By Sue McMillin and Jennyce Garber
“Find peace in the morning rush, and you will have a good day.” Mike Dolan
One thing I often hear from working moms is that they would love a strategy to deal with the morning routine – the proverbial “Up and At ‘em” ordeal that they deal with each and every day.
According to recent Pew Research, 61% of mothers now work outside the home. Of these, 86% say they feel “stressed most of the time.” And 40% say they “always feel rushed.”
Since the morning routine can be a very stressful time for most women, especially those going to the workplace, here are some ideas on how to make the mornings go more smoothly.
I recently conducted a survey of several working moms: A bus driver mom of four; a schoolteacher mom of one infant; a financial administrator for a leading global security company and a mom of one infant; an occupational therapist mom of four; a church administrator mom of one.
I asked them to identify their top obstacles to getting out the door in the mornings. I also asked them to list the top strategies that they utilize to overcome these obstacles. Let’s deal now with each of the problems that most working moms encounter in the first hour-and-a-half of their days.
1. Getting up: If it is hard to get up and you find it easy to go back to bed for another fifteen minute’s snooze, put the alarm on the other side of the room. That will help you get up and stay up. Also, try putting it in the bathroom. A consistent bedtime will train your body as to the times for resting or rising. Go directly from bed to shower. Showering at night can buy you more time the next morning.
2. Getting kids dressed and ready: Decide the night before what the kids are going to wear and help them lay their clothes out. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time for all the necessities: tying Susie’s shoes, breaking up an argument between Johnnie and Amanda, and so forth. Dealing gently and adequately with each offspring can calm their nerves in the mornings. Wouldn’t thirty minutes less sleep and gentle memorable mornings be worth the change?
3. Preparing breakfast: Again, make breakfast as simple as possible. If you can afford it, use paper bowls and napkins. Train your children to clean up and serve themselves breakfast. Buy a milk dispenser that pours milk from the refrigerator if your children are too young to handle the carton of milk. Set out the fixings for breakfast and program and fill the coffeemaker the night before. One of our moms makes nutritious smoothies for breakfast, complete with protein powder, and serves them in travel mugs. She has learned that breakfast-on-the-go can be nourishing and quick. For one of the surveyed moms, pet care is a big part of the morning. She has learned to structure her time to include this important chore.
4. Clean up and fix lunches: Train your children to clean up breakfast and fix their own lunches or part of their lunches. Or you could prepare lunches the night before. You could also budget money for a school lunch at the cafeteria if packing a lunch is not an option. One of our moms makes enough for supper at night to have leftovers the next day for lunch. As she is cleaning up dinner she simply packs the leftovers in lunch bags for the next day.
5. Mom dressed: Getting yourself dressed should be a snap! If your closet is in shambles, refer to the chapter on clothes closets in Sue’s book titled Organized-How to Create a Happier Home, Family and Life. Decide what you are going to wear the night before and lay those clothes out. Make sure your make-up, brushes, and accessories are handy in one-movement motions. Consolidate trips from room to room.
6. Kids off to school: Have at your fingertips a list of all necessary items that each child needs to take to school. This keeps you from having to make a trip to school to deliver a forgotten assignment. Have backpacks packed and ready the night before so that with one swift motion your kids can pick them up and head to the bus.
7. Mom out the door to work: Many of the moms we surveyed said that one of their biggest obstacles of getting out in the morning was getting distracted by social media, email, or household chores screaming to be done. It takes a lot of discipline to say “no” to these common distractions. If you can exercise restraint in this area, then you will experience a more relaxed transition into your workday. You can go out to meet the day ready, calm, beautiful, cool and relaxed.
With these few simple time-saving steps, your morning routine will become a piece of cake. Co-workers and peers will now see a warm, prepared woman instead of that tired, irritated haggled person that used to walk through the door.
What a happy change!