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The New Year brings so many fresh starts and plans for new ideas. Historically, I haven’t been much of a resolution setter.
Last year, I created a manifesto of sorts for myself to keep in mind certain principles by which I hoped to lived. Truth be told, like most “resolutions,’ I could have done better. But I certainly didn’t fail on every front.
I also still like all the elements of my manifesto and intend to carry them over into 2016 in the quest for continuous self-improvement.
The change of heart to set a manifesto (after being anything but a resolution maker) came about, in part, as a result of actually accomplishing a goal I set for 2014 to spend more time reading. That 2014 goal revived my connection with reading, and I’ve buried my nose in far more books in the last two years than I even picked up in the preceding decade.
Accomplishing such a goal also led to me creating my List of 100 Dreams and a 2015 Twelve Dates of Christmas goal for M and I to share. I’m still working on my List of Dreams, which will be a life-long work in progress. And M and I did some of our twelve dates. While we didn’t accomplish all of them, we’ve made creating time for dates and hiring babysitters a part of our routine, thus accomplishing the main objective of the goal. I consider that a win.
This year, while still keeping in mind the principles of my 2015 Manifesto, I’ve decided to approach 2016 with a motto instead of a resolution. My motto for the year: Less is More.
This is going to be very difficult for me. I have lots of passions and interests in life. While I don’t intend to sacrifice my family or my personal well-being in pursuit of those interests, there’s just not time in the day for all of them. Sometimes, sleep looses out. But I’d really like to decrease the frequency of late nights spent typing away on my computer.
Despite much reflection, I’m still pondering the best ways to apply this motto to my life. However, I know it’s important and the right approach for now.
One way I hope to make this motto a guide for my life is to see less stress on busy weekday mornings bring more happiness and ease to our morning routine. For those of you trying to rush out of the door with little ones in tow, I suspect you know how difficult this can be.
About six months ago, I transitioned to a new job within my company. My new role allows more flexibility to work from home and to start my day a bit later, which has contributed to less stressful mornings. We’ve also tried a few other strategies, like the following, to make our mornings more calm.
Wake Up Before the Kids ~ Some mornings, M and I get really ambitious and try to sneak in a workout together before our boys wake up. Remember when I shared some great ideas about making early mornings work for you?
Even when we’re not hopping out of bed an hour before our boys, it’s still so helpful to be up a few minutes before them. It’s nice to have a few minutes to get dressed, wake my mind, stretch a bit, or just mentally prepare for the onslaught of toddler tornado energy about to hit our day.
While sometimes I use that time to make breakfast or do something directly productive toward getting ready for the day, I also occasionally spend those quiet morning moments doing a few yoga stretches. If you’re interested but aren’t sure where to start or don’t think yoga is for you, consider these 7 ideas to guide even the “newbiest” of newbies on the mat.
Further, I’ve recently been quite intrigued by the whole ‘meditative adult coloring book’ trend and might take my few morning minutes to reflect while hanging out with my new colored pencils. Several articles, like this one from Healthy Living Made Simple Magazine, tout the therapeutic benefits of coloring. That definitely seems like an option to reduce morning stresses. (I even picked up coloring books and colored pencils for all my sisters as holiday gifts to put all the hype to the test. We’ll see how it goes. I have a good feeling about this.)
Gummy Vitamins ~ My boys LOVE gummy vitamins. They seem to think they’re basically candy. We stock up on their favorite gummy vitamins while at the Sam’s Club pharmacy. The Sam’s Club pharmacy offers health screenings and a whole host of over-the-counter medications, which is super convenient.
It’s pretty crazy how popping a couple gummy vitamins for our boys can turn a rough morning into morning glory. Neither of our boys think highly of early mornings. At 3 and 1 and half, they’ve already taken on sleeping habits of teenagers. So kick-starting the morning with a quick vitamin treat (bribery at its best) can really get our day started on the right foot.
Breakfast Prepared in Advance ~ Much like most of our meals, I do most of the cooking and food preparation over the weekend. For breakfast, we’re big fans of pre-made, crustless quiches. Options like steel cut oats are great as well. Both can easily be made on Sunday afternoon and warmed up in the microwave throughout the week for healthy breakfasts that don’t demand a lot of preparation time during the morning.
Clothes Picked Out and Bag Packed the Night Before ~ Although this might be standard fare, it’s such a game-changer that it’s always worth mentioning. Packing up my bag the night before under less stress and without a race against the clock often helps ensure I don’t forget anything. And I can’t explain how frustrated I get with myself when I’m trying to get out the door and I can’t decide what to wear. Having an outfit planned to throw on while I’m half asleep in the morning is a no-brainer, right?
Simplified Makeup Routine ~ I’ve never been one to spend hours on end primping in the bathroom and layering on makeup before walking out my door. But I recently cut down my make up routine to just one set of the same colors I wear every day. I used to have a few different options, but I ditched the additional choices and haven’t looked back. I know it seems like a small change, but it eliminates of a few of the little decisions I have to make throughout the morning and continues to put more pieces of my morning routine on auto-pilot.
I suspect many of you have lots of ideas about how to make busy mornings a bit easier. If you have ideas that work well for you, certainly share in the comments. We’d all love to hear them.
As I roll into 2016, I’m hoping to make our mornings (and our days, weeks, and months) easier by focusing on Less is More. Cramming less into a busy morning brings more peace and simplicity. Making fewer commitments and promises of our time and our resources hopefully will help us strike a calmer balance in our lives.
What are your plans for 2016? What’s your manifesto or resolution or motto for the year, if you made one?
P.S. While donuts aren’t exactly the healthiest food on the market nor are they quick and simple, they are delicious and indulgent and perfect for a ‘less-stress’ lazy Christmas morning. Pumpkin also has it’s fair share of nutritional benefits (which I’m using to convince myself that the health benefits of pumpkin offset that I’m eating donuts…)
To amp up our Christmas morning, I made my whole family (two parents, five daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandkids) fresh, homemade pumpkin donuts. Reminded of the health benefits of pumpkin and it’s perfect place in any holiday menu, I decided it would make a great accompaniment to the short-order breakfast feast my mom makes each Christmas. Spoiler Alert: They were devoured. And they are best fresh out of the oven just after being covered in cinnamon and sugar. I think we might have to make these a new holiday tradition!