How to Create a Morning Routine for a Better Day

After a long and never-ending winter, one thing became painfully obvious. We were in desperate need of getting our morning routine back on track. Snow days and morning delays led to the terrible habit of hitting the snooze button too many times and all those cold mornings made it easy to trade my early morning workouts for a few extra minutes of sipping coffee in bed.

I indulged in the moment and ended up frantically reworking my schedule during the day.

Now that the birds are chirping early, it’s much easier to feel motivated. (That, and the fact that we are almost guaranteed the kids will be in school all day). For the most part, my schedule is flexible. However, I started a few projects for a new business venture that is taking up a good part of my work, and I’m in the process of redesigning our shop (more on that later), so I have fewer hours in the day than I think.

How to Create a Morning Routine for a Better Day

How to Create a Morning Routine for a Better Day

After a few weeks of following my regular, regimented routine, I’m feeling less frazzled and more accomplished at the end of each day.  Here are the things I have to do to keep it all together, otherwise, the wheels come off the bus by noon.

Get up earlier.

Getting up earlier helps you get so much done even if you’re sleepwalking through your first few hours awake. I am not a morning person, at all, but some mornings I force my self to go to a 5 am work out, other days I’m up by 6 am. It takes a lot of discipline but here’s some ways I trick myself to bite the bullet and get moving.

Program your coffee machine the night before.

I can’t resist the smell of coffee brewing first thing in the morning. I also don’t want to waste a fresh pot, so I stumble to the kitchen, grab a cup and watch a little morning news in bed while I check my email. A few sips in and I’m good to go. Bonus when my husband brings it in for me, which is most of the time.

Lay out your workout clothes.

If I have an early workout, I leave my clothes on my nightstand so I can slip into them and waste no time. Some people sleep in them, but I’ve never been able to do that. It’s impossible to get comfortable and get a restful night sleep.

Hide your phone in another room.

Not only will the lack of blue light help you sleep better, but your overwhelming need to check your phone in the morning might force you out of bed.  When I have to get up, I set the alarm on my phone and keep it in my bathroom.  The only way to turn it off is to get up, and once I’m there, I may as well get dressed.

Sometimes getting up just 30 minutes earlier makes all the difference in the world.

Get dressed and make your bed.

Before I leave my room, I get dressed and make my bed. I also make my kids beds during the week; they do it themselves on the weekends.

It sets the stage for an organized day and helps you get in a groove faster.

One load of laundry. 

The best tip I’ve learned over the last few months is getting your laundry to one load a day.  Sometimes I do two, but it’s typically one of clothes and one of towels and rags. If you can stick to it, it frees up so much time, especially on the weekends.

Every morning, take five minutes to round up all the dirty clothes, and throw them in the wash.  If you do it first thing, you can have them finishing in the drier before you head out for the day. 

Take advantage of the quiet.

Do you ever look at the clock around 9 am and wonder what happened to the day?  This was happening so much to me I figured it was a problem. My day was feeling out of control way earlier than usual.

Admittedly, I bite off more than I can chew on a regular basis. Getting up well before my kids gives me a couple, uninterrupted hours. I can’t do anything too complicated, but between 5 am – 7 am I can catch up on administrative tasks, clear out my email and get my day set up.

See what tasks keep getting pushed to another day and tackle them in the morning instead. 

Related: 6 Tips for Working Moms to Get Through the Day Easier 

Prep as Much as You Can the Night Before

I am fanatical about nighttime prep. Here’s what I do:

Lay out the kids uniforms.

My kids do this on their own with my supervision. Apparently, their answer to “do we have everything we need?” is different than mine.

School bags checked and organized.

Again, the kids do this, but if I don’t double check, my youngest will smuggle every tiny toy she owns on the bus.

Pack lunches, fill water bottles, and get sports equipment ready for after-school practices.

We line everything up at the back door, so we minimize the madness to make the bus.

Organize whatever I’m wearing.

Whether its work out gear or jeans and a tee, I make sure I have it ready.

Plan dinner for the next night.

We’re not great at meal prep. My attempts at it are valiant, but our days are always changing. Instead, we plan on a few go-to, easy to make meals, pick a night to order in, maybe go out one night, and let it be flexible. I waste less and am less stressed.

Run the dishwasher at night and unload it before bed. 

I don’t know why but starting the day with a clean and empty dishwasher is so freeing to me.  I basically breeze through the kitchen in the morning and for a few fleeting moments feel like I have my life in order.

Finally, I write down my schedule on my calendar.

I use a paper planner and write down my to-do list. Because I work on multiple projects and businesses, I use a technique called block scheduling. It’s made all the difference in my daily productivity.

There’s no doubt good mornings are a result of organized evenings.

 

I would LOVE to know what are some thing you do in the morning, to have a better day?  Tell us in the comments below.

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom
Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Whether starting a business, working as a freelancer, or running a side hustle, more and more women are mixing motherhood and entrepreneurship. Being a work at home mom is a topic near and dear to my heart. I was 26 years old and six weeks pregnant with my oldest when I started my first business.

I had no clue or idea what I was doing, but what I lacked in experience (and money) I made up for in hustle and determination. All I knew was that I wanted to be a present, available mother and that I didn’t want to compromise my career.

Now, 11 years later, I am passionate about encouraging other women to make life choices congruent to who they are and architect a life that feels authentic and genuine. It’s the reason I write this blog. If we can inspire you to start a business, hit the gym, read a good book or help you find an outfit you feel fantastic in, I feel like we are adding value.

These days it seems like we are inundated with headlines promising the secret to four hour work days or videos of some over-caffeinated woman claiming she’s discovered the formula for “balance.” It’s so frustrating because women are being sold this false idea.

It’s almost like we’re being told, if it’s not easy for us, we’re doing it wrong. But there is no shortcut to success. Living a big, full life isn’t easy. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Here are a few of my hard-learned Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom.

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Tips to Be a Successful Work at Home Mom

Manage Your Mindset

Accept that you are going to be different. It’s not like you’re some kind of special snowflake, but you’ll definitely feel a bit like an outsider. You’re not a stay-at-home mom, and you’re not clocking in at a 9-5 job.

At many points on this journey, both will seem like epically better options than what you are trying to pull off. Working for yourself means you are responsible for everything and that breeds a lot of stress.  You’ll find your way, just know you’re not alone in feeling a bit like a freak.

This is why the next point is so important.

I keep a clear vision of what I want my life, and my family to look like, the kind of mother I want to be and a sense of gratitude for the opportunities we have because of my work top of mind. You need to know your why to push you through the rough patches because there are going to be a ton of them.

A note of caution: If your why is to get rich quick, play the lottery. You can certainly build wealth, but it’s a slow, steady and strategic process.

Keep a Firm Yet Flexible Schedule

Sticking to a set work schedule is essential. Early on, when my girls were babies and toddlers, I worked early in the morning and late in the night when they were asleep. When they napped, I caught up on emails and did some housework. Every few months evaluate if the current schedule still works, because as the kids schedule changes, so will yours.

Life becomes infinitely easier when they are in school all day. When you’re able to take advantage of the school day use it primarily for work. Schedule errands and other activities for after school or on the weekends.

But as we all know, sometimes shit hits the fan and our days are upended. There will be sick days and snow days; days you’re walking around like a zombie because you were up all night and all the general chaos of family life. When this happens, take a deep breath, do your best to focus on what needs to get done and surrender to the day.

Take all the help

You cannot do everything. Many women feel like they should and are guilty when they can’t. Asking for and accepting help is the key to your success. When your mother-in-law offers to take your kids for a few nights, say yes. Ask your neighbor across the street to watch the kids for a few hours while you’re home so you can have some uninterrupted time to work. Don’t just use help to get work done, use help to rest and take care of yourself. I was the definition of sleep-deprived early in my business if it weren’t for my parents helping, I would have burned out fast.

Buy help if you have to

I use to think “doing it all” was economical. Especially when I wasn’t making much money. The day I realized how wrong I was is burned in my memory. Maddie was around 6 and Ava was 4. My husband, of course, was on a business trip. I was having a terrible day, nothing was working out, and I was convinced I should never have left my “real job.”

On top of that, the girls were giving me a real run for my money; I had nothing to make for dinner and piles of laundry were everywhere. As I sat in the middle of their playroom, I didn’t know if I wanted to scream, or burst into tears, but I clearly remember thinking, “this is ridiculous.”

I needed a reset. So I rounded up the girls, dropped off every piece of laundry (at that point I didn’t know what was clean or dirty) to the wash and fold and took us out to dinner.

At that moment I would have paid anything for someone to get me back to center or at the least make me a cup of tea and put me to bed. Outsourcing isn’t just a way to buy back your time; it’s also a vital act of self-care. And you need to take care of yourself, so you can care for your kids and your business.

Give yourself physical and mental space

Any article you read about working from home will tell you to designate a workspace and for a good reason. Establishing a workspace and stocking it with everything you might need to be productive will help you get into your work groove quickly. That’s super important when you are working with limited time.

Something as simple as working at your kitchen island, with a box of essentials next to you, is all you need when you’re getting started.

Now and then, get out of the house. When your schedule and available help permit, escape to a local coffee shop or sit in the park with a notebook for a few hours. You need the change of environment. You’ll unlock your creativity and feel recharged.

Think outside the box

One of the great things about working for yourself out of your home is that you are in charge.  While it’s very helpful to follow a standard work day, you can also do some things that work specifically for you.

For example, on Mondays, I keep my schedule clear.  I will not schedule any meetings or phone calls.  I use the day to get set up for the week, write, schedule my marketing, maybe take an online course, do some admin work.

In the same spirit I try to keep all of my conference calls to one or two days during the week. By scheduling certain activities into blocks of time, I get much more done. Experiment with different systems until you find the one that works for you.

Now that I’m over a decade into this, I know it was the best decision I ever made.  Sometimes I feel like I work all the time (because I do) and it’s not always easy. There are days when you will take a conference call in your bedroom closet. You will bribe your kids with whatever they want to give you one more hour to work. You’ll drop your laundry off at the wash and fold because you just can’t do one more thing.

This isn’t suppose to be easy, or everyone would do it.  With all the craziness, you’ll still be able to spend quality time with your kids.  You’ll be able to be part of your community, volunteer at school, and be there for the important moments.

If you have a dream in your heart, pursuing it will make you a better mom. You’ll inspire others and will help create a world where women are empowered to live a life defined by them and no one else. Write your own rules and see how the life you really want unfolds in front of you.

6 Tips for Working Moms to Get Through the Day Easier

6 Tips for Working Moms to Make Their Lives Easier
6 Tips for Working Moms to Make Their Lives Easier -The Well Dressed Life

All moms have stress, regardless of how and where we work. Working moms (moms who work in and outside the home) have our own unique set of challenges. We “balance” full-time careers and full-time motherhood with all the responsibilities, curveballs, and craziness that comes with both roles.

I get frustrated when I see us portrayed online as these overwhelmed, frantic, and forgetful women running from the office to the car line, complaining about unhelpful husbands and kids who don’t listen. While I guess that gets an article clicked and shared, I don’t relate, and I don’t see these characteristics in the working moms I know either.

In fact, many of the working moms in my life are the most together and organized people I know.

Do they have tough moments? I’m sure they do. We all do. Are we all perfect? Not even close. My last official meltdown was on December 15th, around 10:30 am, because Christmas, at that moment, was bullshit, and I was doing ALL THE WORK.

But it was a moment in time, not my life. Yes, working and being a mother is hard, really freaking hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.

My work allows me to meet and create friendships with so many remarkable women, many of whom already raised good families and enjoyed successful careers. I have had the good fortune to receive some fantastic advice from many of these women who have been there done that.

Today, I’m sharing some of my best lessons learned – some very much learned the hard way – that have made me happier and allowed my life to run smoothly despite my busy career and family.

 6 Tips for Working Moms to Get Through the Day Easier

6 Tips for Working Moms to Make Their Lives Easier

1. Teach Your Kids Independence Early

Once your kiddos hit a certain age and ability level, give them chores. That sounds easy enough, but as a recovering perfectionist, seeing my kids’ version of a neatly made bed used to make the vein on my forehead throb.

Take deep breaths and close the door.

Eventually, they get better. They’ll never learn if you always do it for them.

These days, we call chores “contributions.”

Our philosophy is this: You’re part of a family; you live a beautiful life and have all the opportunity in the world. Therefore, you need to pull your weight.

We base each of their assigned contributions on their age, skill, and, to a degree, their interest level. I found this chart on Etsy. It hangs right outside our kitchen so they know what to do every day.

 

2. Just Say “No”

We need to say no more often — not just when it comes to volunteering to make cookies for school when you know you have zero capacity or joining yet another committee, but to other time killers as well.

Early in my life as a mom, someone told me, “If you do one thing, only make one dinner. If the kids don’t like it, too bad.” So, that has been our rule. It’s not always easy.  Call me crazy, but I refuse to make more than one dinner a day.

Take a minute to look from the outside in and ask yourself: Am I making my life more difficult by saying “yes” to things I should be saying “no” to? Start to say no to the work you don’t have to do so you can say yes to the things that matter.

Everyone will be better for it.

 

3. Embrace “Oh, Well”

Many working moms try to control everything because we understand that we are usually running a zero-margin game. This need for control really used to get to me.  I had to make myself realize that I was trying to control everything and, as a result, getting super bent out of shape about it all.

Now, I try to analyze what I’m getting worked up about and to give it value. Is it important, or can I just shrug my shoulder and say, “Oh, well”? If I can, I let it go.

Can I tell you how amazing this is?

A friend stops over, and the house is a mess. Oh, well! Here’s a glass of wine.

The babysitter cancels, and we can’t go out. Bummer, but, oh, well!

Has school declared another snow day? Oh, well, but please, no more.

I didn’t get the gig I really wanted for work. Oh, well, something else will come along.

“Oh, well” helps you acknowledge that you have no control over the situation or that it’s not that important. This technique teaches you how to manage disappointment better, allows you to make the best of the circumstances, and helps you to let go of the things that are inconsequential in the long run.

 

4. Get rid of your clutter.

Clutter is such a time killer. If you have clutter, you likely can’t find anything and are wasting a lot of energy, time, and money. By putting in the upfront work that comes with simplifying your life, you open up space not only in your home but also in your schedule and in your mind.

I enjoy following Emily Ley, a Florida based entrepreneur. Emily helps women simplify and organize their lives.  She is the creator of The Simplified Planner and author of two books: Grace Not Perfection and The Simplified Life. She’s also a wife and mom of three. Her tips are practical and digestible.

You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.  I am organized by nature and still learned many helpful new strategies.

 

5. Outsource and Automate

If your goal is to spend more time on what matters: your family, your work, your health and happiness, you have to realize you can’t do everything. If you have it in your budget, give yourself permission to outsource some household chores. You’ll get back hours in your week.

This post from last year outlines everything we currently outsource.

Along the same line as outsourcing, take advantage of all the opportunities you have to automate. Automate your savings and schedule bill payments. Sign up for Amazon Prime (how did we live without it?) so you avoid after-dinner runs to Target.

Invest in an Echo and keep it in your kitchen so you can quickly add items to your grocery list or shopping carts. By automating and outsourcing you can eliminate a significant portion of the additional workload that comes with running a household

Related: 6 Important Lessons I Learned as a Working Mom.

6. Schedule Everything

My best, most productive days are the ones that I map out hour by hour. Otherwise, the day starts to get away from me. This doesn’t mean I schedule every hour; rather, I have an idea of how much time I’m dedicating to every task and give it the time it needs.

Every Sunday night, I sit with my phone and write out my week in my planner.  I map everything including meals, who needs to be where, workouts, appointments, errands, date night and uninterrupted time with the kids.

EVERYTHING.

When I write it down with pen on paper, I own it and it always gets done. What’s great about seeing your day in writing is it gives you an opportunity to re-prioritize and eliminate time wasters that may sneak in.

Difficult doesn’t have to be Miserable

Just because this is hard doesn’t mean we can’t do it well, or that we have to sacrifice our joy. With the right mindset, systems and sense of humor; it can not only be doable, but enjoyable.

So tell us in the comments below – what was the best advice you learned as a working mom?