13 Time-Wasting Mistakes You’re Making Every Morning (& How to Stop)


Mornings around our house are typically lovely and relaxing. The niños and I will snuggle and read and have a great time while I think about how lucky I am to be a mama until the cold hard reality that we have snuggled for far too long hits and now we are totally late and, OMG, what is wrong with everyone and why can’t all of you people hurry up and why is being a mama always so hard? Like I said, lovely and relaxing…

I have to think I’m not the only mama out there who makes tiny mistakes while trying to get out the door that add up to a frantic race against the clock. In fact, based on the harried expressions of the other parents at our preschool, I know I’m not. So, in the hope of holding onto a touch of that morning paz y tranquilidad, I’ve put together thirteen mistakes moms make when trying to get out the door and ways you can fix them.

1. Using too many products

One of my amigas has the most mind-boggling (to me) makeup set-up. She has a cup that holds the brushes and products she uses on a daily basis and that’s it. There aren’t years worth of blush she has to sort through or fake eyelash sets with only one eyelash left—it’s simply the products she needs and uses, all ready to go. Brilliant, right?

The Fix: Look at the products you actually use on a daily basis and put them together in an easy-to-use container. Everything else can be rotated in, used on weekends, or, let’s be honest, most likely thrown away. 

2. Losing your purse, keys, phone

I feel like misplacing your things must be a genetic thing. No matter how hard I try I’m never completely certain where my phone, purse, and keys are at any one moment, and I actually work at it. If I could get back all the time we’ve all run around looking for them, I would probably be back in my twenties. Looking for my keys, most likely, but back in my twenties.

The Fix: Always keep them in the same place. For example, have a bowl by the front door for your keys, always hang your purse in the front closet, and try to only have two locations in your house for your phone—say, at the charger and by the microwave. Or, if all else fails, get to know your Find My Phone app really well.

3. Making lunches in the morning

I’m not telling you gals anything new—making lunches in the morning is a recipe for chaos. I used to only make lunches in the morning while I was feeding, dressing, and corralling my kids, which is why my daughter once took cold spaghetti for lunch and a spoon to eat it with. 

The Fix: Make lunches at night. I promise, it is so much better. 

4. Debating what to wear

Mamas, can we all agree that trying to decide what you’re going to wear in the morning is a TERRIBLE IDEA? Nothing ever fits properly, the right tank top is always in the wash, and, before you know it, you’re racing out the door in too small pants and a shirt that’s missing a button (not that I know anything about any of this).

The Fix: Take a few minutes the night before to lay out what you’re going to wear the next day down to the shoes and accessories. You’ll probably find you wear a lot more of your wardrobe, as well. 

5. Waking up too late

I know the last thing you want to hear when you’re pushed for time is to slow down, but we all probably need to do exactly that. Waking up with the mentality that you’re already behind leads to a hectic feeling that is hard to shake.

The Fix: Set the alarm for five minutes earlier and give yourself a little breathing room. Use the time to meditate if you’re feeling really motivated, or just take your time getting out of bed. This small shift to “more than enough time” can bleed over into all parts of your life.

6. Hustling your kids out the door

It’s a law of the universe that the more you hustle a niño, the slower he moves, which means you have to hustle him even more, which leads to even slower movements and more admonishments to “Get moving!” and typically ends with a complete meltdown on the kitchen floor. By all parties.

The Fix: More time. And by that I mean your kids just need to grow up and out of it. Or move out of the house. I genuinely think it doesn’t matter how much time I leave my kids, they will always find something more interesting to do than get ready for the day, so we’re always going to be hustling. 

7. Trying to squeeze one more thing in

I’m the absolute queen of this one. Ever the optimist, I’m forever certain I can get one more load of laundry in, get the table cleared off, put my wedding photos in an album finally, all before we need to get out the door. It never works, and it always makes me late. 

The FIx: Set a firm time you need to be walking out the door (I always make ours five minutes before we actually do) and then stick to it. Leave whatever project you’re working on (I promise the laundry will still be there when you get home) and walk out the door, however painful it may be. 

8. Letting your kids wake you up

It is tempting to sleep until the very last minute (and I do it more than I’d like to admit), but letting someone else dictate when you wake, especially someone with lots of immediate needs, can start your day off on someone else’s agenda and make it hard to get back on track. 

The Fix: All sorts of experts say it’s better to wake up at the same time every day—it stabilizes your body clock, it establishes a routine, and it is possibly tied to increased productivity. Set your alarm a little before when you know the kids will be up, and give yourself an extra few minutes to ease into your day. 

9. Letting your car get low on gas 

There is nothing worse than finally making it out of the house and realizing you don’t have enough gas to get the kids to school or yourself to work. 

The Fix: Never let your tank go below half (I am training myself to see half as the new empty). You have to go to the gas station a bit more, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind.

10. Not mapping out your morning the night before

Mornings have a way of slipping by quickly, which means remembering today is Día de San Valentín and you need 23 cards for a preschool class can put you over the edge (again, I wouldn’t know anything about this). 

The Fix: Take a few minutes the night before to get your next day ready. Get out any forms the kids may need, put items for errands by the door, fill water bottles, buy Valentine’s cards—basically, take as many variables as you can out of the next morning. 

11. Skipping breakfast

I know, I know. We all have done it and probably more recently than we’d like to admit, but skipping breakfast means you’re really hungry by mid-morning and, for me, that looks like little willpower and lots of pan dulce.

The Fix: Plan ahead and have options that are easy to grab and go—fruit and yogurt, smoothies, homemade granola bars, or even a PB&J. 

12. Veering off the routine 

My kids do really well when they know what’s coming, which is why they do really well at bedtime. They have the routine down pat—get changed, brush teeth, read books, sing one song, lights out—and there’s very little arguing because there aren’t any questions as to what’s coming. For some reason, I never thought about this for mornings and would do things in a different order each day and then wonder why they couldn’t get the hang of it. 

The Fix: Create a routine and do your best to stick to it. We try and do everything in the same order every day—eat breakfast, get changed, brush hair then teeth, put on shoes, wait by the door for Mommy while she races around like a crazy person, remind her to bring a coat, go out the door. It relieves a lot of the drama.

13. Arguing with your kids about what to wear

There are a lot of things I have let go of in my life—the quest for a flat stomach, the ability to wear heels all day, and also worrying about how my kids dress. When they were really little I had them looking like extras in an Anthropologie catalog; now, they look like walking billboards for Disney with a side of inventive dressing thrown in (my daughter likes to match her stripes to stripes, which can be slightly jarring at first glance). 

The Fix: Let it go. My kids feel great about the way they look when they pick out their own clothes, and we minimize the time it takes them to get ready. I’d call that a win-win. 

Photo: Jon Feingersh / Blend Images / Getty