It’s Monday morning (again). You glance at the kitchen clock and gulp down a cup of coffee while attempting to put on your clothes at the same time and realise that you only have 5 minutes to get your 5 year old dressed and ready for school, not to mention you still need to pack her lunch. Not soon enough do you remember that you were warned the previous Thursday by your easy-going boss (not!) for being late the third day in a row.
Sound all-too familiar? No one said being a working mum would be easy, but here are 5 steps to help you achieve that delicate Monday (or any) morning balance:
1. First and foremost, be prepared.If need be, pack your child’s lunch the night before. Give your child a bath the night before as well. Do your washing and ironing on the weekend so that all clothes are hung and ready to go; prepare at least 5 outfits for each member of the family over the weekend and have your husband and children assist you in the process.
When our children were small every Sunday afternoon we'd put out the school and sports uniforms for the week, complete with underwear, socks and shoes. They each had a five cubby hanging organiser in their wardrobes and their uniforms would go into them, one day per cubby. It took all of five minutes every Sunday afternoon and saved so much time in the mornings. Hannah still uses hers to organise her clothes for the week.
2. Set your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier to allow yourself more time in the morning.If need be, go to bed 30 minutes earlier to make up for the time difference. Wake up before your kids to shower and dress and get your day started peacefully.
Even when we only had one baby I'd get up at 6am to have some quiet time. I'd make a cup of coffee and sit and read for a few minutes before starting my day.
3. Keep breakfast simple and healthy.Set the table before bed, fill the kettle, put out the toaster, take the bread from the freezer to thaw. If you feel that you just don’t have the time for breakfast, try keeping bananas and other easy to eat fruit or hard boiled eggs handy and ready to grab and go.
It takes five minutes before bed to get breakfast organised and saves half an hour in the morning chaos. I put the oats in the saucepan and cover them with water to soak, put out the Weet-bix and bran, add coffee to mugs so that when it's time for breakfast most of the work is done.
4. Set a routine for you and your family and stick with it.Our bodies crave routine and that’s a fact. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Sticking with a schedule will make it easier to effectively manage that morning balancing act.
5. Divide your morning into phases.For example, phase 1: eat breakfast, phase 2: get dressed, etc. Set the phases in 15-30 minute time increments (phasing increments can vary, depending on the overall time you give yourself). Attempting to accomplish everything at once will only lead to chaos and confusion. Help your family stay within the proper phase and ask them to also pitch in and help. Encourage your family to stick to the morning phases to keep things running smoothly.
Even the youngest of toddlers can help to get ready in the mornings.
We had a "no play" rule for first thing. It avoided distractions and really helped keep everyone on task. When the kids were in school we had a 20 - 25 minute drive, depending on traffic, and had to leave on time if they were to be at school before the bell went.
The key to achieving any balance, especially that morning balance, is being prepared. My mother used to say I was always getting ready for tomorrow today and in a way she's right. Doing what I can ahead of time, when I have the time, saves rushing and getting stressed.
Try a more organised approach to your mornings and you will find that they turn out to be a lot smoother and less stressful for everyone