Easy Ways To Streamline Your Morning Routine

Being prepared is the key to stress-free mornings

alarm-clock-morning-routine“There ought to be a law against looking that good this early in the morning with three little kids in tow,” another mother told me recently at our preschool. “Stop it! You’re making the rest of us look bad!”

She was laughing as she said it, but I can well understand her frustration. I’ve had plenty of rough nights since my eldest was born six years ago, and can easily see why many other moms pat themselves on the back for just being able to get to school on time wearing two shoes that match.

The coiffed hair, contoured makeup, and coordinating clothes are beyond their reach right now.

So why is that part different in my household?

Well, it wasn’t – at first.

I can clearly recall the times I’ve arrived at different destinations in various states of undress, including once in my house slippers, once with no slip, and several times without mascara.

Now these infractions may seem slight to you. But as someone who wore uniforms to school for most of her life, leaving bits and pieces of my attire behind is like being “out of uniform” for me. It’s irksome to my inner rule follower.

Because of this, I’ve learned to adapt my routines over the years to accommodate both my need to feel properly dressed when I leave the house and my children’s need to put me through every trial and tribulation known to motherhood – typically at night or as we’re trying to get out the door in the morning.

So while I don’t pretend to have all the answers to running a household like clockwork, I will share with you some of the secrets that have put the clothing portion of the puzzle on autopilot for me and everyone else in my family. For I’ve discovered that having a properly functioning closet is a lot like having a mechanically sound car – not only does it give you one less thing to think about, it makes getting up and going a snap.

Here are my top tips to streamline your morning routine:

  1. Clean Your Closet If you’ve been meaning to go through your closet for a while but haven’t gotten around to it, give it the ole’ Band Aid approach: just pull it off and be done with it. Go through every item in your closet and consign, donate, or trash anything that you don’t wear anymore. Put only the things that fit and make you look good back into your closet.
  2. Organize Your ClosetNow put those remaining clothes in order: put all jackets together, all dresses together, all blouses, skirts, pants, etc. Now you know what you have to work with at a glance. When items are arranged in a hodge-podge fashion or sharing hangers or shelf space with unrelated pieces, it’s hard to tell what’s there. I prefer to further arrange everything by color (all black pants together, all white blouses, etc.) so that I can put my hands on things instantly.
  3. Buy Clothing You Can Easily MaintainIf ironing, hand washing, and dry cleaning are just too much maintenance in your book, get into the habit of checking the care label BEFORE you head to the dressing room with an item, not when you’re standing in front of the washing machine preparing to launder it for the first time. Be merciless in your pre-buying assessment. If you’re not going to maintain it properly, fess up and put it back on the rack. Your money is better spent elsewhere.
  4. Maintain Your Clothes RegularlyHate to do laundry? What a coincidence! So does the rest of the world! But don’t dodge the issue all week only to start your weekend with a mountain of dirty clothes to wash. Instead, do a load every day (I usually start one right before I start dinner), and take the misery in small doses. Your family will love that fact that their stuff isn’t stuck in “laundry limbo” for days, and you’ll free up part of your weekends to do the things you enjoy, guilt-free. Iron, mend, and polish shoes and bags while you watch TV. What better way to do mindless work than when your brain’s already turned off? Ha!
  5. Pull Out What You’re Going To Wear The Next Day The Night BeforeThe first time I heard this, I snickered. The first time I did it, I wondered why I’d been so resistant. What a time saver! Especially on those mornings when I’ve been up with the kids all night and have to face the sunrise with only half of my pistons firing. Want to know what you have to do to get your KIDS out the door on time?Have them set out THEIR clothes for the next day the night before as well. This has-I kid you not-shaved an average of 20 minutes off our morning routine. Yee Haw!
  6. Adapt Your MakeupWhy is it that so many women adopt the “all or nothing” approach to makeup? Either they put on their full face-foundation, eye shadow, rouge, mascara, etc.-or nothing at all. It’s a complete mystery to me. You don’t wear the same clothes to a ball as to a ball game, so your makeup shouldn’t be the same. Adapt it as you would your clothing to the different situations in your life. Going to a wedding? Put on your full face. Going to a movie? Slap on some mascara and a little powder. It’s not complicated and it doesn’t take a lot of time. It does, however, impact the way you’re perceived.
  7. Get An Easy-To-Manage Hair StyleIf your hair takes you more than ten minutes to style in the morning, it’s time to find a different ‘do. While the “big hair” of the 1960’s and 1980’s required curlers, hairspray, and about an hour to set and cool, the most popular styles today require very little time.Get out of your hair rut, get a quick and easy style, and save yourself a ton of time.
  8. Demand Time For YourselfWhen time gets tight, most women tend to cut corners at the one place where they’ll meet the least resistance – themselves. They’ll go without time and again, eventually becoming bitter when no one notices or cares about the many sacrifices they make. Don’t let this happen to you. When those “Nobody cares!” feelings start to creep into your thoughts, it’s your call bell that you need time for yourself. An hour away from it all soaking in the tub, getting a manicure or pedicure, or lunch out with your friends is in order. Feel guilty? Don’t! Hard work without reward leads to burnout. Heck, even God rested on the seventh day! So should you.

If your hectic schedule has caused you to cut corners on your appearance, take a few minutes to review how you can remedy the situation. Your routines-though familiar– may be working against you, not with you. If you prepare your closet for action, adapt your hair and makeup for easy care, and buy clothing that fits your maintenance commitment, you may be surprised by just how easy it is to look great in the morning, even with a passel of kids to get out the door.

You may even have others wondering just what your secret is!

About Diana Pemberton-Sikes

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of Wardrobe Magic, an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at Fashion For Real Women. Need some tips and tricks? Pick up a copy of Wardrobe Magic. Visit her site for more information.

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