Mornings. I have a love/hate relationship with my mornings. My alarm always seems too loud. My dogs need to go outside. The kids’ lunches need to be made. Laundry needs to be started. Coffee needs to be brewed (and consumed!). Tonight’s dinner needs to be prepped.
Oh, and then there’s today’s workload! Emails need to be checked. Meetings need to be prepped. Deadlines need to be met. And I should probably consider taking a shower! Or maybe that can wait…
Being the productivity-obsessed bunch that we are, we at Don’t Panic spend a lot of time around our virtual office chatting about how to conquer our mornings in the best way. In a recent discussion, we all noticed a strong separation in how different team members’ mornings look. That disconnect came down to one thing: having kids.
The parenting contingent of the Don’t Panic team is still in the minority, but we’re growing fast, and we know there are some unique challenges involved in working virtually as a parent. So today we’re talking specifically about morning routines for work at home moms.
Here are a few of the tricks and routines that help me start my mornings off right.
1) Start the Day Doing Something You Love
As parents and as virtual workers, we all spend a significant portion of our days working on someone else’s timeline. Everyone needs breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. The dogs need to go out. Shoes and jackets and homework go missing. Everything is a crisis that needs to be solved now! But first…
I have committed to giving the first 15 minutes of my day each morning to myself. I spend the first part of my morning drinking a cup of coffee and reading. Fifteen minutes may not seem like much, but by allowing myself that short time, I am able to feel in control of my day, having a clear mind to conquer all of the tasks that lie ahead.
What do you love to do? What will make you want to get out of bed in the morning? Consider taking 15 minutes for yourself in the morning to do something you enjoy or feel passionate about.
2) Set the Mood in the House
Nothing says good morning like tripping over my kid’s toy that was left in the middle of the living room and then hearing it play a loud tune on repeat. (Someone remind me to pull the batteries from that thing?)
When it comes to mornings in a busy family, one trip over a toy or lost item can set everyone into a frenzy for the rest of the day. To avoid the panic, I’ve learned to do a quick sweep of the house each night to be sure we’re ready for the morning. What could you take off your plate in the mornings by planning the night before?
And while you’re setting the mood, why not get a little music going? I like to get some peaceful acoustic music going in the mornings, which helps remind us all to slow our rolls.
3) Plan Ahead
Working as a VA has taught me that if I fail to plan, I plan to fail. Each task for each client needs to be scheduled and accounted for so nothing gets left behind. I use several planning tools including editorial calendars, task management tools, and well, there is pretty much a tool for everything (if you want to see some of my favorites, this handy postwire is great!)
As a mom I use tools too! I set reminders in my phone, write things on my hand, and keep all my calendars organized and at my fingertips using my Sunrise App.
4) Use Visual Reminders
Have I mentioned yet that not only am I a mom and a VA, but I am also human? And occasionally I forget things? So while virtual tools are great, sometimes I need a reminder that is right in front of my face. For that, I rely on the weekly calendar right on my refrigerator.
Having the calendar posted in a central place gives me visual reminders throughout the day of my responsibilities, so I can stay on track. And by having it on the refrigerator it also reminds me to eat!
Need even more visual reminders? Try sticking post-it notes to your front door. My post-its remind me of important “must do’s” throughout the day, and when I accomplish them I get to take them off the door! The last thing I want is a phone call from my child’s school telling me I forgot to pack their lunch…
5) Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Ok. I’ll admit it. I am the worst at this. But I know how true it is that starting my day off with a healthy meal fuels me for my day of taking care of others. I have little ones depending on me; I have clients who I need to assist. If I don’t eat, I will crumble and maybe get a little bit hangry. And no one wants to see a hangry WAHM! I’m hoping this will be the year that I can add a healthy breakfast to my first 15 minutes to set me up for the best possible day.
What do mornings look like at your house? What do you do to deflect the panic? Tweet us @dontpanicmgmt to share your best tips and tricks!