I paid my way through college by working 20 hours a week, in addition to a full course load. My Freshman year, I was assigned the kitchen. At the time, food service appeared to be my lot in life. I’d previously waitressed at a family restaurant and volunteered in the kitchen at a summer camp. I never really minded kitchen duty, until I ended up with early morning shifts. Nothing woke me faster than a walk-in freezer at 5:30am, and a dishwashing machine that spewed out showers in between clean plates. Despite my best attempts with a plastic apron, I still went to my 9 o’clock class utterly embarrassed that my t-shirt was soaked, smelling like food, while I sat next to the cutest guy there simply because seating was alphabetical.
I am rather grumpy in the morning, no matter how much sleep I get, or how clean my shirt is. My mom actually used to call me ‘Gruesome.’ She knew what a monster I was upon waking. Spoiler alert…I’m clearly not a morning person.
Life doesn’t always favor us night owls though. We all have stuff that gets us out of bed at an early hour, whether it’s a child, job, flight to catch, or noisy neighbors. I’ve had to make some adjustments in my approach to the morning. These might not be great revelations to you, but adding a thing or two to your evening routine might help to make your mornings a little less bearish, and frankly, more bearable.
In the evening:
— Get your work done. I work best under a deadline, but if that deadline is 8am, I’m going to have it done before I actually get in bed. No matter how hard I tried at college, I couldn’t muster up the strength to get up any earlier than absolutely necessary to study for an exam or finish my homework. I was never late to that kitchen shift, but my body resented getting up earlier than humanly necessary on the days I didn’t work. My brain just didn’t switch on as well in the morning.
— Choose an outfit. Whether it’s your mom uniform of leggings and a hoodie, or a suit for work — hang or lay it somewhere separate and accessible. While you’re at it, find the right lingerie for the job and your socks and shoes, and keep it all together.
— Lay out the dishes for breakfast. I was at a friend’s house one evening as a schoolgirl, and I noticed her mother putting out bowls and spoons and boxes of cereal on the table. This fascinated me. She said it was simply one less thing they had to do in the morning, while they were all scrambling to get to school. While we are here — actually do the dishes from that day. Nothing kills my will to cook breakfast faster than a sink full of dirty dishes from the previous night’s dinner. (Maybe it’s the obscene amount of dishes I washed early in the morning at college that has now scarred me for life.)
— Get the coffee ready to go. I have a fancy espresso maker, but it needs to be coddled. Water must be filled, beans ready in the hopper, all of the buttons set to precision, etc. Unless you have a Keurig (and is that REALLY coffee??) then chances are, you need to be your own morning barista and do a little java prep. The less I have to do in the morning to get that first cup of joe, the better.
— Pack all of the lunches for the next day and fill up your water bottles.
— Prep food for the next day. If you’re a crock-pot dinner person, then chop and mix and prep the night before, so all you have to do is dump it in and turn it on, as you walk out the door the next morning.
— Put everything you need to take with you next to the door, so it’s there when you want to leave: the kids’ school bags, library books to return, gym clothes, donations to the thrift store.
— Update your to-do list. Whether you’re a paper planner person or digital diva, double check what items are most urgent for the next day and focus on those. I usually have to write myself a ‘DO FIRST THING TODAY’ message to myself for the next morning.
In the morning:
— Make your bed — you will start the day off right by accomplishing this one thing. Having made my bed daily for my entire life, I’m not about to quit this one.
— Shower. You may be an evening bather, and that’s totally fine, however, a quick shower in the morning usually wakes me up faster than anything.
— Allow yourself extra time to ease into the day, if that’s what you need. Part of my non-morning person schtick is that I’m truly an introvert and I need a few extra minutes to enjoy my coffee in peace before I actually jump into my day.
— Have a routine that you look forward to whether it’s brewing a cup of coffee while it’s still dark, reading a devotional or writing in your journal, it’s helpful to have something to look forward to when you climb out of bed.
— If you work from home or aren’t going out that day, make an effort to still get dressed. I enjoy a lazy morning in my pjs and bathrobe (in fact, I typed most of this out in full pajama wear), but I have a tendency to stretch the morning out until the afternoon, if I’m not careful. Maybe save those lazy mornings for the weekend. Get dressed, even if you’ve got nowhere to go. You will feel a little less gruesome, if you do.