Morning Tips for Working Moms
I decided on this week’s topic while writing last week’s column: Mornings are tough enough during maternity leave or for a stay-at-home-mom, but for the work-outside-the-home-mom? Oh, my lord, it’s a daily experiment in terror, and I say that from experience. So how to make the morning routine and rush easier once you’re suddenly expected to get yourself AND A BABY out the door on time every day?
This was, no doubt, my downfall as a WOHM. I left late. I forgot my keys and purse and my son’s daycare bag on separate (AND SIMULTANEOUS) occasions. I am pretty sure I forgot the BABY at least once, getting all the way down three flights of stairs and down the street to my car before it dawned on me that OH RIGHT THAT. I have never been a morning person, and it showed. Here are some of my coping/organization tips from that time, though clearly, these are neither exhaustive nor foolproof.
6 Ways to Make Mornings (a Little) Easier
1. Pick out clothes the night before. I know, obvious, but seriously: I’m a wardrobe waffler. I’m bad at visualizing That Shirt with Those Pants, and need to try things on. There is NO TIME for this, once you throw a child into the mix. That first outfit better be the Winning Outfit, so either try stuff on the night before or keep your work outfits organized in your closet (coordinated pieces pinned or at least grouped together) so you can quickly make a decision in case of unexpected weather or meeting or something.
2. Get an automatic coffee maker with a timer. Learn it. Live it. Love it. I had one that brewed coffee directly into a travel mug. WORTH IT.
3. If your baby goes to daycare, pack the bag the night before. The baby has a lot of routines you can’t skip or condense in the morning she’ll need a diaper and fresh clothes and breastfeeding or a bottle or even some cereal (and then likely, another diaper and another change of clothes), so don’t even think about mixing the day’s bottles or checking the report card for “WE NEED WIPES” or “PLZ SEND BIBS” right in the middle of that.
4. Don’t be a hero. I chose a daycare close to my job, and my job only. I can’t even imagine how different those months would have been if I’d opted for one close to home instead, so Jason could help out with the drop-off and pick-up and mid-day emergency calls. That isn’t always an option for everybody — and I admit I chose our center because I planned to nurse during the day, something that lasted maybe two or three weeks at most — but oh, if you don’t absolutely HAVE to, don’t do this to yourself and your workday.
5. Write your “mental checklist” down, and hang it next to your keys. Once I realized my tendency to forget essential items in my rush out the door, I made two lists on Post-Its and stuck them above our key holder. One was semi-permanent: PURSE. LAPTOP. NOAH’S BAG. BOTTLES. AMY’S LUNCH. BREASTPUMP SUPPLIES. And etc. Then I made another one that included anything “special” for that day, like a specific file folder for work or extra wipes or a permission slip for daycare or just that book I’d been meaning to return to my coworker for weeks now.
6. If all else fails, mess with your head. Jason moved all of our clocks ahead by 10 minutes, without telling me ahead of time. It took me a couple weeks before I figured out that he’d done this — and thus, the reason I’d actually been on time or maybe only 5 or 10 minutes late, instead of 20. Even after I “knew,” I left it, just because I found the mental jolt of OH CRAP! when I looked at the clock every morning got me moving just a tad bit faster.
As always, leave your survival tips in the comments!
Published July 6, 2010. Last updated January 4, 2018.