Last week the kids were off from school for spring break, and then yesterday was Easter.
We had a great “staycation” full of mini adventures.
The first five days of break we went geocaching, visited The Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market, went to a local creamery for ice cream, went to the beach, and went to the Bronx Zoo.
By the time Thursday rolled around, we were ready for a few days of chilling at home.
But even the “chilling” days were busy. There was the beginning of baseball season and soccer season for Number 3, 6, and 7. And then, of course there was Easter, so we had eggs to dye and grandparents to visit.
Every year we go to my parents’ house for Easter. They live near the beach, and it was really warm here in CT, so we contemplated going to the beach yesterday afternoon after the Easter egg hunt at Grammy and Papa’s.
But I hadn’t really thought things through. We hadn’t gotten anything ready for school yet. If we went to the beach, we wouldn’t end up getting home until dinner time, the kids would be totally shot, they were already filthy and all needed baths or showers, Number 3 wanted me to cut his hair and I still hadn’t done that, and I wasn’t even sure of the laundry situation.
So rather than going to the beach, we came home around 4:30.
And we did the following things that enabled us to have the smoothest Monday morning we’ve ever had. I even had time to French braid all the girls’ hair this morning and I have never been able to do that before.
So what can you do to make your mornings run smoothly?
1) Keep Sunday afternoons as free as possible.
I know how hard this can be, especially if you have kids in sports. But reserving the second half of Sunday for getting all your ducks in a row makes a huge difference. It’s so easy to forget this. It’s so easy to jam Sundays full of stuff. But it’s supposed to be a day of rest!
Don’t arrange play dates, don’t agree to do things that aren’t necessary, and don’t make any plans! Having a relaxed Sunday allows affords you the opportunity to set up your entire week (or at least some parts of it).
2) Pick out outfits the night before.
We actually pick out all of our clothes for the week on Sunday. Usually. On the weekends that we don’t, our mornings are much more of a shit show. I try really hard to do this one no matter what (which is why I needed to skip the beach and make sure I had clean laundry at home yesterday).
I know sometimes you may pick out five outfits (or even one outfit) and then by the time Thursday rolls around, your kids have changed their minds regarding what they want to wear. To reduce the chances of that happening, let your kids pick out their outfits. That way you reduce the likelihood that they’ll have outfit meltdown. If they are comfortable and happy with what they are wearing, then they are less likely to freak out about what they are wearing. Who cares if it doesn’t totally match?
Knowing this is done on a Sunday is such a help to how smoothly our mornings run. If we can’t do the whole week on Sunday, I do my best to get outfits picked out (down to the socks and shoes) the night before.
3) Go grocery shopping on Friday.
I used to always do my grocery shopping on the weekends. But I hate using weekend time to go to the store! Plus I do a lot of shopping at Costco and that place sucks on the weekend.
So now I try as much as possible to shop on Friday so I have food and snacks for the weekend and for at least Monday. Then I go again on Monday or Tuesday when the kids are in school.
Not doing a big shop on the weekend frees up time for me to help the kids get set up for a more smoothly running week.
4) Pack lunches the night before.
There aren’t many things I hate more than the morning lunch-packing freak out. I haaaaate it.
So I take care of that the night before. If I’m really organized, I make sandwiches and freeze them so they can just be pulled out of the freezer and put right into lunch boxes.
And then I do the next thing.
5) Teach your kids to help out with all this stuff.
Our kids pack their own lunches. This is probably the biggest sanity saver I have ever employed. Like anyone doing any job, there is training involved with this. You can’t just throw them into the fire.
The younger kids still need help and guidance with what to pack, but I have found (like with picking out the clothing) that when the kids are given the opportunity to decide what they will eat for lunch, they actually eat it! And no, they don’t just pack their lunchboxes full of junk. That’s where the guidance comes in. Plus I don’t have all that much junk for them to choose from.
6) Wake up at least a half hour earlier than your kids.
I know. Some of you may not like this one.
But it is very difficult to be calm and stress-free when you have no time to yourself before the kids are all up and in your face. Because they will be all up in your face. That’s just how they operate.
I know I am always super cranky when I don’t give myself time in the morning to drink some coffee and have at least a few minutes to myself.
7) Don’t let your kids sleep too late.
I know you might want them to get as much rest as possible. I know sometimes I just want five (or thirty) more minutes before the kids are up. But I also know how annoying it is to wake up and feel stressed and rushed. You end up feeling that way all day.
That’s no way to start the day for anyone!
If you are worried about the lost ten or twenty or thirty minutes of sleep, then put your kids to bed earlier!
The stars aren’t always in alignment for all these things to happen. Some days are crazy. Sometimes you have baseball games and swim meets and whatever else and life happens.
But I know for me, most of the times I don’t do these seven things it’s just because I’m seriously lacking in discipline.
Tonight, when you are tired and you want to say, I’ll just do it in the morning, don’t.
Get it out of the way! Then not only are you more prepared in the morning, but you sleep better because you aren’t thinking about it while you lie awake in bed at night!
Even if you can’t do all of these things, if you at least do one or two of them, you will be setting yourself and your family up for smoother weekday mornings.
And isn’t that what we all want?