7 ways to simplify your morning routine
By Lesley Kennedy
Now that school is in full swing, getting everyone up, dressed, fed, packed and out the door on time can feel like a full-time job in and of itself.
Sure, you could listen to all those time management experts out there who tell you to rise extra early, so you can exercise, shower, dress, coif, read the headlines and caffeinate before turning into the mean ol’ mom dragging her kids out of bed. But setting the alarm for 5 a.m.? Isn’t the morning rush painful enough?
And to those parents who pack lunches the night before, have clothing laid out and ironed in advance and feel wide awake without the need of an IV coffee drip, well, we salute you. But, for our sleepy sisters and bed-loving brothers, we have a few tips to help make your a.m. routine as painless as possible — and without the ungodly wakeup call.
— EXERCISE SMARTER. As any working parent will tell you, if you don’t get that workout in first thing, it ain’t happening. The boss calls a meeting at lunch, there’s soccer carpool after school and there’s football watching/bill paying/homework checking/dinner preparation happening tonight. But you don’t need to log an hour-long run to make a difference. Try a HIIT — that stands for High Intensity Interval Training — workout, instead.
“HIIT training is short bursts of exercise done in 20 to 40 second intervals,” says Anne Parker, a Denver-based personal trainer and busy mom. (www.the-workout-coach.com/anne-parker.html) “People need to think about being more effective and more efficient with their workouts, so it’s quality over quantity.”
She says a program like Focus T25 ( http://bit.ly/1018Pw3 ), where you complete intense intervals, but for just 25 minutes, encourages Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC, which is “a fancy way of saying that when you do HIIT, you’re going to burn more calories at rest for an additional 24 to 36 hours after your workout. It’s like lighter fluid for your metabolism.”
There are plenty of apps, YouTube videos and DVD programs to try, but Parker says if you do burpees for 20 seconds, rest for 20 seconds and repeat eight times, you’ll be burning calories with the best of ‘em.
— SKIP YOUR STARBUCKS RUN. Even if the barista puts in your daily order of a vente half-caf no whip mocha the minute she sees you step in the shop, you’re spending valuable time (not to mention an awful lot of money) each morning. Brew your own java at home or, if you’re really rushed, know that instant coffee has come a long way. Our new addiction? Pronto! Liquid Coffee Brewsticks ( www.barniespronto.com ). This genius invention comes in single-serve packaging, so you just pour it into hot or cold water, stir it up and you’re good to go. A six-pack of Southern Pecan, Hawaiian Hazelnut, French Roast or other flavors is $5.99 – seconds of your time and a fraction of the cost you’ll spend at your favorite chain.
— MAKE BREAKFAST EASIER. French toast, bacon and homemade waffles are great on the weekends, but Monday through Friday you need something fast that’s also nutritious. Go ahead and feed the kids scrambled eggs and toast and snag your morning meal as you run out the door. Parker’s new go-to breakfast is simple refrigerator oats you can whip up the night before. “In a ½ pint mason jar, mix up ¼ cup oats, 1/3 cup milk, ¼ cup Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons maple syrup and fill the rest of the jar up with blueberries or the fruit of your choice. Then just leave it overnight, and it’s so easy, you can even eat in the car.”
At 215 calories and 12 grams of fat, she says it’s not only tasty, but filling, too. “I would eat oatmeal before, and it wouldn’t make me full,” Parker says, “but adding in the protein does the trick.”
Find more refrigerator oats recipes here: www.theyummylife.com/Refrigerator_Oatmeal
— MULTI-TASK YOUR HAIR ROUTINE. If you wash your hair in the morning (and, after that HIIT routine, you’re probably gonna want to), and you’re like us, half the time you race out the door with wet hair you hope will air dry before you enter the office and the other half you blow-dry it as much as possible and stick it back in a ponytail or bun. Dry it or curl it — but both? Forget it. Well, meet the Air Curler, $14.99, plus shipping and handling, at www.aircurler.com . We tested this As Seen on TV product that looks a little silly — you attach a plastic cup to your hair dryer — but really does deliver. Sounds crazy, but you just stick a section of hair (we found dry roots with damp ends works best) in the cup, turn on your dryer and your hair is spun into a natural-looking curl. Then finger comb or brush it out. So long, ponytail.
— MULTI-TASK YOUR MAKEUP, TOO. If you’re spending time applying sunscreen, then moisturizer, then foundation, then concealer, you’re wasting time. Go with a BB (that stands for beauty balm) or CC (color correcting) cream that combine a tinted moisturizer, primer, sunscreen, anti-aging serums and more in one product.
“Especially in drier climates, they’re perfect because you don’t even need to add powder on top,” says Sara Brentano, a skin care specialist and co-owner of Berencies salon in Denver. “A BB cream is a great all-in-one product for younger skin or skin without issues, that doesn’t need much evening out. A CC cream is more amped up, so it’s great for women looking for anti-aging ingredients or who may have age spots they want to lighten up.”
Brentano says a bright blush on the apple of the cheek and a glossy lip can also make a fast, yet noticeable, difference.
She says a pop of pink blush will brighten skin with yellowish undertones, while a peachy or apricot blush will warm your skin if it’s lighter. Just apply it on the outer apple and blend it up toward the top of the ear.
— THEN GRAB THE GLOSS. “Even if it’s a clear shine, it tricks the eye,” Brentano says.
“I would say 85 percent of my clients don’t wear makeup every day, but they do get their eyebrows done and their lashes tinted, so they look pulled together,” she says. “Those things may sound high maintenance, but they actually save you so much time — both in applying and taking it off. If you do a BB cream, blush, gloss and have your brows and lashes done, you will look like you have full-on makeup on in minutes.”
— SAVE ON SHAVING TIME. Besides their crazy price tags, razors — and leg shaving — can eat up serious shower minutes. Cut out the process by going with an epilator, instead. We tried the Philips Satin Perfect, $99.99 at www.usa.philips.com , an at-home device that yanks your hair out at the root, leaving your legs smooth for weeks. Now, we’re not gonna lie: An epilator is not without pain. But the more you use it, the less uncomfortable it gets, and not having to pony up for those razor blades helps ease the discomfort, too.
— HIT THE HEADLINES. For us, reading the morning newspaper is as essential as coffee, but there are days when early meetings – or one too many hits of the snooze bar – have us putting it off until break time or even after the kids are asleep. To keep up with the day’s events at a glance, sign up for a daily email that breaks down the news for you. We like The Skimm, free at www.theskimm.com , for smart takes on what’s going on in politics, sports, pop culture and more. That way, when the boss wants to talk about Serena Williams’ U.S. Open victory or Congress’s latest vote you’ll wow her with your knowledge (and catch up on the details later).