We’re all familiar with the morning scramble, aren’t we? Well most of us are anyway. And, for working moms, the chaos of the morning can wreak havoc on the rest of the day.
And, sadly, it doesn’t take much.
It could be as simple as cutting your child’s morning apple into cubes, not slices. Or the need for a second diaper change after you’ve wrestled your toddler into their snowsuit. Or realizing you’ve forgotten your freshly pumped breastmilk on the counter when you’re already halfway to the daycare.
No matter the incident, it can bring on a lot of grumpy faces and lack of cooperation from the littles in the house, while the adults practice their under-breath cursing, negotiation skills, and how they can run up and down and around the house without breaking a bone.
Such starts leave too many working moms — and working dads, too — literally breathless and emotionally spent by the time we get to the office to begin our work day. And, more times than not, late.
What’s more, it can have lingering effects that leave us distracted or less productive at work, and make it difficult to unwind after the day is complete.
After such days, we vow to do better the next day.
1. Claim me time in the morning.
One introverted mom shared that most mornings she’d be awoken by her little listing out her demands of the day. Before she was fully awake, she already felt exhausted. So, she decided to claim me time just for herself by waking up a little earlier in the morning.
Most mornings she’d work out using a fitness app. Other times, she’d snuggle into her favorite chair to review her day’s calendar, scroll through the day’s headlines or take a few private moments in the bathroom.
Getting out of bed ahead of time has allowed her to wake up slowly and gave her the room to breath in a new day. Plus, her child started going to dad’s side of the bed first thing in the morning.
2. Start with a quick win.
A consultant and mother to three boys explained that she starts her day with a quick win. It’s a trick she picked up at work. You look for the lowest hanging fruit, she says, and get it done. It has to be quick and super easy, but once it’s done you’re left feeling like you’re making real progress.
With such busy schedules, this mama’s win is a family breakfast. She explains that sitting together even for as little as five minutes keeps the guilt at bay for the rest of the day.
If a sit down breakfast is too much to handle in the morning, consider making your bed or hanging up yesterday’s clothes you left in a puddle by your bedside.
3. Go tech free.
With technology our work days never seem to end. A marketing director and mama, explained she doesn’t look at her phone until she has left the house in the morning. Before going tech-free, her mornings were stressful for everyone: “I was replying to emails, making lists all the while barking orders at my girls to get ready.”
Now, her phone is on sleep mode until 8am, so she’s not distracted by the incessant pings of notifications. After she’s said her goodbyes and before driving off to work, she spends a few minutes in the car to review what’s come in overnight. She replies to the ones that need a quick response, and the others she reflects upon during her drive into the office.
4. Make a connection
We all need a little more joy in our lives and making time for it in the morning helps create less stressful mornings for everyone.
One entrepreneur mom says she takes a few minutes in the morning to spend privately with each of her twins. She’ll cuddle in bed with one or share a secret with the other, whatever it is that they seem to need or want. When she does, she explains, her children are more cooperative and willing to listen. These moments are good for this mama, too, who says she feels less guilty for the rest of the day.
5. Dance it out.
Music has the power to transform how we feel. Be it singing along or hopping to the beat, this mom of two has seen first hand how music can turn morning frowns upside down. Plus, dancing almost always gets the slowest morning movers moving. So, find a radio station or a playlist that has happy, hoppy songs and get listening.
It’s likely you won’t be able to fit all of these hacks into your already jam-packed mornings. But, giving one or two a try may make your mornings — and days — a bit brighter.
6. Limit time-consuming tasks.
"As crazy as it sounds, I've tried to eliminate anything that takes time in the morning. If I'm going to shower, it needs to happen the night before. My outfit and lunch for the next day need to be ready to go before I hit the sheets for some shut-eye. I've been trying to proactively think about what can be done the night before and luckily, most things can! I also pack my son's cloth diapers and his bag to take to the babysitter in the morning." — Sarah Kulchar, The Bump
7. Pack Lunches the Night Before.
"Preparing the night before spilled into other areas of my life and made me a bit more organized overall! Mornings still are a bit of a scramble, but I found myself planning in other areas of my life which had made my mornings a bit more relaxed overall. I sometimes found it hard to take the time in the evening to prepare breakfast or pack lunch; however, I knew that it would help my mornings so it was worth prioritizing." — Cameron Rivinus, Brit + Co’s VP of Commerce and mother of two
8. Use list-making to your advantage.
"One of my best friends in the morning — and when I'm packing my son's diaper bag and my work bag — is a list of what needs to be included. Balancing a 45-hour work week, being a mom to an infant, writing for my blog, and all of the other endeavors that flood my life daily can make remembering everything at 5 a.m. a bit daunting. Write out your list for the things you need every day, stash it in your kitchen or even in the bag itself and the daily packing will become a breeze." — Sarah Kulchar, The Bump
9. Plan for a few time-sucking events.
"This might sound like a "duh" thing to suggest, but it still amazes me what unpredictable things can happen in the morning. A few examples from our house might include missing our alarm, an unexpected feeding or pumping session that can't wait (especially because I feed my baby on demand), or the outfit I laid out having an unseen stain. I have yet to successfully get up early enough to make sure there's extra time, but I'm still working towards that! Whether you're a working mom or you stay at home, we can look at our morning routines as a challenge to tackle successfully every day. If you don't get it right today, then there's always tomorrow to try again!" — Sarah Kulchar, The Bump
10. Pick out clothes the night before.
"I know, obvious, but seriously: I’m a wardrobe waffler. I’m bad at visualizing That Shirt with Those Pants, and need to try things on. There is NO TIME for this, once you throw a child into the mix. That first outfit better be the Winning Outfit, so either try stuff on the night before or keep your work outfits organized in your closet (coordinated pieces pinned or at least grouped together) so you can quickly make a decision in case of unexpected weather or meeting or something." — Amalah, Alpha Mom
11. If your baby goes to daycare, pack the bag the night before.
"The baby has a lot of routines you can’t skip or condense in the morning she’ll need a diaper and fresh clothes and breastfeeding or a bottle or even some cereal (and then likely, another diaper and another change of clothes), so don’t even think about mixing the day’s bottles or checking the report card for “WE NEED WIPES” or “PLZ SEND BIBS” right in the middle of that." — Amalah, Alpha Mom
12. Write your “mental checklist” down, and hang it next to your keys.
"Once I realized my tendency to forget essential items in my rush out the door, I made two lists on Post-Its and stuck them above our key holder. One was semi-permanent: PURSE. LAPTOP. NOAH’S BAG. BOTTLES. AMY’S LUNCH. BREASTPUMP SUPPLIES. And etc. Then I made another one that included anything “special” for that day, like a specific file folder for work or extra wipes or a permission slip for daycare or just that book I’d been meaning to return to my coworker for weeks now." — Amalah, Alpha Mom
13. Encourage independence.
"If you have a toddler, you have a child old enough to follow simple directions. My oldest son likes to put away his shoes and climb into his car seat. It isn't always as fast as I would like, but it frees me up to take care of the kid who can't help himself. He also is great entertainment for the baby, provided I can keep one eye on them and am within yelling distance to say, 'EASY! You have to be gentle with your brother.'" — Hillary Copsey, Spark People
14. Make everyone help.
"My husband packs lunches every night. Even if he doesn't always hit all the major food groups, it's packed and ready, and that's what matters. My toddler carries his lunch bag into school, even if it means we walk a little slower. Even the baby is asked to 'hang tight' for five minutes in the evenings while I get a snack for his brother and put away the breast milk I pumped at work." — Hillary Copsey, Spark People
There's no one routine for morning routine for working moms. Waking up early can be difficult for a working mother who has a lot of morning chores. For some, waking up early to tackle all the tasks that build up — the laundry, packing the lunch bag(s), making sure the kid(s) brush their teeth and eat breakfast, making sure they eat breakfast, getting coffee in the coffee pot, cleaning the dishes after breakfast and getting the kid(s) to school on schedule — they feel they could use some extra time, as things don't always go according toplan. These tips and tricks should help!
Lisa Durante is committed to helping working mothers thrive. She offers working moms training and resources to help them manage the transitions that come with parenthood. She also offers training and consulting services to companies so they can better support and retain employees through parental transitions. Learn more at lisadurante.com.