We all want more time, right? The days seem too short for the amount of work we’re trying to accomplish. Mornings are a blur as we frantically scarf down breakfast (if we’re lucky), find the right shoes, and get everyone out the door on time. Books go unread, hobbies go unexplored, and the to-do list grows larger as the busy mornings turn into long days and the long days turn into late nights. Suddenly, it’s bedtime, and the crazy morning looms before us again. Why is life so busy? It has to slow down eventually, right? Is there anything we can do to make this easier?
Life is busy. Everyone knows that. Whether you’re a single, married, married with one kid or ten – it can feel overwhelming at times! I am a working mom of a lively sixteen month old. My mornings are full as I endeavor to get my son to daycare, myself to work, and my husband out the door. As busy as the mornings are, if the mornings go well, it feels like the rest of the day falls into place. If the morning is harried and miserable – well – you know what it feels like on those days! Over the last sixteen months as a working mom, I’ve learned a few tricks that can provide a little breathing room during those overwhelming mornings. So, tomorrow, as we all schlep along together at rapid speed, perhaps the following ideas can offer some relief.
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When I was growing up, my Dad prepared for everything the night before. Everything. His lunch was packed, his backpack by the door, and his running shoes in the hallway. Whenever I would fly back to college in California on one of those early morning flights out of Philly, my Dad was a constant reminder to prepare – to make sure everything was ready to go the night before. Now, as an adult, I finally get it.
My mornings go so much more smoothly when lunches are packed, the smoothies are prepared, and the to-go coffee cups are sitting by the coffee maker. Each night I pick out my workout clothing, my outfit for the day, and my son’s clothing. My school bag is packed and sitting by the front door. My son’s school bag is packed. Whenever possible, I spend part of my weekend meal prepping for the week. Some days I make actual meals that can be frozen and put in the crockpot at a later time. Other times meal prep means washing and chopping veggies. Sometimes, I make a batch of shredded chicken in the Instant Pot. Any little bit of meal prep that can be done ahead of time makes a huge difference in my mornings, and by default, my evenings. Preparation is key! Pack those lunches. Pick out those outfits. Put things in the car ahead of time if possible. It may seem like a lot of extra work at first, but the benefit of an easier morning makes it worthwhile!
This idea may seem counterintuitive because we are all exhausted. We already established that it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day! How could we possibly start the day any earlier? When I say “start earlier,” I don’t mean hours and hours earlier. Try starting your day just ten minutes earlier than you normally do. If you typically rise at 6:00, try setting the alarm for 5:50. As you grow accustomed to starting earlier, you can push the time back again. Obviously, it is important to get the proper sleep (as often as possible) and to take care of our health. Please don’t misunderstand this idea. I have found that rising earlier, especially before my son wakes up, allows me time to start my day stress-free. When I wake up late and rushing or I wake up to my son’s cries, the day starts on an already overwhelming note. When I wake up earlier, I have time to go for a walk or do some type of exercise. Waking up earlier in the morning gives me time to read a few pages of my book, and, for me personally, to read the Bible and spend time in prayer.
I believe that starting our mornings just a little earlier than we normally do can help set us up for successful mornings, days, and evenings. It’s a sacrifice to be sure, but imagine having the time to pause and reflect before the day around us begins. Imagine having time to get some fresh air or to relieve some stress through exercise before the stress even presents itself for the day! By starting earlier, we can claim back a part of the morning for the bettering of ourselves. By doing this, we can persevere through the chaos of school drop-offs and morning commutes with a sense of calm.
I’ve found that saying no to myself and others, when necessary, can go a long way in morning survival. No, I don’t need to scroll social media in the morning. No, I don’t need to watch the news. No, I don’t need to stop for coffee on the way to work – I’ve already prepped my to-go coffee cup and breakfast smoothie! By saying no to things that are of lesser importance, I can say yes to things that matter more to me.
I’ll say no to catching up on some messages I received while sleeping because I prefer to spend a few extra minutes cuddling and reading with my son. I’ll say no to the TV so I can chat with my husband about any last minute changes to the day. I’ll say no to stopping along the way for deliciously overpriced coffee because those extra ten minutes in the drive-through can add some serious time to my commute.
Do you see what I mean? The things that you need to say no to may differ from what I say no to, but the idea remains the same. Boldly guard the time you’ve been given and refuse to give precedence to activities of lesser importance. Your mornings are already full and busy – don’t let them be filled needlessly! Say no to some things so you can say yes to other, better things. Give yourself and those around you the gift of a simpler morning.
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Life is busy. Our mornings are filled and overwhelming. We have so much to do! I hope that these three steps can help to restore your sanity as you navigate through life, one hectic morning at a time. So, take a deep breath as you get ready to embark on another full day. Each new morning is a gift that you will more fully enjoy as you prepare, start earlier, and say no.
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This post was originally written as a guest author post for the “Our Stylish Life” Blog.