Mornings can be hectic and awful. I'm writing this because I failed colossally at mornings this week. My kids hate to buy lunch and I made them buy almost all week because I didn't have my morning together enough to pack. They left the house looking like they dressed themselves because they did. Yes, they're old enough to pack their own lunches and pick out clothes, but that's another blog for another time. I'm blaming my bad week on the fact that I turned 40 on Thursday, so I must just be too old to do it properly.
You know how in the old testament and in modern Jewish culture God's people start their day the evening before? We should think this way with our mornings. A good morning starts in the evening. Weeks when I have it together, I remember this. When I forget, it's the worst.
Evenings are hard. Maybe even harder than some mornings. In my house, we get back from dance or sports, and then we either clean up from dinner (that happened at 4:00 before we raced out the door) or we eat dinner. Then the older two have reading to do and the younger two turn into gremlins. Seriously, every night at least one does. They run around the house like drunk field mice loudly scurrying away if we dare to try to put their jammies on or brush their teeth. Also tasks they could do themselvesbut not in drunk field mouse mode. Next, our older two (who were quietly reading on the couch) begin to bug each other. It starts with a "Stop putting your feet on my leg", then some squealing, and usually ends in a wrestling match where one of them is near-fatally injured (at least according to them).
Three excruciating hours and many, many, picture books later, they're asleep. My husband and I look at each other with an expression that says, "Having kids was your idea."
At this point, I have three options.
1. Close my eyes right there and go to sleep.
2. Get up and do the basic bedtime. Lock doors, turn off lights, make sure the dog made it back inside after her last bathroom break.
3. Make a good morning.
A good morning means doing more than the bare minimum at night. In my house this is what's required of a good morning:
1. Floors. Do a quick pick up of toys and items on the floor. (stepping over or on toys in the morning is a recipe for yelling and tears.)
2. Surfaces. Clear tabletops and counters of clutter. This isn't the time to go through a pile of papers, but it is time to put that cereal box in the pantry.
3. Dishes. Move the dishes to the next step whether that's washing dishes by hand, loading and/or starting the dishwasher, or emptying clean dishes.
4. Laundry. Move wet laundry to the dryer or throw in a load and delay its start to earlier in the morning so it stays fresh.
5. Lunches. Pack the night before for efficiency and without kids' input.
6. Backpacks. Check folders for things that need action such as papers to be signed, checks to send in, or items to put on the calendar. Doing these things in the morning always feels unnecessarily stressful and things get lost in piles on the counter.
I can do this list in about 20 minutes (less if Ryan's home and we do it together) That 20 minutes is the difference between a hectic, tantrum-throwing, tear-filled morning and a pleasant one. (I won't say who's doing the tantrum-throwing.) It's me. Usually it's me.
A good morning includes working out, time in the Bible, and good conversations with kids at breakfast. We all start our day feeling rested, loved, and equipped for whatever we may encounter. If the difference is only about 20 minutes, why wouldn't I want to make that happen? I need a sign on my ceiling that says, "A Great day is only 20 minutes away" so that when I collapse in exhaustion at the end of the day, I'm reminded to set us up for success not failure the following morning.
Also, don't be surprised if I re-run this blog post once a month because I constantly need this reminder. Do you have tips for good mornings? I'd love to hear your ideas.