Friday, August 24, 2012

Streamline Your Morning Routine

Have you seen the 1983 classic A Christmas Story?  It is one of my favourite movies of all time.  One of the reasons is because of the scene above.  Mom, at the stove preparing bacon, eggs, toast, oatmeal, coffee, juice and milk for her family before they head off for work and school.  I always dreamed of having a morning like that.  I can tell you right now, it never happened.  Ever.  OK, maybe on the weekend when there was that rare day that we did not have an early morning hockey practice or Mr. P did not have to run out for some plumbing emergency but this scene has never happened during the weekday when school was in.

It's almost time for the kids to go back to school and this will be the first time in 17 years that I don't have a child heading back.  I have to admit that Mr. P and I are doing a happy dance over that!  No shopping for school clothes, books, pencils, pencil crayons, back packs, lunch pails, and well, you get the picture.  And yet, I will miss those days dearly and I have a twinge of regret that I was never able to send them off like the mom in A Christmas Story.  Sometimes we set such high standards for ourselves, don't we?

This is a picture of my boys waiting for the school bus on one of their first days of school.

This is my youngest on his first day of school ever.  Excuse me while I wipe a tear!  How cute they were!

Alright, enough reminiscing and back to the topic at hand, which is, how to streamline your morning routine to get you out the door faster and with less stress.

Your morning routine actually starts the night before.  Try doing these following tasks the night before to make your morning run more smoothly:

1. Lay out your clothes for tomorrow including sock, undies, shoes and accessories.  Have everyone else do the same.

2. Program your coffee maker to come on before you roll out of bed.  There's nothing more enticing than the smell of fresh brewed coffee to make getting out of bed easier.

3. Program your thermostat so that the heat kicks on 30 minutes before you have to get out of bed.  Getting out of a nice warm bed when the room is still cold requires more willpower than saying no to dessert after 3 months on a diet!

4. Prepare your lunch or as much of it as you can.  If you don't like making your sandwich the night before because it gets soggy by lunch the next day, then place all the supplies that you will need to make it in the morning together in the fridge so that you can access it easily and know if you are out of something.

5. Check your calendar for the next day and prepare your to-do list.  This will get your mind wrapped around how you need to plan for your day to go smoothly.

6. Make sure you have enough gas in the tank of your car.  If not, fill it up after dinner instead of in the morning.

7.  Have one place where you put all the items that you need to remember to take with you the next day.  Make sure your keys are there and anything else you need to remember.  If something can't go in this spot (like the cupcakes you baked for your child's class) then put a post-it note on your keys so that you don't forget to grab them from the refrigerator.

8.  If you haven't already decided what's for dinner tomorrow, take a moment to think about it and take anything out of the freezer and place it in the fridge to defrost.

9.  Make sure that your child's backpack has everything that they will need for the day packed inside.  Do they need gym clothes, a book report, uniforms, etc.?  Make sure they are in there.

Now for the actual morning part of streamlining your morning routine.

1. Set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier to get some time to yourself.  You could use this time to run a load of laundry, exercise or, my favourite, sit quietly with a cup of coffee.

2. Get ready first so that you'll be better able to handle whatever else comes up.

3. Write down a morning routine for each family member.  Use pictures for children that are too young to read.  It will save on nagging because the kids will know exactly what they should do.

4. Don't fight with your kids' personalities.  If it takes 30 minutes to get your teenager out of bed, then start rousing him 30 minutes earlier.  If your 12 year old daughter needs to change her outfit just before leaving each morning, then announce that you will be leaving 15 minutes earlier each morning (make up some believable excuse).  When she runs and changes you will still be on time.

5. Consider fast foods for breakfast.  Not fast food, as in the golden arches, but things like smoothies, fruit and a muffin, cereal and milk.

6. Give yourself a treat.   There's no point in doing all of this preparation if you don't use the extra time in the morning for a little snuggle time or perhaps you could even go so far as a family breakfast all together at the table just like in A Christmas Story.  If you can manage that, you are my hero!

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