As I’m a working, single mother of two children, a lot of people ask me how I manage to get my kids out in the mornings and get to work on time.
Four days a week we have to be on our bikes by 7.05am.
My two kids, aged four and seven, need to be dressed, fed and in the mood to cycle five kilometres to kinder and school, in all weather, because we don’t have a car.
The clinic, where I work, opens at 8.30am, so I cannot be late.
I’ve been doing this since my daughter was 6 months old and it makes our lives so much easier and less stressful.
10 Tips For A Calm Superfast Morning
If you’re still working out how to balance kids and work – or if you’re looking for a better way to do your mornings – I’m sure you’ll find the following suggestions helpful:
#1: Preparation Is The Key
Have your children lay out their clothes for the morning before they go to bed. You’ll soon learn there are some hairstyles for girls that survive the night. My trick is a tight set of plaits, done when hair is damp after the evening bath; it looks great in the morning. No hair brushing means no tears.
#2: Wake Up Calm Because There’s Less To Do
Make lunches the night before. My children don’t like sandwiches so they take a wide mouth thermos with leftover pasta or soup. This means I have to microwave lunches in the mornings, but I can prepare carrot sticks and cucumber batons ahead of time. If you have a baby, and you are expressing at work, make sure your pump and bottles are by the front door, ready to go .
#3: Plan To Come Home
Previously prepared frozen dinners are really handy for busy days. Defrost them the night before and plonk them in the slow cooker in the morning. This is not only quick and no-fuss, but also helps you feel more organised and in control in the mornings.
#4: Feed Them Well, Feed Them Fast
The last thing I do before I turn in is prepare the porridge. I pour boiling water over oats and frozen berries and leave it to soak overnight. Then just before I hop in the shower in the morning I put the porridge in the microwave. An alternative is to put it in the slow cooker overnight.
Don’t offer choices on superfast mornings. Avoid having to spread Vegemite, or clear up crumbs. Healthy breakfast muffins work well – just 30 seconds in the microwave if you have to eat and run. For workday mornings, water is the only beverage on offer.
Here are 13 healthy breakfast ideas for your family.
#5: Be The Early Bird
If you can be dressed and drinking your coffee before they are even awake it keeps the atmosphere calm.
Heck, even give a menstrual cup a go. It’s one less thing to buy and you can change it in the shower – and every second counts.
Once you give up tampons you might never go back.
Find out everything you need to know about menstrual cups in BellyBelly’s article: how menstrual cups work and how to use them.
#7: Make Makeup Work Hard
Talk to the girl at the beauty counter about products that can be used for multiple purposes. Having only four things in your make up bag saves time on searching and opening. I have a separate bag just for our superfast mornings.
#8: Have A Playlist
Upbeat music is a gentle way to be woken up, and sets the mood for an efficient morning routine. Pick lyrics that are empowering and cheerful. We also tend to have a few slightly angry ‘girl power’ songs, to motivate us to move fast. If we aren’t nearly ready to go by the time we get to Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’, we need to hustle.
If it’s before 8am and you’re dropping off a child at daycare, check whether the centre is happy for you to do just a nappy change, and leave your child in his pjs. Most child care centres will change toddlers into their clothes later. Not being tugged into jeans first thing can be the difference between a happy camper and a morning meltdown. I know one woman who puts her children to bed in their school uniforms. That might be a step too far!
#10: Streamline Your Exit
Create a station by the front door for bags, shoes, gloves and cycle helmets. Some people find tick charts work well for keeping things on track. Remember, you are a team, but you’re not in the army; if you stay calm, the children will stay calm too.