Something I figured out pretty early on is that I am not a morning person. At all. It takes me a good 20 minutes to be conscious after I wake up. Getting everyone up and out of the house was a challenge for me to say the least. There is nothing worse than being semi-awake and searching for a random shoe or realizing that you have nothing to send for lunch. Now that all of my kids are in school, it is even more important for me to be on my A-game in the morning. I have discovered that I am at my best when my morning starts the night before. I do as much as I possibly can the night before to make for a smoother morning.

Even when my children were babies, I always got a head start on the day the night before. There are a lot of things that you can do to get a jump start. These days, I start by laying out everyone’s clothes before they go to bed. They have a chance to veto then, but in the morning, they need to wear what I lay out for them. After they go to bed, I do a once over of the house. I straighten up and put away anything that needs to find a home. I do a pretty good once over of the kitchen. I wipe down the counters, get the dishwasher started or unloaded, take out the trash, and set out the breakfast dishes. I pour milk/juice and keep it in the fridge. I pack lunches and make sure that all of the school paper work is signed and backpacks are ready for the day. It sounds like a lot, but it takes me 30 minutes max. I cannot even begin to tell you how much nicer it is to go to bed and wake up knowing that there is no reason to rush in the morning.

I try to do as much ahead of time as I can all the time. When papers come home from school that need to be signed or need money, I take care of it right away. I keep some cash at home hidden in the cabinet for the random field trips or coaches gift. I schedule everything in my calendar as it comes in. I buy birthday gifts online when the invitation comes home. (This is a huge improvement from wrapping it in the car after hitting Target 15 minutes before go time.) The more I get done ahead of time, the less stressed out I feel. Managing a home is a lot like running a business. It takes a lot of organization, thought, and work. My happiness is greatly improved when I feel like I have a handle on our day-to-day lives.

What can you do ahead of time to make your days run more smoothly?