Are you running around like a chicken with your head cut off, always putting out fires instead of having a smooth day? Tired of always feeling like you’re behind? Here are ten things I do the day before to keep my sanity, decrease mental clutter and lower my stress levels on busy days.
Lay Out Clothes
Each night after dinner, I have my kids lay out their clothes for the next day and I do a quick inspection to make sure that we aren’t missing any buttons or have errant stains I missed while doing laundry. That gives us time to swap outfits, run laundry or do any necessary repairs instead of realizing there’s a problem five minutes before we walk out the door. Or worse, realize it once I’ve arrived where I’m going.
I lay out my own clothes for tomorrow each night as part of my bedtime routine.
Set It Out
Along with the clothes, any items needed for the next day are set out during my bedtime routine. Purses, backpacks, paperwork, lunches, things to take to the post office, items to return to the store or drop by Mom’s house, whatever is needed. This prevents mental clutter, because I’m not trying to remember whether or not I have everything while walking out the door. The less mental clutter I have, the more patient and happier I am.
I have a designated spot where everything is placed to be picked up on the way out the door. This eventually trains everyone in the family to place things in the correct spot, further reducing mental clutter for me. For our family, we have a bench beside the front door that is our designated spot for things that need to leave the house with us.
This spot is also handy if I need to leave something for a family member to pick up but I can’t let them know I’m leaving it for them. This helps when I remember that the kids or my husband need something the next day but they aren’t currently at home. I know if I place it on the bench beside our front door, it will get picked up on the way out the next morning, even if I don’t remind them that it is there.
My kids go to bed at 8:30 every night. There’s two reasons for that decision- first, they need their sleep and I’m convinced most kids don’t get enough rest. Second, mama needs a little down time each day to plan ahead for tomorrow and assemble whatever is needed. Then I can still spend a little time with Daddy before turning in at a reasonable hour.
Once the kids are in bed each night, I turn my attention to tomorrow’s to do list. If we’re going somewhere, I make sure everything is ready on my end. Then I do any needed food prep, relax a little, then go through my bedtime routine.
I cannot stress the importance of menu planning enough, but doubly so when I’m very busy. That way, I don’t spend valuable mental energy and create mental clutter for myself, worrying over what to fix and if I have what I need to make the meal.
Menu planning a day or two in advance gives the flexibility I need to make sure I have everything on hand and the time needed for meal preparation will work for my schedule. It prevents take-out, blowing the budget on restaurants and eating otherwise lower quality food. In short, it makes being busy far easier on everyone’s health and my budget.
If you don’t want to menu plan or don’t have time, our Classic Menu Mailer is thirty minutes or less of hands-on time each night for a real food meal that is hearty, family friendly fare. We even include a weekly schedule so you are reminded when to soak, thaw or prep everything. You don’t have to think or plan, just follow the list each day. More time and less mental clutter- that’s a win-win in my book.
If we’re going to be busy and away from home, I plan a crock-pot meal for dinner. That will allow me to assemble the crock-pot the night before and stash it in the fridge. The next morning, I simply pop it in the base and turn it on Low so I don’t have to worry about dinner after a busy day. I just have to throw together a quick salad, maybe cook a pot of rice and dinner is served.
I always set my alarm clock for ten minutes earlier than I think I will need to get out the door in the morning. That way, if something does go wrong, I have a cushion of time to still let me get where I am going without being late. I always try to leave a few minutes early, in case I hit abnormal traffic or have an unexpected emergency, such as a flat tire.
I cook extra breakfast muffins or waffles and pop them in the freezer. It gives me some space and a cushion for those crazy days. Thawing them the night before means I don’t have to cook breakfast, just heat and eat.
I can’t over-emphasize the importance of adequate sleep. If I want to make sure I have a stressed, crazy day, I will go to bed late. It will make me tired, impatient, fuzzy and distracted.
I have found that I have a set limit as to what I can accomplish in a day. If I sacrifice sleep for work time, my productivity drops. So I am not as well rested AND I don’t get more done. I work slower because I’m fuzzy from tiredness. I’m more likely to make mistakes, be irritable or impatient. Sacrificing sleep just isn’t worth it except in emergencies.
I have one child who almost always wakes up happy and ready to start the day. However, I do have one who doesn’t always wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, happy to greet the day. Once they are awake, I put on some happy, fast-paced music to encourage them to get down to business and get ready to go with a good attitude. It helps everyone start the day off right.
What do you do to make sure you keep your sanity on busy days? Tell us in the comments below.