The following is by editor Kara Fleck and originally appeared in March of 2011.
Imentioned a short while ago that one of the ways I help to make life a little easier on myself and our mornings flow smoother is by preparing for them the night before.
I have found that a morning routine helps to set the tone for the rest of the day. You can read more about my morning routine here, but today I want to talk specifically about taking some time the evening before to set the stage for the next morning.
Prepping for the Next Morning
One of the questions I asked myself as I was developing our current morning routine was what can I do the night before to give myself a jump start for the next day?
After some brainstorming and making a few changes, I was able to come up with a list of tasks that can be done the night before – thus, giving myself a head-start on the next morning.
Here are the things I do in the evenings to prepare for the next day:
* This past year I’ve been making a real effort to get my family to drink more water. To encourage this, I fill up water bottles so that they are in the fridge waiting for us to grab and go. (2012 Note: this task has become one of my ten year old’s evening chores now.)
* As we are clearing the dinner table, we set the table for breakfast. If you do nothing else, I would encourage you to try this.
* While I’m in the kitchen, I prepare snacks and pack lunches. We homeschool, so most of our lunches are at home, but I pack up dinner leftovers for my husband (who brings his lunch to work) and sometimes we pack a lunch if we’re having a field trip day, too. Not all food can be prepared the night before, but many things can. Even setting out the lunch boxes and food containers on the counter gives me a head start on packing the next morning.
* I make sure homeschool lessons are ready to go and any supplies for art/craft projects that we are going to do are ready, too. My goal is make sure that no one has to wait on me while I find a sharpened pencil or the watercolor paper.
* I also take a quick glance at the calendar to remind myself what is on the agenda for the next day.
* As we’re getting ready for bed and the kids are going through their bedtime routine, I set out clothes for the next day.
* After the kids are in bed, I do a quick tidy of the main living areas and pick up any toys that didn’t get scooped up during one of our 5 minute pick up sessions during the day.
* Before I go to sleep, I set my alarm clock. At first, my goal was to get up fifteen minutes before the rest of my family. Little by little I worked my way up to about an hour and a half by myself in the morning. Now, I know that getting up at 5am wouldn’t make for an easier morning for everybody, but it helps me to avoid that “shot out of a canon” feeling in the morning and allows me to have a daily quiet time, too.
2012 Note: we’re in a “new baby” season of life, so I’m not currently setting my alarm clock and I’m not getting up at 5am (at least not by my choice, some days Mia has other plans) and I don’t get very much time alone in the mornings. However, even fifteen minutes cuddling a six month old and spending some time in quiet thought while I rock and nurse her is infinitely better than starting the day in a race. Baby time is sacred time, too.
Photo by Shutterstock
A Head Start
It doesn’t take very long for me to do these things at the end of the day but, it really helps me to feel like I’m starting the day well to have these tasks already finished and waiting.
Plus, I like having this quiet time at the end of the day to get things settled and the house set to rights again before I head off to bed myself. (Are you noticing a theme here? I like to begin and end my days with some quiet. It helps to balance out the joyful noise of the days.)
And, in the event we do have a morning that starts late or begins a little rocky, I’m still in fairly good shape because I have attended to these tasks ahead of time.
Remember, these tasks are specific to my family and may, or may not, be relevant for your family.
I encourage you to take a look at this list and then start thinking about some tasks that you can do in the evenings to give yourself a head start on the next day, too.
What can you do to prepare tonight to make tomorrow easier for yourself?