Top tips for making your daily routine easier
Christmas is a distant memory; the mornings and evenings are dark, and the days are grey. It is true that the lack of daylight and constant freezing temperatures can make it a challenge to be positive during these seemingly endless months. The good news is there are ways to make yourself feel happier to get you through the cold and dark days.
We asked a bunch of friends their top tips for keeping in control of that important daily routine. You might do some or all of them already, but these 4 easy ideas will keep the stress levels low and positivity high until the sun shines again!
1) Create TIME
In the morning get up an hour earlier. It may feel counter intuitive to raise yourself out of a cosy slumber, and particularly cruel when it’s still dark outside and you feel exhausted from the day before. But, the stillness of the house is all yours.
Pop that kettle on and get started. Take this time to prepare yourself, double check the calendar for appointments, write a to do list; write a list of items to buy, a note of kids’ pick-up times and after school classes. Have it all in your mind.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to, have an early morning stroll, do some yoga or stretching. Shower using some uplifting body wash and stimulate your skin with a brush or good exfoliator. Dress in nice comfortable clothes that you can move around in with ease – something you’d be happy wearing if you bumped into an old friend, and equally comfortable when crouching on the floor playing with the kids.
If you have older kids, waking them ahead of time can allow a more relaxed morning for them too. They have time to wake slowly and find all they need for their day.
Whether you’re at work or at home, try and get a bit of fresh air at lunchtime to take advantage of the natural light. Fresh air will energise your mind and body, and getting some daylight is a natural mood booster and will help you stay positive.
Finally, give yourself an hour in the evening when the kids are in bed. Pour your favourite drink, sit, think and mentally organise the next day. If possible, turn off your phone, unwind, and have a bath with a few candles. Even if it isn’t an hour, just a small piece of time on your own will do wonders for clearing your head.
2) PLAN ahead
Become brilliant at cooking with leftovers or pre-preparing things for the week ahead:
If you or your partner are making pasta or rice for dinner, make sure there’s extra so you can use it for the next day’s lunch. Plain rice can be made into an easy next-day meal with a few veg and an egg for egg-fried rice, mix up cold pasta with tuna and dressing for a simple carby salad.
Preparing a cooked fruit compote for the week and freezing it into old yoghurt pots is a great fuss free way to jazz up your morning porridge. In the summer you can opt for overnight oats soaked in apple juice and served with that big tub of natural yoghurt you bought, and more of that compote you made on Sunday.
It is too easy to slip into dietary bad habits when you’re stressed and tired, so pre-preparing and over cooking from the previous night means you won’t reach for quick and unhealthy food when in a rush.
Another good tip for the evening period is to prepare everything for the next day WITH the kids. Set out everything for the morning; shoes, sports kits etc. Get the kids to pack their own school bags (of course checking them could be a good idea) and have them ready to go by the door.
3) CLEAR the decks
Whatever you do, try not to let things pile up in the house: don’t leave washing up for the next day; don’t let the dirty laundry get out of control or leave clothes in the machine that need folding and putting away; don’t let everyone leave muddy boots on the porch when you come in; don’t leave your car looking like you’re living out of it. Being disciplined about clearing things away AS you use them really does help with your overall frame of mind.
Less physical clutter directly decreases the amount of mental clutter you have. At the very least, make it a habit to take a few minutes at the beginning and end of each day to tidy up your commonly used areas – such as the kitchen, bathroom, office or car. Give every item a home, and it makes this process quick and painless.
Being on top of your life means that when your kid comes home from school and announces they need to bake 25 cookies for the next day’s cake sale, it’s not a 1hr cleaning job beforehand. If there’s no cleaning before doing, it may feel like less of a chore and more fun.
Feeling inspired as we watched the Netflix series ‘Tidying up’ by Marie Kondo – we took a weekend to really get on top of things and haven’t looked back since. It’s a revelation.
4) PRACTICE makes perfect
Making it easy for yourself and your family takes a bit of practice, but it’ll soon become second nature. Some say it takes 21 days to make a habit, so if that’s true, ‘practice’ needs to be a daily dedication.
The general rule is try not to leave anything extra to do to play catch up and never trick yourself into thinking that if you leave it for later, you’ll actually feel like doing it later…. you won’t!
As they say – there is no time like the present. Have a calendar on the wall everyone can see, and perhaps write the plan together so everyone knows where they are, which will also give them some ownership.
Some days we get it right, some days we get it wrong, but taking small steps and following the tips above, you should find yourself feeling more positive and happier throughout winter and beyond. Most importantly forgive yourself if you have days when chaos reigns. Try and relax no matter what the situation. Tomorrow as we say, is a brand new day.