Working parents who are struggling to get the kids up and ready in the morning will appreciate these tips from author and TEDx speaker Suzanne Brown. Here’s how to tighten up your morning routine…
Trying to get into a good groove and be efficient with your morning? I share my morning routine and a few tips in hopes of helping other working parents get the most out of their morning routine on school days. During the school year, I have to get two boys and myself ready and out of the house by 7.15am and to school by 7.30am.
Take time to hit your stride
If your mornings are really off routine-wise, it might take time to get into a new groove. Make small adjustments and get into the right rhythm long-term. That’s we how parents do it, right? Little adjustments that hopefully make a big impact. And you might have to change behaviours that your kids have, so know that tears might be in your future, at least initially.
Prepare the night before
One of the things that helps in our house is to use the night before to prepare and plan.
- Lay out clothes. We have young boys, but both of whom have opinions on what they wear. To save valuable time and avoid tears (sometimes mine), they lay out what they’ll wear the night before. I can provide input if necessary (eg. it’s going to be too hot for a long sleeve shirt). If it’s helpful, lay out your own clothing for the next day. I do this when I have meetings or presentations the next day. Changing clothes can take up valuable time in the morning, especially if I’m having an indecisive moment.
- Get backpacks or baby bags ready. Get diapers in the baby bag and labeled. Have any snacks that are pre- packaged (eg. granola bars)? Get them in there. Include a resealable plastic bag with an outfit that stays in your child’s backpack or diaper bag for easy access when/if accidents happen. Don’t forget to include socks. When accidents happen, they can happen all the way to your child’s feet. Make sure everything is labeled.
- Put things by the front door or in their place. Put items that need to go with you by the door or always in the same place (eg. all our kids’ items like shoes and backpacks go in same spot, the keys go by the front door on a hook). Have a consistent home for these items. That way you’re not wasting 10 minutes looking for them. In the morning, that is precious time. This is for your stuff, that of your significant other, and your kids.
- Get stuff ready for the next step. For example, the lunchboxes go on the counter with containers ready for cut up fruits and veggie or a sandwich. It cuts down on the rush in the morning, lets you know you have lids washed, clean containers, etc. And, on the off chance that you need your significant other to step in, you don’t have to explain what to use or where things are. It’s all ready, waiting for the next step and it cuts down on time in the morning because you’re not looking for anything.
- Can you prep anything for lunch the night before? Some parents I interviewed and am friends with prep sandwiches the night before. I don’t do that. I don’t generally cut up fruit until the morning of either because it can get mushy. I often wash and dry fruits or veggies the night before to shave off time in the morning. It all adds up.
Getting out the door
- Use a timer. Find yourself rushing with your kids to get out the door every single day? On mornings when timing really matters, I have been known to use a timer or alarm to get out of the house. Set two timers or alarms, one that goes off BEFORE you have to leave (eg. 10 minutes before) and then another timer/alarm for actual walk out the door time. Make sure your kids understand what the alarms mean. (eg. first alarm means it’s time to gather all things, get shoes on, and have teeth brushed and second is that time is up and it’s time to go).
- Have your kids count number of items. In our house, our boys need to remember five things: backpack, lunchbox, snack, water, sunblock/bug spray (yep, about half the year we need both of these last two). If you’re wondering when we started this, we started at age four. Huge help and a great tip from one of the pre-school teachers. It’s productive and teaches responsibility. Plus, it helps them with confidence-building. Helps you and helps your kids. Win-win!
- Bonus tip. Make breakfast-on-the-go options ahead of time for the days when you’re running behind. I make blueberry muffins and banana nut muffins and freeze them (check out the Mompowerment Pinterest board for these and other yummy easy recipes for on-the-go breakfast). In fact, I make these in double batches. I sometimes thaw them out overnight in the fridge if I know we’ve got a lot going on in the morning or pull them out in the morning to thaw if I’m up early. Or pop them in the microwave. And I’ve been known to make smoothies in double batches if we need breakfast-on-the-go a few days in a row. Our typical is banana with berries and carrots. Our boys LOVE them too.
Ideas for working parents in the morning
Want to start off your day a bit better? These ideas might help.
- Morning check-in. Before you even get out of bed, see how you’re doing and what adjustments you need to make for a better day. It takes moments, so it’s a small dose of self-care that can have a big impact on my day.
- Meditate. Maybe you’re feeling stressed or even if you woke up grumpy, consider meditating for a few minutes. Or you can extend it for however long you like, without throwing off your schedule. Start with some deep breaths, which can even help to lower stress. A few minutes of meditation can make you feel better. My favorite tool to help with meditating is www.calm.com.
- Exercise. If you have the time, go exercise. I usually get in some exercise a few times a week. In the summer months when it gets really hot in Texas, I have to work out early or else skip it. Check out my thoughts on getting in more exercise into your routine.
Hopefully, these tips will help decrease stress and start the day off with more smiles for all.
What does your morning routine look like? Do you have tips or steps that might help other working mums get their morning routine on track? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Suzanne Brown is a strategic marketing and business consultant, TEDx speaker, an expert on and advocate for professional part-time working mums and author of a forthcoming book, out in late-September. Mompowerment: Insights from Successful Professional Part-time Working Moms Who Balance Career and Family empowers mums to think differently about their career approach and work-life balance. www.mompowerment.com.