If getting ready for work at your job or as a stay-at-home mom is a stressor for you, I’ve got the perfect plan for you to get ready in 20 minutes
GETting READY for work FASTER IN THE MORNING
Work? What do you mean getting ready for work? I thought you were a stay-at-home mom? Oh, I am a stay-at-home mom, and that is work. It’s my job. I’ve had a corporate job, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 11 years, and now I’m a work-at-home-stay-at-home-run-the-kids-around mom. No matter what kind of job you have, these tips will get you ready in 20 minutes or less.
As I pulled into the garage after dropping the kids off at school, I picked up my phone and saw a calendar notification flashing. “Academic awards ceremony for K 8:45.” Do you know what time it was? 8:43. And the school was 12 minutes away. I slammed my seat belt back in the receiver and drove like Batman to get back to the school before my son walked across the stage at the school assembly. With my toddler in tow, I sprinted into the gymnasium and collapsed into a chair near some moms I knew from my kids’ classes. One of them was dressed in sweatpants, a hat and slippers and she leaned over to whisper in my ear, “I don’t know how you do it, April. You look like a million bucks no matter what time I see you. Why can’t I show up dressed and ready like you do?” My heart was pounding from the adrenaline rush, but I made it in time to see my son receive his award. I didn’t have to worry for one second about how I looked, bu I do need to work on checking my calendar…
Last week I wrote a post about why I get ready every single day, even as a stay-at-home-mom, and they are the same secrets I used when I had a corporate job and was getting ready for work. Even though I didn’t have kids at the time, I did have a well-used snooze button. I promised to share my secrets of how I get ready in only 20 minutes or less in this week’s post. I don’t have a lot of time to spend primping, nor do I have the patience for it. I’ve got things to get done! It’s fun to spend extra time getting ready for special occasions, but those are rarely on weekdays, and usually only a few times a year. With 6 kids I have to get ready faster in the morning, so my daily get-ready routine is 20 minutes or less. I want to look nice, but not spend much time doing it. Since my post last Monday I received a LOT of questions about my routine and how I do it. Not only did I write it all out for you, but I made you a video!
How to get ready in 20 minutes or less
10 TIPS TO GET READY FASTER IN THE MORNING – 20 MINUTES OR LESS
- I shower at night. This is my number one tip. If I say I’m going to take a quick shower, I’m lying. I mean it in the moment, but once I get in that hot water, time loses all meaning. I love taking a leisurely shower, and I can’t do that in the morning. Showering at night is also a great way to decompress and wash away the day. I like to imagine all the stress going down the drain. When I had a gaggle of toddlers/infants (I had triplets + 2 more in 3 years), it was often the only moment of solitude in my entire day. If I shower in the morning, I can get ready in 30 minutes if I’m super disciplined and keep my shower extremely short, WHICH TAKES ALL OF MY WILLPOWER. If I have to wash my hair, make it 45 minutes, depending on how much extra time my hair takes, but really I just slow way down in the shower.
- DON’T LOOK AT YOUR CELL PHONE AT ALL. I can’t emphasize what a time-sucker my cell phone can be. It starts by checking that one text that beeped in, or looking at the weather, and before I know it 10 minutes (or more) have flown by.
- Set a stopwatch or timer to keep you conscious of the time. Play beat the clock. Maybe this feeds into my competitive side, but watching that countdown on my phone keeps me from dawdling or getting distracted. This process can drag on if I don’t stay focused, especially because I’m not a morning person at all. The timer helps me be more alert and aware of my time. You can also turn on some upbeat music or splash your face with cold water to wake yourself up. Whatever you need to jolt yourself into action. Don’t start looking at other things on your phone when you set the timer. It’s the kiss of death.
- Do things in an efficient order. I use Lipsense, and it has to be put on in layers with drying time between. Instead of applying it last and standing there doing nothing while it dries, I put the layers on in between putting on other makeup.
- Choose your clothes, shoes, and accessories the night before and lay them out so you can get dressed in one to two minutes. The Stunning Style Wardrobe Guide – A Curated Seasonal Collection is perfect for making this as easy as possible, even if you wait until the morning.
- I get ready first thing before I leave my bedroom. Once I go out there, the kids assume I’m available, and it is really easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of their needs. If they come into my room looking for assistance, I say, “I can help you as soon as I’m done getting ready.” Unless someone is bleeding, badly hurt, or there is something like broken glass in the kitchen, it can wait. I stop for a screaming baby, but not for a fussing baby. There’s a big difference. Fussing is their version of a toddler’s whining. They want something, but it’s not an emergency. It can usually wait 5 minutes.
- Get up early. I get up at 6:30 to get ready so I’m available to help the kids by 7:00. This is part of the tip not to leave the bedroom until I’m ready. Once I get into the action of the day, I have a hard time getting back to my bedroom to get ready. Other tasks call to me. Trying to get ready while I help them get ready makes everything more frantic, and someone ends up not getting what they need (usually me). This is my time.
- I only wash my hair once or twice a week. If you haven’t discovered dry shampoo, you are missing out. My very most favorite is Living Proof. It is such a great product, and I use it in this video! It is pricy though, so my second favorite is Batiste. I use both. Quality hair products make your hairstyle last more days. I love Living Proof shampoo and conditioner as well. Since I only wash my hair once or twice a week, it lasts me a long time, and that compensates for the cost.
- Since we don’t have early church, I wash my hair on Sunday mornings when I have more time to really style it and apply the products I like for adding texture. Then I can just touch up the next several days. I wash it again on Wednesday nights, if needed, and go ahead and style it with half the products, then add the other two in the morning. I also sleep in that hair net thing you saw in the video. Without it I wake up with my hair sticking straight up, and it takes so much longer to style because I have to get it to lay down first. If you have longer hair and have 1 day a week that you can really put the time into straightening or curling it as you like, you can maximize those leftovers. Merrick at Merricksart.com wrote a great post about doing that with longer hair.
- I keep all my get-ready stuff in a basket that I pull out from under the sink. No digging or searching for things. It’s easy to pull out and easy to put away, and it saves me a lot of time. It also makes it easy to keep my bathroom counters clear. I have another basket with stuff I use occasionally. This basket is stuff I use most often. This is what it really looks like. I didn’t straighten it at all for you.
HOW I DO IT
This is my exact get ready routine to get ready faster:
The night before:
- Moisturize my face
- Deodorant. An extra benefit of this is the deodorant has time to soak in and I don’t get streaks on my clothes the next morning.
- Dry and style my hair if I wash it mid-week, or if I was working in the yard and have wood chips, leaves or rocks in my hair (it happens a lot in the warm months). Why can’t it be flowers stuck in my hair?
- Brush teeth
- Put my clothes, shoes, accessories on. Since I showered the night before, I can get my clothes on immediately in about one minute. It takes the same amount of time to put on real clothes as yoga pants.
- Brush my teeth.
- Apply foundation.
- Put on eyeshadow primer (it needs a few minutes to set up before I apply eyeshadow or the eyeshadow will not blend)
- Clean lips with witch hazel to prep for Lipsense
- Put on first layer of Lipsense
- Second layer of Lipsense
- Eyeshadow, waterproof eyeliner, mascara (if I need to shave time off my routine, I cut out eyeshadow and primer first, then eyeliner second)
- Final layer of Lipsense
- Apply dry shampoo if needed. Brush my hair and spot straighten as needed. I have naturally curly hair, and always have some crazy spots in the morning.
- Apply gloss layer of Lipsense
I know not everyone likes to do things in the same order every day, but that is how I can be efficient with my time. I’m all about structure and routine to be efficient. I do makeup before hair because with my bangs I’m going to be pushing them up to do my eye makeup and mess them up.
ALL THE QUESTIONS
How early do you get up to exercise?
I get up at 6:00 to exercise three days a week. I won’t do any exercise that lasts more than 30 minutes, including warm up and cool down because I will talk myself out of it. I prep for this the night before as well. I make my protein drink and put it in an insulated thermos and leave it on my bathroom counter, set out my workout clothes and shoes, and set up my exercise DVD before I go to bed. I realized a while ago I was wasting 30 minutes or more getting ready for my workout because I’m so groggy, and it should take me no more than 5.
Don’t you need another shower after you exercise? What if I’m covered in breast milk because I leaked all night? What if I have night sweats?
I like to exercise in the morning. To be honest, I’m not a sweaty person. After a short, intense workout, I’m hot and happy to take a short shower in tepid water, so I’m not tempted to stay. I’m feeling pumped and ready to tackle the day too, so I shower in 3 minutes. I still take a shower the night before because that is when I wash my face, moisturize, shave, exfoliate, and all those other things that can make a shower take so long. This is just a quick rub down with the soap to get the sweat/breastmilk off and be fresh again. If you do more intense workouts and have sweaty hair when you are done, see Merrick’s tips for that.
What time do you go to bed?
Anywhere from 9:00 (If I’m super exhausted) to 10:30, which is my usual time.
Do you ever wear loungewear?
I do. After the kids are in bed and I’m done for the day I put on something more comfortable. That is my signal to my body and brain that we are finished working. I also wear it after church on Sundays because we chill after church. I have cute loungewear, though, and I’m not embarrassed to answer the door in it. Plus my hair and makeup are done, so I look much, much better (as seen in the video).
Cute and comfortable loungewear. Striped joggers, a comfortable, vibrant tee, and a cardigan with my moccasin slippers.
What if I don’t have 20 minutes all in a row to get ready?
It happens. I oversleep or I wake up to a kid who has had an accident or an overflowing toilet or all the other exciting things moms wake up to (a.k.a. disasters). There are days when I have to do my 20-minute get-ready routine in pieces. First: I put on clothes before I leave my bedroom. No matter what. It takes 30 seconds to pull on some jeans and a tee. All t-shirts go with blue jeans. Just grab one of each. No thinking required, and you immediately look and feel better than if you were wearing pajamas or loungewear. Second opportunity: I do something about my hair, because with short hair there is no merciful ponytail, and I wake up looking C-R-A-Z-Y if I don’t wear my head scarf. I can make a big improvement in 30 seconds with a comb and dry shampoo. Third opportunity: I do eyebrows and lips at a minimum. More if I can. If I need/have a fourth opportunity I will add some mascara and accessories.
Think about the 2- to 5-minute increments you waste on your phone. You do have time if you look at where you are losing time. The kids are eating, run and put on some mascara. I don’t let my kids watch much TV, but if you have to put on an episode of Sophia the First or Thomas so you can get dressed, it’s worth it. And actually, if your child is 12 months or older, I love the Preschool Prep videos (DVDs here and digital download version here). Mind-numbing to an adult, but kids are engrossed. It’s educational, so it’s an exception to my no-TV-during-the-week rule. I can’t believe how quickly my kids learned their letters, shapes, colors, numbers, sight words, etc., from these videos. They are fabulous.
My husband travels a lot for work, so I base my daily routines on the fact that he won’t be here. That way I always have a plan to do what needs to be done. If he is in town, he will run interference if a disaster strikes, or I need a couple more minutes or if I want to do a little more with my makeup or hair.
What if my kids are sick?
If I have sick kids and I’ll be cleaning up vomit or wiping noses all day, I choose different clothes than on a day I’m going out, but I still wear real clothes. A button up flannel or cute tee and jeans are all washable, comfortable, and still perfect for being puked on or answering the door or running to the store for more apples, bananas, crackers and Sprite. You can see more about what I wore the week I had 3 days of lap duty with my vomiting 3-year-old. She did actually vomit all over me on day one, approximately 30 seconds after I took the adorable picture of her sleeping in my arms below. I took it all off and put it straight in the washer and put on something else just as comfortable and washable. If I am the one vomiting, I stick to (cute) lounge wear and my bed/couch/bathroom floor because I’m D-Y-I-N-G.
What about cleaning? I don’t want to ruin my clothes.
When I’m cleaning or cooking I wear an apron. Find a cute one that you like!! Also, all of my clothes are washable, so if something does get on them, it will usually wash out. The one exception is cleaning bathtubs and showers because I get soaking wet when I do those (if you don’t, please share your tips). I will do one or two right before my shower at night, but that’s not every night.
I can’t do my whole get ready routine in 20 minutes!
Don’t get sucked into the all or nothing mentality when it comes to getting ready. It doesn’t have to be a choice between ready to attend the Oscars and nothing. There are so many degrees of in between, and they are all better than the nothing look. Putting on your clothes is the first and fastest step, and it makes the biggest impact. It will also trigger you to want to complete the process. Think about the 20% of your get-ready routine that makes 80% of an impact. Clothes are the first 40% of impact and it takes 2 minutes at most! ANYTHING you do with your makeup and hair is better than nothing. Prioritize which items will make the biggest impact in the shortest time. For me it’s eyebrows and lips, then mascara. Some days you will be able to do more, and that’s great. On the days you need to do less, you are still presentable.
We all have our best makeup and hairstyles that take a lot more time, but those usually aren’t the ones we can do everyday as a stay-at-home mom or a busy working woman. Whether you are a habitual snooze button abuser, or your mornings are hectic because of little ones, we all need a faster routine for getting ready for work. Find easier, faster hairstyles for normal days. Dry shampoo, headbands, hats, clips, scarves and ponytails can be a great way to extend another day or two without washing your hair. There are so many ways to make a cute ponytail instead of the, “I give up” ponytail. Sleek and low, high pony, side pony, middle part, pompadour, headband and a ponytail, topsy tail (oh yes, they are still around, and I have one!), braids, etc. I used to have long hair, and I used all these tricks for the additional days I didn’t want to wash my hair.
What if I’m going to be doing something dirty and gross that day? Do I still get ready?
I love to work in my yard and gardens. I mean, really, really dirty work. I still get ready for the day, just on a smaller scale. I wear my yard work clothes and shoes. I put on foundation (bc mine has SPF 50 in it and doesn’t sting my eyes like sunscreen does), eyebrows, mascara and lips. And I brush my hair, but don’t necessarily worry about making it perfect. Sometimes I wear a hat. Even if I’m dirty, I don’t look like a zombie that just dug herself out of a fresh grave. I can run to the nursery or Home Depot, and people can clearly see that I’ve been shoveling mulch, but my face looks nice. And honestly, I just FEEL better. Plus, neighbors seem to stop and say hi when I’m outside, and it’s nice to not look horrible for that.
How can I be cute in just a t-shirt and jeans?
I’m not talking about your stretched out, oversized, stained t-shirt from college or the one you paint in with mom jeans. I’m talking about cute t-shirts and flattering jeans. You can get them on any price level. They can be anywhere from a dollar at the thrift store to $200 at Nordstrom. They don’t have to be expensive to be cute. My favorites tees are from Banana Republic and J. Crew, but I’ve had cute ones from Target, too. Get tees that are a flattering fit, meaning not skin tight. I like mine fitted, but with some room in the waist area so you can see my figure, but you can’t see the outline of my last meal through it. If we can see your belly button, it’s too tight. I also love button ups and sweaters. It all depends on the weather. My favorite jeans are Express for both comfort and a flattering fit. Add a cute pair of flats or sandals and throw on a necklace or earrings, and you look great! If you want to take it to the next level, add a cardigan or jacket for that extra oomph.
Do I look fancy? I kind of do. But I’m not. Picture #1: Sweater and jeans. Picture #2: t-shirt and cords. Picture #3: Button up and jeans. Picture #4: t-shirt and shorts. Picture #5: simple t-shirt and jeans. Picture #6: t-shirt and jeans. All stretchy. All comfortable. All as easy to throw on as yoga pants. All very presentable. I would stop at the school, run errands, walk into my husband’s office or answer my door for Ed McMahon in any of these outfits.
But, but, but…
But stop. There are a million variables and reasons why you CAN’T do this, and if you don’t want to, that’s ok. If you do WANT to do this, I’m here to help! Use the tips that are helpful to you, give it a try, and do as much as you can. You don’t have be a street-style icon everyday. This is about looking nice, at the very least looking better than you did when you woke up, and feeling human! It will take practice and effort at first to get your own routine down, but it will pay off. First step, put on your clothes! The rest is icing.
Did I answer all of your questions? Are you going to try this? Do you have any tips to get ready faster in the morning? Share your success. Or failure. We can laugh together, and then you can try again!
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