How to Save the Day from a Bad Morning

Photo by lepiaf.geo

Is it one of those days? You wake up and it’s not even light outside but a little face is standing three inches from you needing food. You step in something wet on the way to the kitchen, face last night’s dishes in the sink, and you’re still wearing yesterday’s shirt. I know from experience.

Some mornings are better than others. It’s tempting to give up and say you’ll deal with it all tomorrow.

If your morning gets off to a bad start, don’t give up just yet. There’s hope.

  1. Are you clean? Do you have time to get a shower? Did you brush your hair and teeth?
  2. Get dressed, all the way, like you’re going somewhere even if you’re not. Don’t lounge in your housepants.
  3. Did you eat something? Coffee or coke doesn’t count. You need breakfast even if you’ve conditioned your body to go without it. Eat a meal with some protein and carbs, like an egg and toast, or a smoothie with fruit and protein powder.
  4. Take care of yourself. Take your vitamins and drink a glass of water.
  5. Do one thing to make your house better: run the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, or make the bed.
  6. Read something inspirational. Read a few verses from the Bible or another book that is important to you.
  7. Speak kindly and smile at your family members. No need to spread the grump.

I know how mornings like this feel, and that’s how I know little reminders like these help you to start over.

(I’ve been focusing on eating breakfast every day, because I used to not feel like eating in the morning. What do you eat for breakfast?)

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Wow, I needed this one yesterday. It’s funny, but not one of those things did I do, and the rest of the day just blew up. Thank you. With a tempestuous toddler, this is getting starred, printed, and put in my planner!

    Rae´s last blog post..I know I said I would…

  2. GREAT reminders. I have started eating breakfast everyday and it’s made a big difference in my attitude and what I eat the rest of the day. Thanks for this!

  3. Thank you for the timely reminders! I like to eat breakfast each day and it really does make a difference in how I face the day. My favorite breakfast is: coffee (always!), “all-whites” eggs with some shredded cheese and fruit of some kind–whatever is in season. It is fast and delicious!

  4. So do you have a spy cam in my house or something? So many of my mornings have started like this lately. Your ideas are spot on, I will work towards them next time its noon and I’m still in my pjs with dirty teeth.

    Alana @ Gray Matters´s last blog post..2008 Before & After Recap

  5. FlyLady says you must always get dressed to the shoes, and you can do anything for fifteen minutes! (I love FlyLady) When I have those mornings where I feel like my house is a disaster and nothing can save it (or me!) I lace up my shoes, put on some music (another great pick-me-up), set my timer for fifteen minutes and get to work. It is amazing how much you can get done in fifteen minutes and it will surprise how much that jump start can keep you going the rest of the day.

    Speaking of jump starts, for breakfast I eat a small bowl of Kashi GoLean Crunch (has protein and fiber) and a bowl of oatmeal (sticks with me). I love it because I can eat breakfast at 8am and be good to go until around 2pm. That way I can focus on taking care of the kids until they have naptime/quiet time, which is when I can eat my lunch in peace. :-)

    Thanks for the great tips! Love reading your blog!

    KaseyQ´s last blog post..A Thrifty Treat: Bedtime Beauty

  6. Great tips!

    For breakfast we alternate between yogurt-fruit smoothies, eggs, coconut flour pancakes and a leftover grain turned into a porridge. That last one is super fast and simple. If we are having brown rice or millet as a side to dinner I will make a double batch and then store the leftovers in the same cooking pot in the fridge. The next morning I take the pot out, at enough milk (cow’s, almond or coconut) to keep the grains moist. Warm it up over medium-low heat and serve with butter, dried or fresh fruit, sweetener of choice, nuts/seeds, cinnamon, etc. We usually will fry up an egg to go with this if we are looking for more protein.

    I actually love breakfast. Never ate it growing up, but now it’s one of my favorite meals of the day. I would love to have a breakfast foods blog carnival :).

    Shannon´s last blog post..Nourishing New Year’s Goals

  7. I confess that breakfast for me is Diet Coke. I’ve been thinking about getting up earlier and fixing (actually cooking!) breakfast for the 3 of us. My husband takes meds in the morning that upset his stomach without food, but he usually cuts his time so close in the morning he has no time for breakfast. I think my daughter is tired of oatmeal bars for breakfast also. Good reminders, thanks!

  8. This is a big reason that I try my best to be the first person awake in the morning. I am NOT a morning person, but it’s important to me (and the productivity of my day) that I’m showered, dressed and ready for the day. It’s hard to make that happen when my daughter requires my immediate and undivided attention and next thing I know my nieces are walking through the door.

    Also … peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning with my coffee. No, not the healthiest, but I LOVE it.

    Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..What’s Inspired Me Lately

  9. I have had lot of these mornings. Recently I started getting up earlier than my children so that I can get a shower and some quiet time before they rise. Is really has made all the difference.
    I love your blog!!!

  10. Breakfast is my favorite meal – I even sneak it in for dinner sometimes!
    Here’s some ideas that work for me and my family: Oatmeal with buttered toast; toast with scrambled eggs, fruit and yogurt or applesauce; breakfast casserole – leftover bread, eggs, cheese, green pepper and sausage; english muffin with fried egg and cheese (add ham or sausage if you like); muffins; pancakes and bacon or sausage; and the easiest cereal when you can hardly open your eyes but need something quick.

    Thanks for the advise on how to start the morning on the right foot after we have stumbled over our left. With a toddler and our second due any day I need to keep these in mind.

  11. This morning I ate a poached egg and a clementine; sometimes I have oatmeal or yogurt. I usually feel better after I start listening to music and brush my teeth.

  12. Great reminder! Everything you listed truly does help my morning run smoother. I have to eat breakfast or it’s not pretty! :) Lately, I’ve been eating scrambled eggs, half of whole wheat bagel, and half of an avocado. I’m pregnant so the extra protein really helps!

    Jenny´s last blog post..The Christmas Eve Surprise

  13. Sandra Gonzales says:


    I love reading your blog because you are just so real. My daughter is 9 going on 10 now, but I can clearly remember the Saturday mornings having her 3 inches away from my face needing food. They grow too fast.

    Yes, everyone should try to be positive even if life isn’t cooperating.

  14. If mornings are busy I grab a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter. I also like oatmeal with fruit or just a bowl of cereal. I love a big breakfast on the weekend.

    I have also found flylady’s babysteps helpful, I am much happier when my sink is clean.

    Lia´s last blog post..My Grandmother’s scarves

  15. Christine says:

    Breakfast here is simple.
    I alternate between 2 things:

    1. A one egg breakfast taco (w/ cheese and salsa on a whole wheat tortilla) OR
    2. Steel cut oats w/ almonds, walnuts, and a little honey and milk.

    I usually eat a little fruit as well.
    I soak the oats (1 cup) over night and cook them in the morning and then put them in the fridg. for the next few days.

    Boxed cereals are usually loaded w/ sugar and are costly so we ended that habit.

  16. I usually have oatmeal or a breakfast shake. In the summer I’ll eat cereal like shredded wheat or cheerios and milk. I’ve been working on making sure I eat something in the morning the past few months. I’m not a morning person. It takes me a bit of time to really wake up. I’m not a grump, I’m just not all there for the first half hour or so. I usually don’t feel like eating, which is why I love the shakes. I can just take them to work and drink them on the way.

    My bad mornings usually start between getting ready to leave work and getting to work, so some of those don’t apply. If I get a chance I’ll take a few minutes to unpack at work and tidy up a bit. I’ll check my feed reader and read a few comics to get my mind off of the bad start to the day. If work is hectic or if I am running really late I’ll do some stretches at my desk and then try to keep a smile on my face and pretend I am having a great day. The continuance of a bad day from a bad morning is almost always mental and something as simple as a smiling does wonders for me.

  17. I have a lot of trouble just getting going in the morning. At home, I concentrate on getting out the door, and then I eat breakfast at work. Luckily that is an easy option for me. Most mornings it is extra fiber instant oatmeal, a banana and coffee. If I’m out of oatmeal I have double fiber toast w/ peanut butter instead. It’d be better if I could eat regular oatmeal, but I only have so many options since I’m at work.

  18. I like oatmeal, but usually my breakfast is a Zone bar and a coffee. I know, it’s not as healthy as some other choices, but I figure it’s better than skipping!

  19. Yep KaseyQ, I was thinking FlyLady, too!! Getting dressed to the shoes every day really helps me feel motivated. Although as I’m typing this, I’m still in pjs, but that’s another story. :) If I only get one thing done on a bad day, it’s shining that sink. Hahah!

    I’m a believer in never skipping breakfast. Usually it’s a cup of oatmeal (real stuff – not the packets with all the junk in them) topped with some Craisins, a link of turkey sausage and some OJ. I also like to make my own pancakes in bulk on the weekend and freeze them so all I have to do for the family is pop them in the microwave. Alton Brown has a great dry mix base for that will keep for 3 mos in the pantry. My kids never want me to use Bisquick again! LOL!

  20. I have to have breakfast every single day. Although my days of a needy toddler are over, I now have teenagers who still need my attention in the morning — I serve up breakfast with some special parental advice daily. Ha.

    Favorites: srambled eggs & toast, pbj on toast, bagel or english muffin, oatmeal, homemade muffins or breads. For me personally, I have to have protein in the a.m.; makes a huge difference in how I function.

    Nancy´s last blog post..Recovery | A Challenge

  21. Funny, just how many of us feel like this and do not hit these reminders. I know I don’t most days! Waking up to a toddler that not only wants to eat but DEMANDS to eat can start you in off in quite a foul mood. I am a big breakfast eater (a little too big actually). I love pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, eggs, you name it. Instead of trying to eat, I am trying to eat less with 1egg and 1 pancake and tea, or fruit and coffee. This is helping because I was in taking way to much sugar at breakfast making my morning sweet but, my afternoons sluggish. Thanks for the helpful reminders!

  22. I usually have oatmeal with a little cinnamon and brown sugar, with some unsweetened vanilla soy milk. I’ve been eating this for breakfast for YEARS now (once I convinced myself to always have breakfast). Unfortunately – I am currently out of oatmeal, milk, cereal, and bread. And I need to dig my car out if I want to go anywhere.

    These are the things I’ve been trying to do everyday since my son was born so that I can feel ok with the world! The only one I haven’t done is “read something inspirational” – I’m working on reading just ANYTHING at least once a day.

  23. I totally agree with your little list – especially the part about getting a shower and dressing like you’re going to go out! I’m much more productive when I do that.
    You don’t want to know what I eat for breakfast! I’m such a creature of habit I rarely diverge from peanut butter toast! :)
    Have a great weekend, Rachel!

    Shilo´s last blog post..The Screaming Banshee Meets Baby’s First Christmas

  24. Sometimes the little things make a big difference…Great post…thanks!

    Jolene´s last blog post..I Just Want You All to Know..

  25. Rachel this was perfect inspiration for me today because I started out not doing so well. I snagged the sweater I was wearing to work, arrived at work just in time to log in, locked myself out of my computer, then sprayed hand sanitizer all over my hair (don’t ask)…thanks for putting my focus back in check. Have a great weekend!!

    jenifriend in kansas´s last blog post..Sharp Tingles Run Through My Arms

  26. The ability to make midstream changes like this is a real survival skill. If I am driving my day into a ditch being a grumpy turd (for whatever reason), exercise usually “resets my clock”. When my son is acting up/being impossible, I try to break the bickering cycle but saying outloud “I love you very much Eli, you are a very special boy”. Calms us both down.
    Allowing and/or steering your mind to focus on something other than your poor start/ poor performance is not only a way to overcome a bad morning, but a way to overcome a lot of self defeating behavior and counter productive self criticism.
    Another simple yet profound post, Rachel. Thanks!

  27. Timely post. Thanks. I have the hardest time with the not spreading the grump part! In fact, this morning I warned my girls that mom is grumpy and I was sorry in advance.

    Saying morning prayers is really the only way I’ve found that truly turns my day around.

    Thanks for the post!

    Andrea´s last blog post..This is how we do it

  28. i try to do something different for breakfast when i can to keep it interesting. today was waffles, yesterday eggs on toast, the day before that was probably a cereal bar and yoghurt. there are plenty of days though, where breakfast is a coke at 930am, but that’s usually a monday morning [my only day in the office] and i’ve gone to bed at midnight, as usual.

    your thoughts on making a bad morning turn into a good day are so right on. i’m going to go do my hair and makeup right now. and make my bed. and maybe even say a prayer.

  29. Wonderful reminders. I’ve had several mornings this week where I just wanted to drop the kids at daycare and go home and crawl back in to bed. Next week will be better.

    Mama Goose´s last blog post..My Baby

  30. I had a bumpy start to my day. So I took a deep breath….and decided to start my day over. I forget sometimes that I have the power to do that. Then I opened your list of suggestions..I love having new options…

    I liked….Do one thing to make your house better.


  31. I had a morning like that on Monday, our first day back to school after the long break. I overslept to find no juice made or even defrosted, bread also still sitting frozen in the freezer, Vintage Girl beyond sad and blue (and angry!) that she had to go back to school . . . it wasn’t pretty.

    I must confess I indulged in feeling quite sorry for myself, but then I got in motion, which always helps. Even just picking up around the house is therapy. Vintage Girl rallied eventually and we were okay.

    I always eat breakfast, usually oatmeal, but my latest favorite is a bit of cheese melted on whole grain bread – mmmm. And a giant latte or coffee too, of course!

    Vintage Mommy´s last blog post..It’s Not My Story to Tell

  32. Oh, this post was so relevant to this morning! I wake up to a grumpy everlovin’ and a filthy house which gave me my own bad crankiness. Straight away, I started cleaning, listened to some loud Rage Against The Machine angry music (which always makes me feel better), called a friend for a chat and had a banana and some peppermint tea for breakfast. Soon, I will have a shower and hopefully the metamorphosis will be complete!

  33. My husband lost a lot of weight when he started eating breakfast … our nutritionist told him his metabolism went straight down when he skipped breakfast.

    My favorite breakfast is Irish oatmeal cooked with raisins with raw walnuts sprinkled on top.

    I’d like to add that hugs help a salvage a bad morning too. Sometimes I just have to hug the kid, admit it started wrong and change the channel by playing a game or reading a good book (after a nice hot shower of course!)

    I love your blog and come here every day!

    Mary´s last blog post..First Steps Toward Healthier Eating

  34. What a thoughtful and helpful list. It puts everything in the right perspective. I’ve had plenty of rough mornings… but the days always seems to smooth out after I get some food in my belly.

    I love oatmeal, but no one else in my house will eat it. Some days I’ll give my husband and kids a bowl of cereal, so that I can savor my yummy oats and they are happy too. But, usually I made eggs. I’ll make scrambled egg burrito’s or poached eggs with wheat toast. And warm coffee or tea for my husband and I, and juice or milk for the kids. I do love breakfast. :)


    lilyhaven´s last blog post..Beach Days

  35. Laurie, I love how you put that! My *rambunctious* ;) 5 yo boy is usually the one to get me goin on the wrong foot. (Usually) I can restart my taking that deep breath, giving him a hug, and announcing to all that we are having a re-do on the morning. You’re right, we have the power to do that! We are the mommies after all!

    I also think it’s a good lesson for the kids. They see that I can have a bad moment with one of them, or just a bad morning overall, and snap out of it.

  36. Not my everyday breakfast, but the fastest one I’ve found is a granola bar and a glass of milk. It is much faster than even toast or cereal and you can run out of the house with it. The trick is to buy the granola bars that have the least sugar in them. I’ve tried this with a piece of fruit and milk, but the granola bar keeps me full longer.

  37. My favorite breakfast right now is kind of weird. I take a Morningstar Farm Grillers Prime veggie burger and heat it up in the microwave, fry an egg only with a teeny bit of spray to over medium, and stack it all together with american cheese and Herbes de Provence (garlic, lemon, lavender, and all those other herbs make eggs taste delicious!). I eat this with some citrus fruit. It makes me feel fancy, which makes my day come together easier!

  38. V. Higgins says:

    Great post! I’m horrible about breakfast, I never feel like eating a meal until about 9 or 10 and by that time I’m at the office. I usually have a cereal bar and a glass of Instant Breakfast. Any suggestions on how to get my tummy to accept a full meal at 6 in the morning?

  39. Great reminders particularly because breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.

    Geri´s last blog post..Proper Posture

  40. V., I don’t know, maybe exercise right before? I’m hungry when I wake up but it’s still hard to find something that my stomach wants to eat. (Which was my secret motive in asking for all of these new breakfast ideas!)

  41. I love these suggestions, and I love it when you can take that day that is going sour and turn it around before it goes too far. In addition to your ideas I also like to turn off the tv and turn on some good upbeat music or get some fresh air in the house. That always helps change my mindset.

    Darcy´s last blog post..She’s a Talker