This post is sponsored by Quaker Oats, but all opinions are my own.
So much about getting organized in life is about timing. Because no one can predict what interruptions or spontaneous events pop up, it’s always best to prep for as much of your life in advance as you can. That goes for meals, packing for a trip, making lunches, and work tasks (like putting together a presentation). In college, I once read an entire textbook over the summer so I could be uber prepared for a busy senior-year semester. #nerdalert !
I absolutely hate feeling rushed and consider myself one of the biggest anti-procrastinators out there. Anything that I can do in advance, I will. To get ahead, you must work doubly hard once to create the time to get ahead, but once you do, you’ll be doing the same amount of work just on a different schedule.
When Mazen started school three years ago, I learned what works best for us is to do the most important tasks first and the most fun ones last. So, we always got dressed and “out the door” ready before breakfast so that we could enjoy breakfast ’til the last minute. After re-ordering our routine, mornings went much smoother.
There are still a handful of tasks I do every night so that I can wake up with a clean slate each morning. I never like to come downstairs at 7:00 a.m. to find last night’s dishes or clutter strewn about. Here is my nightly checklist of tasks I do each evening so that my mornings are as peaceful as possible.
1. Pack lunch
If I am really on top of my game, I pack Mazen’s lunch as soon as he gets home from school. While he’s having his after-school snack, I empty his backpack and re-pack it for the morning. I also clean out his lunchbox and prep lunch for the next day. On busier days this happens in the evening, but I never wait until the morning to pack lunch!
2. Make coffee
This task falls mostly on Thomas’s list because he’s the coffee guy, but we both check to make sure the coffee pot is prepped and programmed to brew first thing in the morning.
3. Prep (or make) breakfast
When Mazen started school, I had to shift my breakfasts from extravagant to efficient. (The usual displays of oatmeal, French toast, and pancakes became more efficient meals, like overnight oats, smoothies, power toast, or quick eggs.) We do still make pancakes and hot oatmeal from scratch on weekdays if we wake up on the early side, but not every day because most of the time we are on the clock to get out of the door!
Overnight oats are the ultimate busy-morning breakfast, and the new Quaker Overnight Oats make it even easier because the dry mixing is already done for you! Just add the milk of your choice to the line and cold-steep overnight in the fridge. I even have Thomas hooked on these! Check out my first post about them for all the details.
4. Clean kitchen (and put dishes away)
I never go to bed with dishes in the sink, unless a pan absolutely needs to soak. This is a hard rule! Sometimes I will leave a tea mug in the sink, but nothing from dinner or anything that is ant-attracting dirty. I also wipe down the counters and vacuum if the floor is particularly crummy.
5. Tidy the living room (and chop pillows)
Once the kitchen is closed, I tidy up the living room, straighten pillows, and put away anything that is left out (usually a stray water bottle, pair of shoes, or tea mug). Pillows get a nice chop so they look perky for morning time!
6. Put out clothes
Before relaxing for the night, I usually check on sleeping Mazen, give him a kiss, and put out his outfit for the next day. (He has a nightlight in his room, so it’s easy to see what I’m doing.) If I am going to the gym for an early morning class, I set out my gym clothes as well so they are easy to find and put on in my 5:30 a.m. stupor.
7. Me time (relax with tea)
If I’m efficient, the above takes me 30 minutes or so and I can spend an hour watching TV, talking to T, or doing another evening activity (like folding laundry while watching TV!) I usually have a cup of tea too.
8. Read in bed (and count sleep backwards)
Depending on what time I have to get up the next morning, I count back 8 hours and get in bed. I try to read on my Kindle for 10-15 minutes (and longer if I’ve skipped TV earlier) but most nights I crash in 5 minutes or less! 🙂
Cheers to a happy morning!
Thanks to Quaker Oats for sponsoring this post and making overnight oats even easier!