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Monday, October 17, 2011

Making mornings smoother with an evening routine

Those of you who read the last post in this series might have anticipated today’s topic? What better way to prepare for a stress free morning than with a little evening preparation!

Each evening I make an effort to complete the following items:

Prepare lunch
Choose everyone’s clothing
Put together a reminder list for the morning
Pack Sweetpea’s preschool bag
Load the dishwasher
Lay out or write down (on the reminder list) breakfast ideas
Identify wake up plan

I find that the best time to pack lunches is as I’m cleaning up after dinner. I believe this elegant and effective idea came to me via Meagan Francis on twitter. If we have enough food for a meal later in the week, I package it accordingly, and the remainder is portioned into lunch sized containers and put either in the refrigerator or the freezer. If we have a lot of food already in the fridge, it’s nice to have some things stashed in the freezer for later!

Both girls like to choose their clothing (already!) and given the option would change their minds multiple times each morning. To reduce this frustrating time suck, we choose outfits ahead of time and I have them get dressed at daycare. Somehow they never have outfit attitude with the daycare provider like they do for mama. I pack clothes in the daycare bag and put it in the car the night before. I also carry an extra pair of shoes in the car for each child – I don’t want to admit the number of times one of them has arrived without footwear…

I am a list mama, and if I need to remember something – especially in the morning – it needs to be written down. An added bonus of this strategy is that it helps me decompress and empty my brain at the end of the day, which makes it easier to relax and unwind. The last thing I want is for my mind to be racing when I finally get to lie down at night. This list goes under my car keys on the kitchen counter.

Sweetpea started preschool this fall, and her class made special bags for transporting to and from school each day. Anything that needs taken to school gets packed into that bag, and projects or notes to parents come home in the bag each day. I empty the contents and reload as necessary. This bag gets put into the car the night before so it doesn't get left behind.

It’s funny how a pile of dishes in the sink when I wake up bothers me – the thought of them sitting there all day, waiting for me to return home is what gets me. Somehow I don’t mind them at all when my bed is singing its siren song at the end of the day. To keep myself from being tempted to waste precious time in the morning, I rinse and load anything that is dishwasher safe and call it “good enough”.

As with lunch, a little prep for breakfast is a big help. I try and have two options available to give the girls a choice in the morning. They love to be in control of their breakfast (are you noticing a pattern here?!) and I like to be able to give at least the impression that I’m being flexible and giving the girls their way!

Wake up plan – this is the topic for the next blog post in this series – for now suffice it to say that I spend time thinking about how I’m going to get the girls up and at ‘em each morning. They like some predictability, but we also like to mix it up from time to time.

Do you have an evening routine? What tasks do you complete each evening in order to smooth out your mornings?

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Monday, October 10, 2011

No More Morning Mania! Tips for more peaceful mornings...

Going back to work has brought crazy back to our mornings. I hate it when my failure to plan causes melt downs, stress and widespread grouchiness. It's so much nicer to savor the mornings at a leisurely pace than to rush through them sprinting to the car in a desperate attempt to be on time.

This is the first in a series on making mornings more peaceful -regardless of what your day might hold, I hope you'll find some ideas that get it started in a positive way, and in turn share what works for you!

First things First: Have a plan, write it down, review/revise it as needed, and STICK TO IT! For me, that means a morning and evening routine and a wake up time that allows me time to reflect and get prepared before the rest of the family wakes up. A plan also allows me to be realistic about what I can get done before leaving the house, and a minimum list of accomplishments that, once complete, mean the day will get off to a good (enough) start. It's amazing what I think I can do the next morning when I'm wilting from exhaustion and just want to go to bed...my routine keeps me honest and provides a bit of a reality check.

Do you have a morning and/or evening routine? How often do you revise it?

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