Seven Simple Steps to a Stress-Free Start

Most of us lead busy lives, trying to successfully juggle the responsibilities of home and work and personal interests into one cohesive happy life. There is nothing that could better start your busy day than having a smooth stress-free morning. You know the ones where no one raises their voice; no one has to search the bottom of a laundry basket for a matching sock; no one is in a frenzy to get out the door on time.

The thing about these stress-free mornings is they require preparation, they don't just happen; a bit of thought, a bit of planning and a bit of work the night before has the power to create a perfect launch for you and your family into your daily activities.

Here are seven simple steps that can be incorporated into your nightly routine that will help you start your morning right:

1. Empty the dishwasher so it is ready to receive the dirty breakfast dishes.

2. Set the coffee maker. Even if you don't have one with a timer, you can put in a clean filter coffee and fill with water, ready for just a quick flick of a button. Place travel mugs conveniently next to the coffee maker.

3. Have your family members pick out their clothes for the next morning. Don't forget underwear, socks, and shoes as well as any extra item that you may need.

4. Pack you bag lunches the night before. I have started doing this as I clean up the supper dishes. Put leftovers into small containers that can be heated up in a microwave. Make up sandwich fillings, pack as much as you can in the lunch bags, set aside fruit, snacks, yogurt, cheese, and drinks in reusable plastic containers or bags in lunch portions ready to be slipped into lunch bag

5. Plan breakfast. Set the table with cereal bowls and breakfast choices. You can easily mix up a batch of waffle or muffin batter and store in the refrigerator to be cooked or baked the next morning. A big batch will store for two or three days.

6. Gather personal items by the door. School bags, purses, briefcases, cell phones and keys can be housed next to the exit. Any notices that need to be signed, or money that needs to be gathered, do the night before; library books, movie rentals can be placed by the door, ready to be dropped off.

7. Check your calendar. There should be no morning surprises. Check the calendar for families after work or school activities, appointments, deadlines. Be clear about drop off and pick up arrangements with other family members.

Pamela Hatheway is a freelance writer, teacher and workshop facilator, ministering to the specific needs of women who juggle homes, families and careers. She lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick Canada with her husband David and their two daughters Anna and Olivia.

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