I think every mom will attest to the fact:
Once you have kids, getting things done is hard.
Any magic secret?
Well, according to mom blogger, Crystal Paine, there is one and it lies in your morning routine. If there is one time during the day that you can really overhaul to change how your day goes, it’s your mornings. You can extend this one step further and transform your evening routine, setting yourself up for a fantastic next day.
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What happened when I changed my routine
Intrigued by the idea that I could truly transform how my day went by such a simple idea as changing my morning routine. I set off to improve it. My biggest findings were:
- I realized I wasted a lot of time in the morning.
- If I was more purposeful about my mornings my day went better.
- I found that having some “me” time was essential for both my well-being and my ability to be a good mom.
- Pre-planning my mornings allowed me to accomplish so much more.
How do you improve your routines?
Great question. The type of improvement needed is different for every person but to improve, the starting point is the same. To truly find out how you can improve your morning and evening routines, you need to know what they currently are. Even if you don’t have a “routine”, you have a natural flow to your morning and evenings.
To begin, simply write down your morning and evening routines along with tracking time. The time aspect is important as it allows you to see where you time is being spent. I have provided a free template to do so.
What are your morning routine goals?
Now, before you start trying to change anything. Take a step back and decide what you want out of your morning. This will be different for everyone. Here are some ideas to get your wheels rolling:
1. Creating some essential me time
As a mom, you probably get very little time to yourself. It is helpful to set aside time for this because of the unpredictability that goes along with every day. Your best bet here if you plan on prioritizing me time is to wake up before your kids. I know, it doesn’t sound fun but once you start you won’t quit.
Plan to use your me time to accomplish what helps you most. For some it’s a quiet morning with coffee and a book. Others, it’s a quick workout. Maybe you just want to wake up slowly, browse your phone and then get out of bed.
2. Starting my day out less hectic
Mornings can be hectic. Everyone needs to get ready, be fed and get out the door. Planning in some time to ensure this goes more smoothly is key if your mornings are stressful. Maybe before kids are up, you can have everything ready to go. If you don’t want to be up super early before your kids, consider moving some of the tasks to an evening routine, which I discuss below.
3. Building in time for chores so they aren’t overwhelming
I hate leaving the house a mess in the morning. It just instantly causes me stress and changes my whole day. When looking at your routine, are there certain chores that you want to accomplish every morning? See where they might best fit in.
4. Minimize wasting time
Once you have written down your morning routine, you will see where most of your morning time is going. The key is ensuring that you are not wasting time but spending it wisely. Identifying where you could better utilize time will allow you to accomplish more each morning.
5. Make Some Extra Money
This may not be something you instantly think of when you consider overhauling your morning routine because it can be tricky to find real ways to do this. But it’s possible! Alli makes an extra $1200 per month by teaching online in the mornings before N wakes. This opportunity, or finding another flexible work-from-home opportunity (such as blogging!), could be your ticket to reduced financial stress, and a sense of fulfillment before your household even typically wakes.
Key considerations to a morning routine
After you have set some goals on what you want to get out of your morning routine, remember to consider:
- What time everyone wakes?
- When everyone needs to be out of the door?
- What does each person need to get out the door such as lunches?
- How well are you utilizing waiting time?
- Ex: while brewing coffee, unstack the dishwasher every morning
- Ex: While your kids brush their teeth, tidy the bathroom and then do a quick counter wipe down after they are done.
- Can you add chores to your routine?
- After getting ready in the morning, wipe down master bathroom sink and counters?
- Is there a spot in the routine to start or complete a chore that happens on a weekly basis?
- Do you need more than one morning routine for different types of days in your schedule? You could make one for Mon/Wed/Fri and Tues/Thurs because you only work MWF. Another idea is making a weekend morning routine.
How do you make a new morning routine?
Using your old routine that you wrote out, your goals and the key considerations that fit you, grab a new sheet of paper or use the template I provide (which you can access by subscribing below) and start from the top. Start with the time you want to wake in order to accomplish what you want.
From there, on every item in your old routine, ask yourself if you want to keep it and how can you improve it? Make sure to also incorporate your new goals or tasks that you also want to accomplish.
Is your new routine not working?
After you make changes, you want to make sure you give that routine a few days, especially if you are now waking up at an earlier time. If it isn’t going well, highlight in your routine what isn’t working, and change what’s not working.
If you think you are trying to accomplish too much in the morning, remember to prioritize what helps you start your day off right and then the absolute necessities. Also, you be sure to utilize the fact you have both morning and evening routine and shift items around.
Now, for the evening routine
While an evening routine might not start your day off right. It can start your sleep off right, which can be almost as important. It is also the only other time when your kids are asleep, which means it’s important to utilize it wisely.
How to start?
The same way as you did with your morning routine, which is to write down your normal routine with time.
What are your evening routine goals?
Here, some of your goals might be the same or different. One I prioritize is having everything in order, so I go to sleep stress free. Others might include:
1. Spending quality time with my husband or partner
After a busy day, I really enjoy always putting aside some time to spend with my spouse. With kids, there is almost no time in the day where we can even finish a sentence without being interrupted. Communication is key in a marriage and with kids that can be tricky.
On that note, it might also be useful to use this time once a week to talk about the upcoming week, schedules, commitments and coordinating it all.
2. Having time to prepare for the next day
If I am thinking of all that needs to be done the next day, I have a hard time turning off my brain. An excellent way to remove that constant mental list is to write it down. I have been able to make to-do lists effortless by developing my home binder, which you can read about here.
3. Creating a bedtime routine and setting a bedtime
If you are a mom, I don’t have to preach to you how wonderful, precious and extremely important sleep is. Interestingly, the advice you read about getting your kids to sleep better applies to you too. Having a bedtime routine and going to bed at the same time every night dramatically improves your ability to fall asleep and sleep well.
4. Leaving a placeholder to finish odds and ends around the house
After the end of every day, there is always one or two items that need my attention. If I have time built in to tend to these, I don’t feel like I am wasting my evening or feel like I am always behind.
Creating this habit in my routine also just helps me do it instead of procrastinating until bedtime.
5. Allocating a set time to do some daily chores
Similar to the last point but this is for a specific chore or set of chores. You might want to do this if you find you can’t accomplish all of your daily tasks during your morning routine or you would rather get your chores done at night. The chore might also make more sense for you to do at night such as packing lunches.
Key considerations to an evening routine
Again, just some more ideas to consider when looking at your current routine and how you might want to adjust it.
- When is dinner?
- Do you have energy at night and do you like to accomplish things at night instead of in the morning?
- Building more than one-night routine depending on your household work and school schedules.
- Do you want to build in an at-home date night?
- Would building in a once a week update meetings with your partner help?
- What time do you usually go to sleep? Does that need to change?
- Do you want to add a no screens after a certain time rule to make it easier to fall asleep?
- Are there chores that make sense to do in the evening?
- What time everyone goes to sleep?
How do you make a new evening routine?
Start by taking your old routine and see where in the routine you want to change it. Keeping your goals in mind, start trying to change or add in new options. After that try it out for a few nights and then change sections that aren’t working until it works for you.
Should you prioritize your morning or evening routine?
You can take two approaches here.
One: If you are a night person, it might be best to focus on that routine because it will be easier to change or vice versa.
Two: If you are a night person, it probably means that you have the most to gain from changing your morning routine.
In the end, I recommend improving both your morning and evening routines. Some things are better to prioritize during the morning and some during the evening. By tackling both eventually, you will benefit the greatest. So pick one and start. I promise you have nothing to lose!
Morning Routine Course
If you want a very in-depth and popular resource on making the most out of your mornings, you will find no better resource than Crystal Paine’s Morning Routine course. It costs $17 and includes countless tips to optimize your morning so you can be the best you possible.
An Instant Fix
One great rule of thumb I learned after reading, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, is the one-minute rule. In short, if the task takes one minute or less, do it right then. Most tasks take 15 seconds or less if you think about. Refold that crumpled blanket, straighten the couch cushions, hang your coat up, put your shoes in the closet. You get the idea 😊
Apply this to your mornings and evenings and you will see such a difference in daily clutter and tasks. Your mind will be at ease at the sight of less visual clutter.
I do an extended version of this in the evenings with the 10 minute clean-up. By re-setting and decluttering my home before going up to bed, I’m able to come downstairs in the morning to a house that is ready to-go for completely morning tasks.
Don’t stop at routines
Restructuring your routines can save you time, reduce your stress and allow you to accomplish more. Start with writing down your current routines, prioritize what you want from these routines and then try it out. If it isn’t working, adjust until it fits you and your needs.
In addition to these routines, I have written about easy ways to organize your life. These posts include tips to reduce wasted time with chores and ways to cut costs like a boss by meal prepping. All have free printables to go along with the posts that you get when you subscribe.
I wish you all happy mornings and relaxing nights!
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Dr. Trina Fitzpatrick is a wife, mom, blogger, and a breastfeeding advocate. She is the co-author of the Week-by-Week Bump Smart Course, the Nesting Planner and the Breastfeeding Handbook. She attributes her success at breastfeeding her own children into toddlerhood with working with lactation consultants in the hospital in the early stages and on a weekly basis afterwards. By writing at MomSmartNotHard, she educates mamas-to-be on all things pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. Read more about Trina.