Sour milk on the cereals, yoghurt spilt all over the carpet, the wrong kind of cornflakes, forgetting your purse and cringingly asking to borrow money from a fellow mum you hardly know to pay for school lunch, jumper inside out, train tickets left on the side in the hall, a ladder…no scaffolding in your only pair of stockings when you’ve got unshaven legs….worst still no child in the backseat when you glance up at the rear view mirror. Ever actually forgotten a kid? No? See…you’re doing so well!
Most busy mums will experience one or even all of these harrowing moments at some point. Mornings are bad enough – especially for night owls like me that love their sleep…but when you have others to wake, feed, wash and dress as well making yourself look respectable then mornings can be hell. So here are my top 10 tips to getting prepared for a calmer morning BEFORE your head hits the pillow!
1. Get into a routine
Like it or not most days follow a similar routine…particularly school days. So try to get into a good routine both pre-bedtime and in the morning too. Use a culmination or a few of the following as you work out what goes down best in your household!
2. Learn to love a list!
If its not a routine day…or you’re a beginner at “mornings at ease” then write a list. If you have a lot on at work and things are playing on your mind…write a list. Every parent knows that the night before a school trip or an important early meeting can leave the mind reeling so jot down the key things you need to do or remember. You’ll probably sketch out a list too long for even wonder-woman to manage but writing it down will allow you to relax, to park that “school night” angst and to sleep better. That’s a good start to the day at least!
3. Work out your wardrobe
Choosing a well coordinated outfit and matching underwear is nigh on impossible whilst juggling breakfast, answering small child questions, making them do anything relating to self hygiene and applying some make up. So lay out your clothes the night before so all you need to do is jump into them. I can admit (for the good of my fellow working mums) having arrived at the office wearing two odd shoes, an inside out cardigan and a red bra with sheer white blouse. It was a very bad day to be presenting to our investors. Don’t risk it… ever!
4. Get the family’s clothes laid out ready too
Do you remember the ladybird book about the Elves and the Shoemaker? Wasn’t it great to have elves like that when you were a kid… you could leave things all around the house and you would awake to neatly pressed uniform, polished shoes and PE kit all laid out ready to go. I was a bit fed up that the elves didn’t show up when I left home and I’ve learnt to my peril why the elves always did their work before going to bed. Let’s face it…if it’s not done the night before then the kids are going to school creased and destined for lost property at PE time. No doubt about it!
5. Take a breakfast order
Getting breakfast prepared before waking the whirlwind will generally save you a lot of time and a hell of a lot of mess. H likes to start decorating her breakfast if she gets up in time…with icing, popping candy and hundreds and thousands normally ending up all over the kitchen…between my toes and in her hair. I now take her order just before the bedtime lullaby and lights out. Not only can you prepare in peace but you can avoid a tiredness tantrum wrecking your day before 8am simply because you didn’t, and could never have possibly known that she wanted a toasted bagel with chocolate spread on one side, butter on the other and a honey squirt on the side of her plate!!
6. Make pack lunch prep as hazard free as possible
I like to make sandwiches fresh each morning but it’s best not to leave yourself with decisions to make…and to avoid rummaging about amongst half eaten pots and packets in the fridge with yr eyes half open. Too many times I’ve been juggling ham, butter and mayo whilst dodging cherry tomatoes as they roll and inevitably split in a mess all over the kitchen floor, trying to ensure the (open) cottage cheese doesn’t topple off its precarious place atop a jar of olives…which you really shouldn’t have placed right on the edge of the shelf. Semi-prep while your still wide awake, get the pack lunch essentials selected and placed right at the front of the fridge to avoid a very messy morning avalanche.
7. Set the alarm
…and set it 15 minutes earlier than needed. Even if it’s to give you a bit longer in the shower or time for a few emails with a relaxed cuppa before Armageddon. At least you’ll be calm and ready for the day ahead, maybe even set some work in motion before you even reach the office…and at the absolute least you’ll be showered. Oh little did I know that I’d end up luxuriating in those occasional few moments when I can let the hot water run over me without holding the door shut, explaining how condensation occurs or being asked to look at the contents of the toilet which are obviously something of great pride for a small child!
8. Use the bottom stair…carefully
I like the bottom stair…as an aide memoir. Leaving on it essential items to be taken to school or office or dropped off somewhere on the way. Surely if I see it as I walk out the door I’ll remember. I am bemused to admit it’s success rate is probably only about 85% but I still feel it’s worthy of the list. But be warned it’s danger rating as a trip or slip hazard is also pretty high too…in fact I’m my own worst enemy for “Lego moments” with bare feet on the stairs…so use with caution.
9. Make some “Me time”
Try to take at least some time to relax before bed. Whether you like to watch TV or maybe even read…I choice either depending on my mood but my “me time” essential is investing just 3 minutes a day to properly cleanse, tone and moisturise…with a DIY facial massage. I don’t know why but this always makes me feel so much better and signals the time for rest. Time in the morning is limited and normally it’s YOU that will be left to the bottom of the list. Grab the time when you can and try to make it part of your routine!
10. Don’t be too hard on yourself
I’d be a hypocrite to pretend I do all of these things. In fact I am a morning disaster and any articles I’ve read on this subject before have been nigh on useless to me or have made me feel like a very inadequate mother for my complete lack of domesticity. So I decided to think about the things I DID do well as well as what I did wrong. And from this I came up with a “must start to do” list for all the REAL busy working mums out there. And even if we choose just one or two new things that help, going to bed positive will also make a huge difference. So let’s stop dreading mornings any longer… we’ve got this!!
I’m sure readers will have loads more fab tips to add to the list…I’d love to hear about them…please comment on my blog below or on my Facebook page! L x