I have struggled at each stage of parenting to get the mornings done well and still do.
Not that long ago I hit another Morning Routine Rut and could NOT get things going. I'd wake up later than I wanted, stumble into the kitchen for coffee, and waste a couple hours online. I'd feel like the rest of my day was ruined, no matter how I tried to make up for it.
So I stopped trying to fix my morning routine.
Instead, I changed my focus to my evening routine. And it made all the difference.
Instead of watching TV, being online, or reading (falling asleep on the couch with a book in my lap), I make it a priority at about a half hour to an hour before bed to work on my evening routine. The cool thing is that when my evening stuff is done, it almost always guarantees a great morning routine!
Here's my usual evening routine:
10 Minute House Pickup--when the boys were babies, this was essential to get all their toys tossed into baskets and all the bottles loaded in the dishwasher. Now that they are teens, I usually ask them to do their assigned rooms. (Each boy has a room of the house that is "theirs" to keep clean in addition to their own rooms--My oldest has the kitchen, because he's the biggest mess offender in that area, my middle son has the dining room, and my youngest the living room.) 10 min is a great amount of time to get things put back in their places and wipe down messes.
Sweep--Most of the time, the boys do this as part of their pickup time. There is nothing worse than walking into a kitchen with bare feet in the morning and having crumbs sticking to your feet.
Take Laundry Out of Washer--The boys all do their own laundry, which means they start a load in the washer then forget about it... which means they sour quickly and smell awful. So each evening I double check the washer and make sure all clothes are at least drying in the dryer.
Make Lunch-- Mr. Measure takes a lunch each day and likes the ease of sandwiches, so every night I make him two sandwiches and store in the fridge. I really hate making sandwiches, but I hate reaching into a bag of cold, wet lunch meat first thing in the morning even more. *urp*
Shine the Sink--This is 100% Flylady. Sometimes I just make sure there are no food scraps hardening in the sink, but when I do it right and spray bleach cleaner and use windex on the faucet, it's pretty awesome to wake up to.
Change Dish Towels--I HATE that sour smell of old dish cloths! Every evening I put a fresh one out and add the old one to the laundry. I do the same for the hand towels too.
Lay Out Workout Clothes-- If I lay them out I can make sure everything I need is washed and ready to go. If they're out, it's quick to dress in the morning and if I'm dressed in workout clothes it improves my odds of actually working out. My goal has been sweating in the morning for a half hour 4 times a week. Laying out the clothes pretty much ensures it happens.
Charge Electronics-- I check my iPod (with the couch to 5k app I'm currently sweating through with my youngest), my phone, and my kindle. Charging as needed.
Lay Out Bible--I clean off my desk (where I read my Bible in the mornings with coffee) and lay out my Bible, journal, and pen. I make sure the desk is uncluttered and inviting.
Shower, Floss, Vitamins--I moved our huge Costco sized multi-vitamins into the bathroom and have been consistent with taking one a night when I am brushing my teeth. Same with my allergy meds, and this year has been the best for not having eye-swelling, throat-itching allergies!
Wipe out bathroom sink and change hand towel--I usually just use the bathroom hand towel and get a bit of it wet and wipe down around the soap dispenser. There is so much soap dripped there that I use that to clean the sink, faucet, and countertop. The old handtowel goes in the wash and a fresh one is laid out. If the mirror is bad, I use a dry section of the same handtowel to wipe it down the the glass cleaner we keep in the bathroom.
Read-Aloud--We started our Reading Promise years ago, and though we aren't as regular as I'd like in the summers, it's been a good way to get everyone calmed down for the night, and a great way to just be together again before bed.
My morning is completely dependent on if I've done my evening routine. If I haven't then I spend the day putting out fires instead of what I want to do. If I focus, it really takes me no more than a half hour to do the activities and another 15-20 min for read aloud.
It requires discipline to stop what I'm doing and get to work on my evening routine, and Flylady recommends starting it right after dinner. I seem to do better if I do it an hour before bed, so I can use that right after dinner time to enjoy my family or read before I'm too tired to.
What do you think? Do you have a evening routine? Is there even just one thing you could start doing the night before to make a better morning?