in the buns? Look, if you’re pooped before bed, chances are you’ll be pooped 8 hours later, and deferring your work is a pretty sure way to make sure you don’t get it done. Friend to friend, try to get it done at night, especially if it has a deadline. I mean, don’t get stupid. You still need your rest. Just try taking just 15 minutes to knock something out before you give up and become one with your couch. Your morning self will thank you for it.
2. Lay. Out. Everything.
I know you already have plenty of things to do at night, but this is where the kids pitch in and help too. In our house homework isn’t “done” until you’ve put it back in the backpack and it’s ready for the next morning, and part of the kids’ nighttime routine is laying out whatever they need for the next day. If you spend some time getting them into the habit of these things, they’ll be able to handle it themselves with an occasional reminder. Lay out your things too: clothes, shoes, jackets, bags, keys. If anything needs signed or packed or fluffed or washed, do it now. Prep lunches and breakfast. Set alarms. Get the coffee pot ready. Some people who work out first thing in the morning just sleep in their workout clothes. Find the morning tasks you can eliminate at night and DO IT.
3. Go to bed earlier
Here is where a lot of us struggle. The kids are in bed, the house is quiet(ish), and you finally get a chance to relax for a few
minutes hours. Pretty soon you’ve watched an entire season of something you don’t even care about and you’ve lost half a night of sleep you’ll never get back, along with a handful of brain cells.
I understand we don’t get enough time to relax, but sometimes we also really suck at taking care of ourselves. Do you remember before you were an adult when your mom used to make you go to bed at night? Babe. You’re the mom now. Nobody is going to make sure you get enough rest but you, and you gotsta have your rest. Have a bed time for yourself. Set an alarm on your phone if you need. But you’ve got to sleep. Netflix will still be there tomorrow.
4. Wake up earlier.
I know. For me this one is killer. Maybe you’re some kind of magical unicorn that springs out of bed every morning instead of sleepily doing the math to find the last possible second you can stay in bed…. and then maybe staying in bed slightly longer. I find giving up my sleep in the morning to be straight torture. The sacrifice is worth the reward though. Because if you can manage to get up and going earlier than you need to, you give your brain a little more time to function and you can focus on something other than getting out the door in record time, which it will inevitably leave you feeling a little less frazzled.
If you can find a way to be up before your kids, use the time to take care of yourself before you have to start taking care of everyone else. Pray or meditate (this does not work for me, I fall asleep). Listen to an audio book while you get a couple things done. Take a long, uninterrupted shower. Whatever blows your skirt up. Just make sure to grab a few minutes first thing in the morning to do something for you, something that will make the rest of your day better.
5. Stay off your phone.
Unless there is something seriously urgent, don’t even look at it. It will only distract you from things that will actually make your day better and more productive. Emails and social media can wait.
6. Do hair on the fly.
Sometimes doubling up on tasks is just the way to be. My boys’ hair is very uncomplicated, so we keep the hair gel close to the exit so we can just give them a quick swipe and send them on their way. If your process is longer than that, hand out your hair services while the kids eat their breakfasts or brush their teeth
7. Make breakfast easier.
I could talk about breakfast for at least an hour because there are just so many ways you can hack it so you’re only spending a few minutes on it every day. Cook a week’s breakfast in advance, have a theme (Monday-oatmeal, Tuesday-eggs, etc.), have a pantry breakfast ready to go, take one day a month to make a bunch of freezer breakfasts. There are so many possibilities. The internet is full of soooo many ideas. Just go forth and pinterest on this one.
8. Teach your kids to be independent
The more time your kids spend getting themselves ready, the less time you spend getting your kids ready. This might be a learning curve for them at first, and it takes some practice to establish a routine. But kids are usually capable of more than we give them credit for. If you take the time to teach them and equip them with the right tools, they can tackle just about anything you can throw at them, including packing their own lunch and being responsible for their own gear. They’re taking responsibilities off your plate and gaining life skills at the same time. Win-win.
Is there something you do that makes your mornings easier? Tell me in the comments!