Monday, September 19, 2011

Manageable Mornings

Occasionally readers will email blog topics they think I should write about. I appreciate feedback and suggestions so very much, and I keep a running list of requests/ideas.

For the last few weeks a friend who will remain nameless (Bridget aka Anxiety Gal) has been harassing me to write a series about how I run and structure my days. And when I say harass... I mean harass. I think she has brought it up everyday.

She suggested I call it, “Setting Yourself Up For Success”. I love this title because it accurately describes why I do some of the occasionally militant things I do during the in and day out. And it sounds so much better than a series entitled, “How Anal-Retentiveness Can Work For You!”

For the purposes of tagging the series, look for “Winning” under content. Again, it sounds better than “Tiger Blood”. Thank you, Charlie Sheen!

So without further ado (no I have not been drinking this morning), I give you the first installment in the “Setting Yourself Up For Success” series... insert mental drum-roll...Manageable Mornings!

I firmly believe that the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. This may be scary to you, especially if you are not a morning person. Believe me, I am NOT a morning person either.

When you are frazzled, rushed, disorganized and just generally grumpy in the morning it seeps into the rest of your day. Your afternoons are spent trying to catch up or are written off all together. By the time bedtime rolls around you may look around your home (and family) and think, “what did I accomplish today?” And, “why am I in such a crappy mood?”

A big trick to successful mornings is getting things done the night before. Here is what it looks like in our house- maybe you do some of the same things.

Pick out your clothes the night before and make sure they are ready. For school mornings this means making sure the kids’ uniforms are hanging on the door the night before. On swim lesson mornings I put their trunks and swim suit next to their beds. Church outfits are picked out Saturday night. This applies to me as well. If I am going to the gym after preschool drop off, I make sure my clothes are laundered and ready to go in the morning. Mornings are not for choosing what to wear, looking for clean underwear, or locating an errant shoe. Ironing does not happen in the morning...but that never happens in this home. The weather is no excuse- check the weather channel for updates the night before. You get the picture.

Have a dumping spot...and use it. I have a spot by the front door that I dump every thing I need to take with me in the morning. Things you would find here (depending on the day of the week) would include forms that need to go to school, towels for swim lessons, packages for UPS drop off, my gym bag, bank deposits, dry cleaning etc. I hate forgetting things and even more than forgetting things I hate rushing around before dashing out of the house trying to locate everything I need. If you have a lot of stuff you could keep a basket by the door and take the basket to the car with you. The key is that this spot is not for clutter to collect, it is for things you need to take to the car for the morning.

What’s for breakfast? Figure it out the night before and get it prepped. I set the table with what ever we need- bowls and spoons for cereal, cups for milk, etc. Slice the melon. Make the OJ. Lay out the vitamins... or vodka...or Xanax- whatever it takes.

Prepare lunches the night before so they just have to be packed in the morning. Once they are packed in the morning, put them in the dumping spot so they are not forgotten at home.

Get up before the rest of the family. Have a cup of coffee, shower, get dressed, check your email. Whatever you need to do to be ready for the day, do it before the kids wake up. Tend to your personal needs. Start the day happy. There is plenty of time later for it to go south!

Plan to leave early and be on time. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved my behind. When you calculate how long it is going to take you to get somewhere, add 15 minutes. Mornings are crazy, and even with preplanning there is going to be a hiccup here and there- a child has a hard time waking up, someone doesn’t want their hair combed, the dog won’t go to the yard...traffic! If you plan for these unexpected things in advance, they won’t be such a big deal if they happen. You won’t be screaming like a banshee because you are feeling stressed and rushed. Most importantly, you won’t be late.

My remedial algebra teacher in high school (yes, I said remedial...I’m not a math gal) would say, “Be on time when time matters and time always matters,” or something to that effect. This is so important, especially to teach our children. Being late causes needless anxiety and makes you look like you don’t care. When kids are late to events they miss out on stuff. Don’t do that to your kids!

So this is how I make my mornings manageable, and start the day off on the right foot. Some people like to make their beds first thing in the morning. This is not top on my priority list, but if it works for you, go for it!

The boys had their first day of school last week. We were on time. We didn’t forget anything. I didn’t raise my voice. These photos pretty much sum them up. I hope Franklin never looses his zest for life, and I hope Vincent learns that he doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing.

My algebra teacher also said, “Life is like a burrito- don’t get all wrapped up in it,” or something like that. I love a good breakfast burrito!



  1. LOVE the tips!
    I am working on getting up and ready before my boy. Here is the problem: when I get up early, I am tired in the afternoon so I take a nap...when I take a nap, I can't sleep well at night...when I don't sleep well at night, I am tired and don't want to get up early. HA! I am still working on it though...and found that a short 20 minute nap gives me some energy but doesn't mess me up at night!
    Oh and I always try to be on really eerks me when people are late, especially if they are constantly late. I would much rather be early and find a way to kill time....

    ps. James is LOVING preschool...and I am trying to be productive while he is there! :)
    Hope the fall is starting out nicely for you and your family!

  2. These are great tips. I have to have everything done the night before or I'm a crazy woman the next morning. A good night sleep is a must for me too :).

    Little Wonders' Days