Its no surprise that the best way to get things done in the morning is to wake up before the kids. You have the house all to yourself and it never ceases to amaze how much you can achieve without kids underfoot. Its peaceful and quiet and you have unfettered time to get everything done. You can pack lunches, empty the dishwasher and enjoy a hot cup of tea, without the constant cries of ‘mum this’ and ‘mum that’. Its the calm before the storm.
It all sounds great in theory, but the reality is I love my sleep too much. And the price I pay for those extra precious minutes in bed is that I head straight into a morning tornado of kids and chaos.
Along with writing, running a small business and doing a fair bit of volunteer work for our local football club, I also work part time outside of home. With four kids my mornings are already manic and that’s before adding a commute to my morning routine…
I have learnt a few tricks (shortcuts?) along the way that help save time so I can steal a bit more sleep in the morning and still get everyone out the door and where they need to be on time.
How to save time in the morning
A good start to the day starts the night before
When it comes to getting out of the house on time, preparation is key. Every task is a challenge and becomes chaotic when you’re in a rush, so try and do as much as you can the night before to avoid last minute panic. Some of the things I do to save time include:
- Setting the dishwasher
- Tidying the busy parts of your home
- Making sure clean uniforms are ready for the kids
- Checking our planner to so I know if its library / news / excursion / random mufti day the following day to avoid a mad scramble in the morning
- Packing the majority of lunch boxes and school bags leaving only sandwiches, fresh and fruit still to pack in the morning.
Set your standards low
For me to feel in control, I need to have all the beds made, the dishwasher emptied and the kitchen cleared before I leave the house. That’s my bare minimum. Once these three things are done I am good to go. A quick vacuum around the breakfast area is a bonus. Its just enough to make sure I come home to a less chaotic scene in the afternoon, without stressing me out too much in the morning.
Put everything on the whiteboard
I list everything we do on a magnetic whiteboard that lives on the fridge. Having a weekly planner helps you keep on top of all the comings and goings. I fill in school, sport and social activities so nothing takes me by surprise. With four kids it’s all too easy to forget a play-date here and a bake-a-cake day there. I find that keeping a planner helps keep my mind straight and means I see everything coming.
Let the kids fend for themselves
This is a great piece of advice: “Don’t do for your children what they are capable of doing for themselves”. It’s so true because not only does it keep them busy (less time for fighting!) it also builds independence. It can be all too easy to fall in the trap of doing things for the kids that they are we know they are capable of doing themselves because it seems like a quicker way to get things done. However as you have more kids you realise this is really a false economy – if you have to pack four school bags each day and make all the beds it is not actually going to be quicker at all. You can also allocate age-appropriate chores, like emptying the dishwasher and, putting plates in the sink to feeding pets.
Don’t let lunch boxes break you
I usually make sandwiches to last the entire week on a Sunday and then take them out of the freezer ‘fresh’ each morning. I pre-pack most of the snacks the night before and only leave the chopping up of fresh fruit for the morning.
Run it like clockwork
I have worked out what needs to be done by when and do my best to stick to the schedule: lunch boxes done and bags packed by 7:30am; breakfast finished by 7:45am; myself to start getting ready by 8am; out the door by 8:20am. By keeping one eye on the time I know if we are running late and need to speed things up as it is happens.
TV is your friend
Yes, I let my kids watch TV in the morning, something my mother never let me do as a kid… There is a bit of mum-guilt over TV time but it does keep the kids out of my hair. I used to let the kids watch TV first thing in the morning to give me some peace, but now I don’t let them turn it on until they’re dressed and their bags are packed. It’s a good motivator. I also turn it off 5 minutes before its shoes on time so its not a battle to get them all out of the door.
Don’t forget about yourself!
One of my biggest time-savers is to plan what I am going to wear the night before. I pick my outfit before I go to bed. Otherwise I can waste too much precious time in the morning lamenting the fact that I don’t have anything to wear… I also do my best to resist the temptation of checking social media until I am on the train on my way to work. Because if you really want to know the number one way to save time in the morning, its to put your phone down. Now!
How do you manage to save time in the morning?