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!
Christina @ montessoriishmom.com says
This came at a great time for me! I’m about to go back to work part time after staying home with my little guy for a year and we will need to leave EARLY. I also really hate being rushed, making a checklist is a great idea to make sure nothing gets left for the morning.
I used to be in the MUST clean the kitchen/living room/floors etc. before bed camp … but now I’m more of a “it will get done at some point” camp. I actually find that not having a mental list of “must dos” lets me have a much more restful and relaxing evening. I have found the letting go of the idea that certain things MUST get done before bed is very freeing!
So much YES to this post!! I couldn’t agree more! Preparing the night before helps SO much!
Linda @ the Fitty says
Me too! I honestly cannot shut my brain up otherwise, and I won’t be able to fall asleep.
Carrie this fit chick says
Oh yes! Im a huge list gal. I dont always write them down, but I have my daily routines down in my head, hah
Here’s what my night routine looks like (full time working/single mom):
5:30pm: Home! Son eats snack and starts homework. I cook dinner, empty lunch boxes.
6pm: Eat dinner, help with homework.
6:30pm: My son prepare his lunch box and I do mine. I clean dishes.
7pm: Shower/bath time. Teeth, Pj.
7:30pm: Book in bed with my son, talks a bit, sings, help him sleep.
8pm: Get my gym back ready. Crash in front of the TV.
I really like the idea of being an early riser and getting morning workouts in, but I find I need several hours to unwind at night after all of my evening tasks are done.
I definitely try to do most of my prep the night before but yikes you are organized! That’s awesome!
Recently you’ve had posts that completely align with what I’m going through and boy, is this one of them. (And we’re talking about getting my 40 year old self out the door. Not even a child. Ha!) Thanks for such a timely post. All best wishes to you.
OMG!!! I thought I was the only one who did this!!! Preach girl!!!! Here is my list:
I get home between 6-7pm most nights: as soon as I walk in the door the list starts!
1. Pet/Cuddle my cat. He greets me everytime!
2. Clean the cats litter box.
3. Prep Coffee for next morning.
4. Start Dinner
5. Change clothes/pick up the bf clothes.
6. Clean out the bf lunch box/pack his lunch for tomorrow.
7. Start Humidifer (winter time!)
8. Prep tea to enjoy after dinner.
9. Eat dinner
10. Close down kitchen/put dishes in dishwasher
11. Dessert & Milk & Tea
12. Watch tv/look at phone (usually 8-10pm)
13. Pick Up living room & go to sleep!
Makes EVERYTHING easier the next day!!!! 🙂 I love routine!!!
How do you prevent Mazen from spilling his breakfast on his clothes? My kids always seem to be spilling something!
It happens occasionally but usually not too bad. Worst case we change his short 🙂
Sam @ G & G Nutrition Co. says
I’m jealous that you can fall asleep so quickly! I have to lay there for a while. I recently got a white noise machine and that has helped.
Great post! Now I would love to see your morning checklist…maybe a future post idea?
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says
I was the same – I always made sure to prep my meals the night before. I’ve stopped that now, and I should really do it again. It really helps!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Totally do this too! The older I have gotten, the harder it is to get up in the morning for work (just one more year til retirement!), so I choose my clothes, have breakfast, lunch & snacks ready to throw in my bag in the morning!
Yeah for retirement in a year!!
Ensuring that my coffee is prepped is an absolute MUST for me! I don’t set the timer, but I have the fresh grounds and water in there so as soon as I get up and out of bed, I just hit the “start” button. I’m also big on having my clothes laid out, whether that be for work and/or my before work workout.
Great post! I’m curious – what kind of tea do you drink at night? I mostly a green tea drinker, but I’d be afraid of the caffeine at night!
Sleepytime!! By Celestial Seasonings. It’s my favorite of all time, flavor and nighttime effects (which aren’t really that strong, if at all)
So agree with this. Checklist the night before makes out the door way easier, and I believe for the children as well. I tried the Quarker overnite oats and like. However wish there was another option ( now only one), without nuts…. or banana. I can eat almonds (grew up on a walnut/almond ranch), sadly allergic to walnuts and banana. I do make ( thanks to your blog), my own overnight oats. I travel lots so these are handy. I have had my overnight oats taken away from me at TSA at airport. ( unless frozen – they dislike the plastic filled breakfast I carry). Luv oatmeal!
We have a rice cooker with a timer so hot oatmeal is ready when we wake up. I add most of your fixins and my kids devour it.
Christy Cormons says
HI! Silly question but what vacuum do you have?
We also have a “smaller” house with all wood floors and 1 rug. I don’t even own a vacuum right now because we sweep up after the kids eat (note to self: get a dog!) and the cleaning lady vacuums the sofas & rug every other week. I really think a cordless vacc would be great in between her trips and quick in the kitchen/my hair in the bathroom, etc. and have my eye on some of the Dysons but am curious about what you use for mainly wood floors and some rugs.
I have the Cordless Dyson Animal and COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT IT! Not having to plug it in is absolutely priceless in the kitchen. I got it from BB&B 20% off. It’s the only vacuum I own because we both know who does the best vacuuming in town! 🙂
Christy Cormons says
I need whatever vacuum she has – my shag rug literally looks brand new when she leaves.
v6 or v8? I’ve been comparing both online for days and am exhausted. I don’t even care what it costs – I just need a crumb free house every night when I go to bed.
Agree – there is never a Gus hair in sight when she leaves! I have the $500 one (that I bought for $400). I’d be tempted to get the mac daddy. I might be getting a new one in a year or two because I use mine every single day a few times a day and it’s feeling the wear and tear after 3 years.
I love a structured day – it helps easy my stress levels and tension. Only issue is my family are complete opposites to me. Trying to level the kitchen in a tidy useful state for the next day is impossible – I clean it only to be greeted by mucky surfaces and dishes dumped on the counter without being put in the dishwasher. Unfortunately, my parents are adverse to tidying. Seriously allergic, it feels like.