I’ve asked around, and the #1 thing most moms seem to want help with is making their mornings easier. I can relate to that 100%! So many articles and posts out there will tell moms to wake up a “few” minutes earlier to get some time to do what they need to do before the kids wake up. I can’t imagine that a mom came up with that piece of advice! What mom can sacrifice ANY sleep? Can’t! What I have found, is that there is no one, or even 2 things you can do to make your morning easier. More so, what works one month, may not work the next! I’ve had to adapt my morning routine as my kids have gotten older or as their schedules change. What worked last year, doesn’t work for me this year and so on….
In this post, I’ll include some of the morning hacks and techniques I’ve used over the last few years and I hope some of them will work for you too! If I have one main tip, it’s to be flexible and adapt. Try a few of the ideas below and if one doesn’t work for your situation, try another one. But don’t try them all at once – you don’t want to make too many drastic changes or you (and your family) might get stressed out.
Okay… on to the tips!
- Make a clear schedule for each morning of the week (and update it weekly)!
If you and your spouse work, you probably have some early morning meetings that you need to get to. Maybe you have a morning where you can’t drop the kids off even though you normally do drop-offs. I’ve found that talking through your morning commitments and coordinating with your spouse helps prevent early morning stress. Even if you think you’ll remember, once the week starts it’s just too easy to forget until the morning of (if at all!). So talk through those commitments during the weekend, and adjust your wake up time (and alarms!) accordingly.
- Make a clear morning To-Do list or lists for your kids.
I have a checklist for my 6 year old that reminds him to get dressed, put his PJ’s away, use the bathroom, brush he teeth, go downstairs and put his shoes on, pick a snack, and get his breakfast etc. It has worked great, except that the To-Do list has typically stayed upstairs. I am actually planning to make a list for upstairs tasks and another for downstairs tasks soon. I think that will help him stay more focused once he gets downstairs. Making to-do lists can also work great even if your little one can’t read yet – you can use pictures!
Here’s a great and simple way to make the To-Do list interactive and more engaging! Click here.
- Meal Plan on the weekends, to include everyone’s lunches.
Having what you need on hand, and what you are going to eat for each meal ahead of time simplifies everything! You won’t waste time trying to decide what to assemble for meals or packed lunches, and you won’t come up with something only to find that you don’t have all the ingredients you need! That can be such a pain! If you haven’t already gotten my Meal Planning downloadable, click here to sign up and get it! This free download will help you plan out all your meals and assemble a grocery list so that you can be sure you have everything you need all pre-planned out! It also includes a template for storing your family’s favorite meals so that you can reference it for inspiration later when meal-planning!
By having your lunches planned out ahead of time, you can quickly assemble lunches the night before you need it, or the morning of, without spending too much extra time and without wasting time trying to figure out what you should put together. This may seem minor, trust me… it will reduce stress and save you time! It can also save you money because you’ll be less likely to decide to eat lunch out or have your kid get lunch at school.
I used to cringe when my son asked for something warm. It meant that I’d need to heat up some water (and standby while it warmed), pour it into the thermos, then heat the food and so on. You know the routine I’m sure! It takes time. With an electric water heater, you can quickly run downstairs after waking up, turn it on, and get on with your routine until you’re ready to use the hot water. No wasted time standing by the water, and no extra stress of multitasking more than you absolutely have to! (Plus, it’s safe because stuff always comes up and you won’t accidentally walk away from a pot of hot water or something else…)
- Get a coffee maker that you can schedule the night before!
I’m a bit of a coffee snob. I’m picky and I used to make my coffee in a French press. I still love the coffee that comes from a French press or a pour-over system, but it takes time! Similarly, a standard coffee machine takes time in the morning to setup and make the coffee … and chances are you end up with a cold cup of coffee at least a few times a week – right? Well, with a coffee machine that you can pre-schedule, you’re able to setup the night before and then wake up to a hot cup of coffee! Best yet, your cup will be ready and hot by the time you get to the kitchen so you can nurse it as you go about the rest of your morning and actually enjoy it while it’s hot!
BONUS: You can combine #5 and #6 by getting the new Oxo Barista Brai
n 12-Cup Coffee Maker! I got this machine last weekend and I love it! I was on the search for a new programmable coffee maker and the salesman at the store sold me on this one when he told me that I can program it to make coffee AND hot water at once! With just one appliance, I can pre-program both coffee and water and simplify my morning! I love it!
- Freeze Sandwiches!
This is one of my favorites! Did you know that you can freeze most sandwiches? The best part is that you can put them in a lunch bag still frozen in the morning, and leave it out all morning. By lunch time, your sandwich will have defrosted and be room temperature! It will be ready to eat with such little effort! It will also act as an ice-pack in your lunch bag! Just make sure to put the item you need to keep cold (like a cheese stick) close to the frozen sandwich or it might not be kept cold enough.
Here are a few examples of what you can freeze:
- Peanut Butter and Jelly (or a peanut-free spread and jelly). To be able to freeze it and avoid soggy bread, just put the PB on both slices of bread and the jelly in the middle. This will keep the jelly from wetting the bread.
- Cream Cheese. This one is simple… just put cream cheese on the bread and freeze.
- Lunch Meat. For this sandwich you’ll need to omit the veggies like lettuce and tomato since they don’t freeze well. You can put them in your lunch bag separately if you really want them. You can however include condiments like ketchup and mustard. Like the jelly, you’ll just need to put them in the middle. Put the cold cuts on each slice of bread and then put the condiment in the middle. This will keep them from wetting the bread.
- Cheese Sandwiches. This are the most simple to assemble! Just put the cheese on the bread and freeze!
- Grilled Cheese. Almost as simple as the cheese sandwiches. I make these in big batches by melting butter and brushing it on a bunch of bread. Then I put the bread butter side down on a pan and add cheese on top. Then I top that with another slice of bread and brush the remaining butter on the top of the bread. I then pop it in the oven until they brown. Using this method, I’m able to make 10 sandwiches at once!
- Egg Salad. This one surprised me but it works. I think the mayo protects the bread but I’m not really sure. I’ve read that miracle whip works better than mayo when making the egg salad but regular may hasn’t bothered me.
- Tuna Sandwich. This one is similar to the egg salad one. I’ve been told that miracle whip works best but mayo hasn’t bothered me.
- Make breakfast as kid friendly as possible.
If your kid is 4 or older, try to find ways that your little one can get their breakfast themselves, or at least get started. This post includes two great products that will help your little ones serve themselves breakfast in the morning. If they don’t like breakfast, you can also make sure that you have cereal bars or yogurt within easy reach.
If your little one is under four, and especially if they are picky, you can take pictures of their favorite things to eat and show them the pictures in the morning (have them printed so they can look through them while you do something else). When they’ve decided what they want, they can show you the card so you can do what you need to do while they make their decision.
- Pick your clothes out for the WEEK on the weekend!
I talk about this more in my Laundry Routine Hack Downloadable which is available in my Resource Library, but here’s the basics…It takes very little extra effort to assemble outfits while you fold clothes. So assemble them when you’re doing laundry on the weekend so that you don’t need to search for the items you want to wear in the mornings. I can’t tell you how many times I went on a hunt for a specific shirt and wasted precious time! This will also help your kids! This way, if they are following their To-Do list mentioned above, they know what to wear without having to ask you and without destroying their closet. My son seems incapable of pulling a shirt out of a pile without dropping the entire pile on the ground.
- Assemble a bag for each after school activities the weekend before.
My son does karate and swimming after school. I can’t tell you how many times I wasted time in the morning looking for his swimsuit or goggles. Worse yet, on multiple occasions, I’ve sent my son to school without his Gi! If you assemble a bag for each after school activity and keep them by the front door or in the garage, you won’t waste time in the morning searching for what you need or have to rush home from work to get the items if you forget!
- Keep library books in your kids’ backpacks!
Tell me if this sounds familiar to you… Someone, anyone, realizes that it’s library day, but no one can find the library books. Happens all the time, right? It used to happen to me at least once a month! This s why I made a rule that my son’s library books need to “live” in his backpack. When he wants to read it, he takes it out, and then puts it right back. It’s a simple change, but this way, you’ll never forget the book at ho me!
- Set alarms in your phone or wherever, for wake up and departure times.
Many people set wake-up alarms but few people’s I’ve talked to have alarms for when they need to leave. I find that this is key! Set it for about 5 minutes before you need to leave for real. This will serve as a reminder to leave in case you get caught up in something. If you use your phone, you can also include a note in the alarm. I’ll use this note to include reminders like “Grab Karate Bag” or “Don’t need lunch today” etc. This way, no matter how hectic the morning is, so long as I lo
ok at my phone when the alarm rings, I won’t forget anything!
So what do you think? Will you be trying any of these? Do you have any others to add? I’d love to hear how these worked for you or if you have any more to include! Best of luck tomorrow morning!