Mastering the morning rush is like learning to cook eggs. Almost anyone can do the scramble, but with a little forethought, you can remove the words ‘hard’ and ‘tough’ from your a.m. vocabulary, and replace with them with ‘easy’…maybe even ‘over easy’.
Here’s how to make like a diner chef and serve those mornings up fast and simple:
It is a well-known law of family physics that the time it takes to complete any given task is multiplied tenfold once young kids are added to the equation. As much as you want – and deserve – to curl up on the couch at night and enjoy some kid-free downtime, taking 10 or 15 minutes to prep while the little ones are asleep will have exponentially positive effects on your morning. An efficient cook spends a little time each day on food prep for the following morning, and if you take the time at night to prepare lunches or assemble breakfast food, you will be rewarded with smoother mornings. Other tasks that are easily prepped the night before: laying out clothes and packing backpacks, briefcases and purses. If you have older children, let them do their own prep so you can hit the couch sooner.
Like laying out the clothes and making lunches the night before, batch cooking on the weekends makes a huge difference in the week to come. It’s up to you how much effort to apply, but a professional chef knows that once you’ve got the kitchen tools out, it takes less overall effort to prep several things at once. Wash and chop fruits and veggies for snacks and meals, fill the crockpot with a soup, sauce or stew, and throw some meat or fish in the oven. Store extra portions in the freezer as backup for those weeks when you really need them.
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Create a routine
In a well-run restaurant kitchen, every employee knows their job, and gets right to it. The same goes for an efficient household. Most families will fall into some kind of natural pattern based on members’ schedules, likes, dislikes and abilities. But you can make your household routines even more sensible with just a little planning. Sit down with your family and discuss all the tasks that need to be accomplished, create a prioritized list, and determine in advance who does what. Eliminating the need for pesky morning questions (“Has anyone fed the dog?,” “Whose turn is it to do the dishes?”) will leave more time for the questions that really matter, like “How are you doing?” and “Ready to go?”
Take a breather
It’s easy to say and hard to do, but taking five minutes to yourself each morning will make you a better commander-in-chef. As nice as it would be if you could spend those five minutes stretching or meditating, that isn’t always possible. But you can combine deep breaths and mindfulness with other tasks, so don’t hesitate to close the bathroom door and take some alone time observing your breath while you brush your teeth, apply makeup (PS – are you wearing too much make up?) or style your hair. Hint: mixing moisturizer with foundation will allow you to slap your base coat on like lotion, and showering the night before and braiding towel-dried hair will create a salon-worthy wave that cuts blow-drying time out completely.
When the eggs are broken, eat something else
The diner chef analogy is handy most of the time, but when things get crazy, ditch it. Ovens break, diapers explode, keys disappear. So if you’re having a crazy morning, be thankful that you can employ some simple breakfast solutions that a diner chef can’t: cereal, toast and toaster waffles.
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