Mornings would be so great if they didn't involve actually getting out of bed. Amiright, people? Who's with me?
If the proper background music for your average morning would be less Zen chant and more "Flight of the Bumblebee," you're not alone. A 2013 Pew Research Center study has found that over half of working parents find it difficult to balance their daily responsibilities. The number-one complaint? "Always feeling rushed."
Considering that 60 percent of today's two-parent households have both parents working, is it any surprise that the morning "rush hour" is exceptionally crazed? Mom, dad and the kids are all jockeying to get ready at the same time. And many singles greet their mornings with groans instead of grins, too.
Fortunately, there are researchers out there who -- get this -- actually study ways for us to eliminate morning madness. "Research has shown that when people feel a sense of control over their time, they actively try to shape their environment by looking for ways to manage their time more effectively," says Steve Jex, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Bowling Green University in Ohio. "When the home environment is neat and organized, people spend much less time preparing, and this amounts to typically experiencing lower levels of stress."
Read on to discover three ways to make getting out the door in the a.m. a little bit easier. They might just make getting out of bed suck a little bit less.
Shave precious minutes off your morning to-do list by making lunches the night before, using leftovers from dinner.
To be fair, a little preplanning is required. For one thing, some types of dishes will hold up better the next day than others (think a slice of quiche or lasagna vs. a sloppy joe). You'll also have to prepare a larger quantity of your evening meal so you'll have enough extra to dish out into individual luncheon containers before going to bed.
Still, this habit will free up some kitchen time in the morning. "Take advantage of the opportunities to save time that exist around you," says Jex. "Although it takes some adjustment at first, in the long run it's more efficient."
Work some of your morning rituals into your bedtime routine. If you live alone, lay out your clothes for the next day. If your household's larger, have the busiest member of the family take her shower before going to sleep. (What do you mean by "her," you ask? According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics American Time Use Survey, women spend more hours than men on household duties and helping and caring for family members.) Shortening one person's bathroom time will make getting ready easier for everyone come morning.
Done cleaning up from dinner? Involve the entire family in setting up the next morning's breakfast, from filling up the coffee machine to putting out cereal, bowls and mugs. You can facilitate this process by dishing out a few crafty compliments, says Thomas Bradbury, Ph.D., professor of psychology at UCLA. "Most of us are willing to do something if we sense that the division of labor is fair and that our efforts are noticed," he says. "Clearing the dinner table should be the cue for everyone that it's time to set the table for breakfast. Then, seeing everyone accomplish some small but important task should be your cue to acknowledge it. It just may make each member step up his or her game."