By Gretta Monahan
By now, we’ve settled into our time-crunched fall schedules. Whether you’re working in an office with early-morning meetings or you’re a parent who needs to get the kids out of the house on time — or both — mornings for most of us are one of the most hectic times of the day.
At my house, it feels like I’ve tried everything over the years to cut down on the a.m. stress for myself and my family. Things can still get brutal and frazzled now and then, but a few tactics have definitely made a big difference in saving time and cutting down on stress. From beauty hacks to do-ahead habits, here are the tricks that have worked:
Make like a grade school girl and pick out your outfit the night before:
Plenty of us started doing this back when we were tweens. But somewhere along the way, lots of us forgot to keep it up. Choosing an outfit in the morning is time-consuming; some choices made while half asleep can be disastrous. Just put in a solid few minutes before bed while you’re wide awake, and save yourself time and headache the next morning.
Organize all your crucial items right by the door:
In that same spirit of prepping the night before to make life waaaay easier, I learned the hard way (by running late when I couldn’t find my keys/shades/wallet/etc.) to get it all together in the evening and leave on a table or a safe space near the door. That way, instead of searching like a madwoman for them all over my kitchen, I can grab them without thinking, even when I’ve got coffee in one hand and a kid in the other. I’m teaching my kids to get in the same habit with their own stuff: Every night before they brush their teeth, they pack their backpacks and put them by the door, so all we need to do is grab them.
Don’t bother with a full face of makeup:
Does anyone really expect us to walk into our first meeting looking runway-ready, in a full and perfect makeup job? I’ve learned to just focus on the basics such as evening out skin tone, a dash of eyeliner and mascara and brows, and a quick dab of gloss. Or in a real rush, skip the whole eye shebang and instead go for your most flattering shade of red lipstick. The look is artful and pretty, and comes off as a purposeful statement (even when it was really just a time-induced necessity).
Cut hair styling time by more than half:
More prepping in advance, and this one’s easy as pie. Instead of spending epic amounts of time styling my hair with a dryer and/or flat iron in front off the mirror, whenever I can, I shower the night before, and when my hair is still a tad wet, I make life easier for myself. If I want loose waves, I do two braids, sleep on them, and then in the morning quickly blow dry to set it before giving it a quick brush. Pillow rollers work great, too (and are far more comfy to sleep on than traditional rollers), and give you big, polished curls. And for those mornings when I really need a full shampoo and conditioning but don’t have time, dry shampoo can be the ultimate lifesaver.
Get something healthy in your body so you can keep going:
I’m one of those people who can’t fully function on an empty stomach, so I always have to grab something fast to get my metabolism running. I’ve been known to pre-make breakfast burritos the night before (that I grab and quickly reheat), and I have friends who swear by making oatmeal in the slow cooker overnight, so the whole family can dig in and eat it up without a wait. But my current favorite, if you’re a smoothie fanatic, is this: Put all of your ingredients together in the blender and keep it in the fridge, so literally all you have to do is press a button, pour, drink it up, and you’re out the door, energized.