Staying Sane: Start your morning the night before

This is something so obvious and already known to be true by all working mothers out there. So I really don’t know why I’m going to write about this. You already know it. But maybe it is a rule that is so important that it is I guess good to reinforce from time to time.

Getting out of the door is not easy with kids. Hell, it isn’t easy by yourself sometimes (e.g., where did I leave my keys? I don’t like this outfit… maybe this one…. I didn’t charge up my phone…. ugh). Add kids to the mix, and add a busy commute, multiple drop offs to daycare/school, some crankiness (from you and/or the kids), runny noses, temper tantrums, milk spilt on the floor, lunches, and kids hanging onto your legs… now THAT’s a recipe for disaster.

It is clear to every working mother that the most obvious thing to do when you are faced with situations that can so quickly go out of control, is control whatever you can in advance to hopefully streamline and make your life easier when you know you will need it.

In our house, the LAST ferry leaves at 8:30. There are THREE drop-offs for our FOUR children. Not fun. Plain and simple. Actually, it sucks. That’s all there is to it. But, I’ve managed to put some structure in place the night before to make things easier for us in the scramble of the morning… .if you’ve been reading the daily journal here, you already be familiar with much of the routine. The list below is a full list and I certainly do not follow everything at all times…. although I probably should.

  • Sunday nights involve packing the daycare bag for the week. All clothes and socks that Twin Husky and Twin Crazy will need for the week are in there. Diapers, wipes, you name it. The bag is packed and in the hallway waiting by the garage door.
  • Similarly, Red’s linen bag for daycare is also ready to go the night before. It sits right near the daycare bag.
  • Older kids clothes are picked out by them, and placed in piles on their floor so they can get
    dressed themselves in the AM. When they were younger, just having the piles ready for us to change them were good enough.
  • When I was on lunch duty, I also started thinking about the lunch the night before; anything I could do in advance I did (e.g., juices in thermos cups).
  • All jackets and shoes are in their proper place. This has always been hard for us. No matter how hard I try to have the kids take off their shoes and keep them in one place, one child forgets and then the routine is hammered the next morning. This includes jackets. This has really caused beautifully smooth mornings unwind into stressful teary experiences for everyone involved…. all it takes is one damn lost shoe out of eight feet and your timing is totally messed up. So, all shoes and jackets need to be accounted for and immediately accessible. Our new, ingenious system was a suggestion from our child custody mediator. Put hooks up and bins and get the kids trained to use them. I went a step further and put pictures of them and also name tags in big letters. It is working great with Twin Crazy and Twin Husky. Twin Crazy really enjoys putting things away and comes back to be with a huge, proud look on her face when she succeeds. Red is accustomed to this at school, as is Big Bro. But he, as usual, is always the one to say “where is my jacket? Where are my shoes??” Uggh. I do believe that we will get there though, eventually.
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  • I also make sure that my own bag is ready…. iPad, phone, wallet, and work computer if I brought it home. Keys are always in one place ready to go.
  • If I am having a big meeting the next day, I think through what I’m going to wear the night before. This is particularly important during PMS. This can REALLY throw you off.
  • I sometimes set the coffee machine on the night before on timer.
  • On good nights, I even think through the next day’s dinner and take out whatever I need from the freezer to defrost overnight.
  • All lunchbags, backpacks, etc. are in places that are easy to find (e.g., backpack by the back door near the garage).
  • When the Twins come downstairs, I make sure they also bring what they will need for daycare that day – Twin Crazy’s lovey blanket and Twin Husky’s “Tiger”. That way I know these items are somewhere on the first floor before we leave.
  • So, that is just a summary of the run-down that you may have read before in some form or another. This is the easiest rule as ANY parent knows when you are trying to leave the house with a child. Make sure that anything that can be organized and put together is done so the night before the morning rush with the child. You learn this very quickly. And I guess managing the diaper bag is the first part of training for any working parent.

    As a working mother, what other things do you take care of the night before to make your commute easier??? Or to make your morning with your kids run smoother and less stressful???

    Sorry for this cop-out of an entry. I know you did not learn anything new. This is Working Mother 101 here. But, maybe we can learn a few more tricks from other mamas out there….

    Thanks for listening –
    – Mama K


    1. Jeanette says:

      We do the same-everything ready the night before. My daughter goes to Catholic School so she wears a uniform, which eliminates the whole “I don’t like my outfit” issues! I I do go through her school folder every night and send back any permission slips, etc. immediately -if I put them asisde to get to at a later date, I tend to forget about things. I review our calendar for the week so we all know what we are doing each day with after-school activities, etc. I do try to think about dinner the night before so I can defrost if needed. The crockpot is a godsend especially on the days we get home later. We have a dog too, which means she has to be let out then fenced off in the laundry room right before we leave. I do try to check the gas in my car the day before because I have to go out of my way to get to a gas station before work. Well, now we know why we are tired moms! I do find that, at least in my house, I am the one to initiate all of these things. For instance, Husband is perfectly willing to, say, make our daughter’s lunch, if I ask, but he doesn’t think of it otherwise. Hmm, I wonder if it’s just the way men are wired or how we train them-LOL!

      • Yes it sounds like we all have similar routines! I think women and men are just wired differently. I also recently realized that it’s also how we enable them. They don’t know it (or maybe the do?), but if everything is getting done around them, they don’t need to step up. BUT: if you were to pull back and stop doing something, they would step up to fill the gap. I learned this the hard way. In my relationship there were issues with the financials (income) and also heavy lifting of child care duties, cleaning, etc. And what I realize is that I enabled much of the behavior because I did so much without screaming out for help. But that’s over now, time to move on. I guess you live and learn…. I won’t enable again – and a fear of mine now is that I wind up parenting two sons to be the same way…. being the enabler, allowing them to sit back and get lazy/spoiled, expecting me (any women) to pick up the slack…. uggh. We create the monsters….

    2. I always find that I start out so strong on Sunday night… doing alot of these same things. But by Tuesday night, it begins to falter. By Friday, it’s a mad-dash in the a.m. to kids, let alone with hair-brushed and lunches packed and breakfasts eaten. I always say “next week, I’m gonna stay strong… next week, for sure…” and yet, it’s always the same gradual fall-from-grace Sunday to Friday. This working mom thing is such a marathon needing alot of stamina!

      • I find that too. I get sloppy. I also completely neglect myself. My make up gets put on in the office – and I am wearing a lot less of it these days. I rarely eat breakfast at home and wind up getting it on my way to work. I hear it gets easier as kids get older – they pick up a lot of the routine but still… sigh….

        • My kids are 8 1/2 & 6, and yes, it’s gotten so much easier (this am, I told them whatever wasn’t cleaned up in the playroom was going into a donation bag… and voila, they cleaned) BUT it’s still so hard. I suspect it only gets easy when they leave for college. And yes, I think the “Mom Neglect” is true and pervasive. Despite my attempts to “remember to put myself on the list,” it’s so clear that my needs are the lowest. I put work fairly high but work isn’t about my needs (I’m impressed you put on mascara! On the one-day-a-week that I manage to put on lip-liner, my son will say, “Wow Mom. You look fancy. Where are you going?” Double sigh.

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