Want to know how to set your morning up for success? Even implementing one of these ideas can make a big difference!
I’m a mom of 4 boys. Three are in school, 2 need to be out of the house by 8. And one toddler who likes to wake me up at the crack of dawn and also is sent out for a few hours in the mornings. I constantly need to be ahead of the game in the morning. In fact, I need to be ahead of the game in the evenings in order to be ahead in the mornings.
Fact #1: I am not a morning person.
Fact #2: I am not proud of this. I routinely stay up way past the time I should be in bed because I’m a night owl, and I treasure with all my heart these precious hours after my kids are in bed and the house is QUIET.
Fact #3: I reconcile these two facts by utilizing fact #2 to facilitate a smoother morning despite fact #1.
My baby generally wakes me at anywhere between 5 and 5:15. He’s temporarily in our room due to extenuating circumstances despite his advanced age of 18 months. Therefore, he is fully aware that I am close at hand ready to cater to his every need.
By the time I hear him, he has also woken up his brothers next door. I am trapped feeding the baby, so all I can do is listen to my three boys playing, fighting, and somehow in all their spare time not managing to get themselves dressed. All the while I’m shaking my head and wishing that they understood how lucky they were to have this extra time that they could have used to sleep, and reflecting on the revenge I shall inflict on them when they are teenagers, and actually want to sleep in the morning.
So here are a few things I usually (USUALLY!) accomplish at night to make the mornings go more smoothly:
1. I make lunches the night before.
Now, this may seem like a fundamental and cliched idea. Yes, yes, everyone says to prep the lunches the night before. But it’s not that simple. Because if you make the lunch the night before, they might not be in the mood for that particular lunch in the morning. It really depends on your kids and their personalities.
I have 2 methods of lunch planning.
Method 1: I plan all of my kids’ lunches at the beginning of the week.
I look at my spreadsheet of foods they like, take the week’s schedule into account, and decide based on that information what they’ll be bringing to school each day – lunch, fruit or vegetable, and snack. For more details and a free lunch planning printable, check out my lunch planning post.
Method 2: Ask the kids.
As part of their nightly routine, while I’m sitting on their bed, I ask them what they would like for lunch the next day. My 7 and 5-year-olds occasionally make their own after dinner, especially if it’s cinnamon toast (they love making cinnamon toast). But that’s only allowed once a week, so most nights I do it. I plan to have my second grader making his own lunches next year. We’ll see. Sometimes things are just easier when we do them ourselves, but on the other hand, will that be teaching our children responsibility? Oh, parental choices…
The twist is–if they chose their lunch the night before, they can’t argue about or protest it in the morning. And I’m not giving them a menu here; it’s a choice of about 3 basic spreads on bread and occasionally another item like pancakes or French toast if I happen to have it stocked in the freezer. Which then saves us time to argue about the important things, like why they chose this morning to decide they don’t like the cornflakes they’ve been eating every single day for the past few years.
I even ask my 3-year-old about his preferences. He has a hard time every night choosing between peanut butter and jelly, or jelly and peanut butter
2. I finish my laundry folding at night.
Folding laundry, I find, is the kind of activity I see as a bit of a time waster. It requires sitting for long periods when there is so much else to be done. It’s even hard to read while doing it because you’re using your hands. This is painful for me, as a bookworm basically from birth. So I do it at night when all I feel like doing is sitting for long periods of time. In the peace. And. Quiet. I also use this laundry folding time to watch a TV show or listen to a podcast, so I’ll look forward to spending the time on myself.
3. Set out clothes for everyone.
Except for my husband, who somehow manages to find his clothes pretty quickly in the morning, everyone else gets their clothes folded neatly at the foot of their bed. My 5 year old prefers to choose his own shirt, but I at least put out his pants. This is something of a hint. Hey, you’re up already, and here are your clothes placed so conveniently right where you get out of bed! Maybe you should think about–okay this is a wild idea, but bear with me–putting them on before you get on with your day?
Sometimes it even works! They come into my room fully dressed! These are the days when I feel like I may be winning at this mothering thing.
If you have girls who don’t want you picking out their clothes, try doing it together as part of their bedtime routine.
4. Wash the dishes and clean out the sink.
There’s just something about putting the breakfast dishes into a clean, empty sink. And then leaving them there until the evening. Okay, I’m joking. These do get washed at some point in the morning, but it’s a much less overwhelming task when you’re not also faced with the dirty supper dishes from last night. I generally clean the kitchen too, but the sink is always non-negotiable.
5. Plan my to-do list for the next day.
I always find it easier when I get up in the morning and know exactly what I need to do that day, as opposed to figuring it out after everyone is in school and suddenly remembering that I needed my husband to run to the pharmacy on the way back from school drop-off.
I put any things that I need to remember before the morning exodus into my phone calendar, and it reminds me approximately 15 minutes before everyone needs to go. 15 minutes before is close enough that I won’t forget to remind them and long enough before that it can manage to be pushed off a minute or two if I’m in the middle of something. Then, once everyone is out, I can get on with what needs to get done instead of sitting down while feeding the baby breakfast and trying to plan while simultaneously scoring oatmeal goals into his mouth. From experience, that is hard if not impossible to do if I’m looking at my planner and not at his face and especially his hands, which are excellent goalies.
Sometimes this is the most important. If I’m good, I get all the above done early in the evening and am able to manage to get to this by 10 or so. Usually, it ends up being 11:30. I need time just to decompress and do something I actually enjoy (see reading, above) without trying to multitask it.
This is after years of trial and error. Maybe you find it easier to fold laundry in the morning when you have more energy. Or your kids get school lunch. Perhaps you have a cleaner come in the morning, and you’d rather save your dishes for her to do. Everyone has their things that are easier and harder for them, but have I got something fabulous for you!
Do you want to make over your evenings?
If you really want to make the most of your evenings, check out Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Evenings course. It will help you craft an evening routine that is perfect for you and your life, and bring more order to your life and home! I bought it years ago and loved it, and I do a refresher course every once in a while to get myself back on track! It has seriously revamped my evenings, and I feel so much more on top of things than I used to be!
If you can think of ONE thing that you find difficult in the morning, see if there’s something you can do the night before to make it a little easier. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!