I don’t know about you, but I always feel like September—not January— is really the start of a new year. Maybe it’s my ‘perpetual student’ nature, but when the calendar flips that page and yellow school buses start making their rounds, I get excited by all the new possibilities and experiences waiting for us. I know we still have more than two weeks left in August, but I’m gearing up to to embrace the start of a new school year, and all the changes that brings.
Down here in coastal North Carolina, most schools go back into session during the last week of August. For us that means we’re starting to adjust our schedules a bit so that we won’t be completely in shock when the alarm clock goes off on the 24th. But to be honest, I’m actually looking forward to having to get up earlier—I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that! Everyone who knows me, knows I LOVE to sleep, but I also love the quiet of the early morning hours. Since I started working from home, I’ve been slacking on getting myself moving early in the day. That’s all about to change.
I’m sure a lot of you are in the same boat, getting ready to embrace the school morning rush of making breakfast, packing lunches, signing papers, and trying to get everyone out the door on time. It’s not easy, but somehow we manage to do it. But what if we made a conscious effort NOW to eliminate or at least minimize the stress and chaos of the mornings and start everyone off with a calmer, happier attitude? How on earth can we do that?
Five Easy Ways To Have a Happier Morning
- Wardrobe Wars— Having kids put together their outfits the night before eliminates the ‘I can’t find my…. That’s not appropriate….That’s not clean” struggle. While you’re at it, put your own outfit together, complete with accessories. You’ll be surprised at what a difference this can make.
- Lunches—this is another area where you can eliminate stress in the morning by preparing the night before. Sandwiches can be made and wrapped ahead of time, left-overs from dinner can be portioned out and packaged up, fruits and veggies can be prepped and popped into containers. You can also involve the kids in this, teaching them how to pack a healthy lunch, and giving them a sense of ownership in their own choices.
- Showers and Baths—We know that bathing before bed helps us relax and prepare for restful sleep, as we discussed in the post about how to achieve better sleep, but doing this also takes one more thing off our plates in the morning. I know many of us rely on the wake-up power of a shower, but once you adjust to the new routine, you’ll find you get the same effect from washing your face and brushing your teeth. Not having the morning bathroom traffic jam, which often happens in families, can give you time to actually enjoy your cup of coffee or tea.
- Eat Something!—Starting off the day with a healthy, tasty breakfast is often the difference between havinga successful day, and having a super crappy, cranky, not very good day. I absolutely LOVE breakfast and can’t imagine skipping it voluntarily now, but for too many years I didn’t think I had enough time to eat anything in the morning. Fortunately, breakfast is a meal that is ridiculously easy to put together in advance and have ready and waiting for you. You can easily make overnight oats in the crockpot, pre-bake a quiche or breakfast casserole and then just heat up portions in the morning, or if you’re feeling international, have a European style breakfast of a couple of hard-boiled eggs (made ahead of course), some sliced meats, a bit of fruit and maybe some yogurt.
- Have an Exit Strategy— I like to have a spot near the door I use to leave the house, where I can keep the things I need to take with me that day. That way I can stage everything the night before—coat, purse/tote, keys, laptop, etc… and in the morning I just grab my lunch bag from the fridge, add it to the ‘pile’ and it’s all there waiting for me. This also works great for kids, allowing you to check that they have what they need all ready and organized for the next day. You can even incorporate checklists for them to use—extra points to you for laminating them and using a dry erase marker to physically checkoff each item they need.
You may have noticed a theme running through these suggestions….Do It Ahead. Mornings set the tone for the entire day ahead. Anything you can do the night before to make the morning run more smoothly, more calmly, more efficiently, is well worth the effort. Maybe you can’t or won’t use all of these, but implementing even two of them (any two!) can have huge payoffs. Give it a try, and see how you much better you feel.