13. Use real sugar in your coffee, or drink a cup of orange juice. When researchers at the University of Virginia tested the memories of healthy 60- to 80-year-olds, they found those who had a small amount of sugar in the morning (the experimenters compared sweetened to unsweetened lemonade) even before breakfast had better memory recall that day on into the following day. We’re talking small amounts, however, about a teaspoon or less; so put down that doughnut.
14. Check your morning calendar. This is the large calendar or white board you’ve hung in a prominent position in your kitchen. On it, you write everything you need to know for that particular day, from kids’ activities to whether the guy is coming to service the furnace to whether it’s time to pay bills. Check it out carefully while you sip that first cup of coffee or morning tea; it will help you structure your day in your mind and avoid the stressful effects of forgetting something important.
15. Swallow 500 mg of calcium citrate. Your body is better at absorbing this form of calcium than the other commonly used form, calcium carbonate, found in antacids like Tums and Rolaids. You’ll need at least another 500 mg before you go to bed.
16. Drink eight ounces of water. You’ve been fasting all night and you wake each morning dehydrated.
17. Create a checklist for your kids. If you don’t have kids, skip this one. But if you do, this is a biggie. To cut down on morning chaos, hang a white board in the hallway or kitchen and list all the things that must be done before the kids can leave: brush teeth, eat breakfast, get backpack together, make bed, and so on. Have them check off or erase each item once it’s completed. You can do the same thing with lists printed out from your computer. Set a consequence: If all items aren’t checked off 5 minutes before you need to leave, there’s no TV, PlayStation, dessert, or computer time that night.
18. Keep a wicker basket for yourself and each child by the front or back door. Into it go your keys, wallet, purse, and the child’s backpack, papers, gloves, hats, etc. This will prevent that frantic last-minute scouring of the house as you look for lost items.
19. Split up in the morning. That means you use one bathroom and your partner uses another. Even if you are still madly in love, bathroom time should be private time. It makes for a calmer, less stressful start to your day.
20. Wash more efficiently. We spend an average of about 12 minutes in the shower. That’s fine when you’re preparing for date night. But in the morning, you need to get in and out quickly. If you’re not into showering the night before (we do understand about bed head) try using two-in-one products like a cleanser that both cleans and moisturizes or a combination shampoo and conditioner. When you wash your body, just hit the hot spots, i.e., your groin and underarms. Everything else can just be rinsed off. The health benefit: reducing stress by saving time.
21. Prepare an emergency outfit in your closet. Include socks, jewelry, hose, etc., so on those mornings when you sleep through the alarm or simply need an extra 10 minutes, you can just pluck it off the hanger and go.
22. Dry more efficiently. Start with an oversized, 100 percent cotton bath sheet for maximum blotting. Towel-dry your hair and let it air-dry while you do your makeup or put on your underwear. Then, if you use a blow-dryer, make it a high-energy one, at least 1,600 watts. Anything else is just wasting precious time.
23. Hop on the treadmill for 30 minutes.
Studies find that people who work out in the morning are more likely to stick with their exercise regimen because they get it out of the way and don’t have all day to come up with diversions and excuses. Plus, you will produce endorphins that will last most of the day.
24. Kiss all the people you love in your house (including the dog and cat) before you leave. Connecting with the ones you love soothes stress and provides you with a positive start to your day, as well as keeping you focused on what’s really important says therapist Barbara Bartlein, L.C.S.W., author of Why Did I Marry You Anyway? 125 Strategies for a Happy Marriage.