As summer comes to an end (NO!!!), now is the time to start planning and organizing your back to school routine. The excitement of a new school year can quickly turn into busy nights, early mornings and a daily scramble to get out the door. These are not hard tasks and do not require a lot of your time. I promise the thirty minutes it takes at night to prep is well worth the calm and organized mornings. Here are seven, easy things to do each night before bed to make the morning more bearable and keep you on schedule.
1. Prepare the Coffee Pot.
This is a big one for me. If I can only do one thing the night before, I get the coffee pot ready. I love coffee. Live and breathe coffee. I have multiple t-shirts with coffee quotes. Coffee is a nonnegotiable in the morning and the thought of prepping my coffee pot in the morning makes me want to cry. We used to have a Keurig which solved all of my coffee prepping anxiety because hello k-cups?! Then it died and thanks to Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, the hubby and I decided to be responsible grown ups and purchased a coffee maker with a filter that required coffee grounds. We went with the Ninja Coffee Bar Coffee Maker. (affiliate) If we had to buy a grown up coffee maker, we were going to get one that had some fun features! For those of you that are not married to coffee, the concept stands for tea, shakes, smoothies, etc. in the morning. The more you can prep the night before the smoother morning goes! Always.
2. Pack Lunches.
Full disclosure, I am not a fan of meal prep Sundays. One of my best friends lives and breathes meal prep Sundays. She rocks it. She has her routine, her lists and she preps meals like a champ. I attempted a meal prep Sunday and by the end of the week, the food was bad and if I had to eat another meal of the same thing, I was going to punch something or someone. If you are a meal prepper on Sundays; I applaud you! You are well on your way to being ready to tackle the mornings. If you are like me, and need some semblance of organization, night prep always works. Now, I do grocery shop for the week on Sundays. And, by grocery shop, I mean online shopping at Kroger. Read all about my love for Kroger Clicklist and why it is life changing here.
So, meal prep. I try very hard to have an entrée, a fruit or veggie and a small snack item in each lunch for Nugget. She is a great eater and usually gets leftovers, a fruit and a vegetable. Her “snack” item is usually cottage cheese or cheerios. Girl can eat some cheese. My lunch is either leftovers or a sandwich. I am usually eating on the run, so I need something that I can grab and go. My husband on the other hand, despises left overs. He would rather not eat lunch than have leftovers. He also hates sandwiches. Well, damn. So we had to get creative. He will take soup, pre-made salads, sorry Dave, I am paying for those pre made salads, and an occasional sandwich. We are not gourmet at lunches by any means but we try and eat healthy and stay budget friendly by bringing our lunches.
Nugget gets homemade meals M-F and Josh and I probably bring our lunch four out of the five days of the week. At some point in most weeks, the only thing holding your day together is the thought of Chick Fil A for lunch. Am I right?
3. Pack Backpacks and Extracurricular Activities’ Bags.
I am sure you are seeing a theme by now. Anything that can be done the night before, should be done. This includes extracurricular activities too. Even if you are able to come home in between school/work and your night activity, have everything ready to make that short amount of time less frenzied. Nugget has swim once a week and the night before, her swim bag is packed and ready to grab when I get home. Eliminating the mad rush at any time of the day is the goal!
4. Clean up the Clutter.
I hate clutter. Things have a place and they should go back to their place at night. #tellthattomyoneyearold My goal is to put as many things away at night as I can. I do not want to wake up and on my stumble to my morning coffee step on a toy and break something. I don’t have time for that. We keep very large bins in our living room where all the toys that used during the day go back too at night. Eventually, Nugget will be part of this clean up process! Include your kids here. Start teaching them responsibility and cleanliness now! Below are a few different bins that are similar to the ones I use at home. (affiliate)
5. Lay Out Clothes; the Entire Family’s.
Moms, letting your kids help pick out clothes the night before will make your mornings painless! “What does she know, she only has a one year old,” you are asking. Trust me on this. My mom is the smartest woman alive and quickly realized that if she started involving me in the decision the night before, major breakdowns could be avoided. The agreement was that what I picked out the night before was what I was wearing. No if, ands or buts. I got to pick what I wanted, with her approval, and she got a blissful morning. Win-win.
Laying out your kids outfits makes sense and most probably already do this, but do you lay out your outfit? You should. Yes, this seems childish. No, I don’t care. Outfit prep is probably the BEST idea to a smoother morning. No more, “I hate this skirt” or “I am missing a button on this shirt and now I have to change my entire outfit”! Before I started as a nurse manager, (thank the Lord for scrubs all day, everyday) I wore business casual. Every night I would plan out my outfit down to accessories and lay it out in my closet. In the morning, I got up and got dressed. Boom. Bam. I usually had a back up outfit planned because my moods have been known to shift easily in the morning! Another tip for ya. If the outfit I was wearing that day was really amazing, I snapped a picture and kept it in a “outfit folder” on my phone. That way, on nights that I did not feel like being creative and picking out a never before assembled outfit, I had a folder full of ones that worked!
6. Review Your Work Calendar.
My schedule is different everyday and I want to be mentally prepared for what the day might throw at me. I am not a fan of surprises. At all. Don’t throw me a surprise party. I will be mad! So, I look at my calendar and what is scheduled for me. That is it. I don’t start thinking about what to do with those meetings and what I need to accomplish, just a quick peak at the day ahead of me. This took some time. When I started my Nurse Manager position, I would look at my calendar and then be in bed for the next three hours thinking about what I needed to do, what to say at this meeting and how to handle this concern. That made my mornings grumpier. With some conscious thinking, I can now look at the day’s activities, know what my day will look like and be done with it. Stay with it! It will come!
7. Put the Phone Down and Go to Bed!
Finally, put the phone down and go to bed! Quit looking at emails, social media, etc. There is really good research out there that supports putting all electronics down WAY before bed time. The light interrupts your natural rhythms and makes sleep restless. Go to bed. A good night’s sleep makes anything in the morning more manageable! This one is hard for me too. I now have an alarm at night on my phone to signal that it is time to set the phone down and start shutting my brain down for sleep. Sometimes I ignore it, but I am really trying to stick with it and make it part of my nightly routine. I try to read a bit before bed to decompress and slow my mind.
There it is. Seven simple steps. This is not cutting edge stuff. It isn’t meant to be! These are effective ways to manage your morning the night before. The easier the tasks are, the more likely you will stick with them until they become habitual. I would love to hear from you too! What do you guys do at night to prep for the morning?