Managing work and home life is a juggling act at best, but there are ways to help make mornings run a little smoother and as a result help your week pass without too many unnecessary hiccups. First off, it all starts with a little preparation at the weekend – menu planning for the week, doing your grocery shopping ahead of time and preparing breakfasts and school lunches the evening before. This can make the mornings and the week pass a whole lot easier.

Mother cutting her young son some melon at home in the kitchen

Here are some more practical tips to help ease your busy schedule:

1. Be time savvy

Managing your time is key. If you know you’re going to be pressured in the morning, shower the night before and get your clothes and the kid’s uniforms laid out ready to put straight on.

2. Eat a better breakfast

Often described as the most important meal of the day, breakfast replenishes your supply of glucose, boosts energy levels, helps keep you alert and provides other essential nutrients to steer you through your day. Although you might think you’re saving time by skipping breakfast, it is never a good idea and can result in poor concentration, low energy, irritability and more stress – and that's before your day really gets going.

If time is short, plan ahead and pour out a bowl of muesli the night before or prepare a bowl of peanut butter overnight oats – simply top with sliced fruit and a generous splash of milk or yogurt. Alternatively, top a slice of whole-grain bread with some low-fat cream cheese and flakes of poached salmon from the fridge, or save leftovers. If the family tucked into frittata for supper, keep a slice to enjoy cold in the morning.

More like this

Check out our healthy breakfast recipes, including porridge, blueberry baked oats or slow cooker breakfast beans.

3. Take the pressure off

Forget spending your morning commute worrying about the evening meal – you’ll never be short of meal solutions or risk not being able to find that favourite recipe if you sign up to a cooking app. These tools help track, organise and manage meals, create shopping lists and help avoid unnecessary grocery purchases. A cooking app can save you time, money and brain power.

4. Mid-morning fuel up

Many people find eating little and often through the day helps them manage their blood sugar levels. This doesn't mean eating more but rather spreading your day's intake out evenly over the day. Make every snack count with nourishing options that supply both the 'pick me up' you need while topping up your five-a-day.

For example, consider swapping your morning biscuits for oatcakes spread with peanut or almond butter and a banana, or have a tasty dip with veggie sticks. Fuel food such as these boost your body and your brain. Combining unsalted nuts and seeds, with some sliced fruit such as a pear, plum or apple is also a great way to recharge your batteries. The natural sugars in fruit (fructose) are absorbed more slowly than refined sugar and if you combine fruit with protein, like yogurt, you'll feel fuller for longer. The nuts and seeds supply valuable B vitamins and minerals, which help you cope with the stresses of the day and supports your body’s ability to convert the energy in your food to fuel.

Be inspired by our healthy snack recipes, including healthier flapjacks and tuna lettuce wraps.

Healthy vegan date & walnut flapjacks cut into squares

5. Stay hydrated

Losing as little as 1% of your body weight in fluid may reduce mental performance, as well as bring on tiredness and even headache.

This mild level of dehydration can easily occur through the course of a normal day’s activities, so don’t neglect the water fountain at work or even better, keep a bottle on your desk.

6. Mind the gap

Keep your energy and blood sugar levels stable by avoiding long gaps between meals and snacks. This is especially important in the afternoon – energy slumps and skipped meals are more likely to have you reaching for sweet snacks and chocolate, or susceptible to nibble as you prepare the kids' tea.

Include protein and fibre at lunch to help sustain you through the afternoon – you can use leftovers from the night before to make a filling salad or a tasty wrap that you can use in the kid’s lunchboxes too.

For the best leftovers, try our Spanish-style chicken with butter beans or double bean & roasted red pepper chilli.

7. Fight fatigue

If you've got less energy now than you used to, it may be worth checking your diet. Many women don't get enough iron, you need this important mineral to carry oxygen in the blood to keep you energised. Iron-rich foods include meat, fish and poultry as well as nuts, seeds, legumes and pulses and even dried fruit like apricots and prunes.

If you're a vegetarian or vegan it may be worth checking your B12 levels – this vitamin is found in animal foods like meat, fish and dairy, and a deficiency can make you tired and low in energy. Each day, aim to include 2-3 servings of foods fortified with vitamin B12 these include plant milks such as soya as well as fortified breakfast cereals.

It can seem counter-intuitive, but scheduling exercise into your day boosts energy and gives you more get-up-and-go and of course don’t neglect adequate restful sleep.

Try our iron-rich recipes for steak goulash with sweet potato fries, tofu & spinach cannelloni, and hearty lentil one-pot stew.

8. Get ahead

Stock up on home-cooked ready meals by cooking extra and freezing ahead. This is the perfect time-saving solution for the busy mum – cook once but twice the amount – this method works with lasagne, cottage and shepherd pies, tagines, stews and curries.

Discover our best freezable recipes, including chicken tikka masala and slow cooker meatballs.

9. Work together

Use your personal mums' network to pool resources and help each other out. Keeping a list of back-up helpers for times of emergency, such as when someone is unwell, means you’re less likely to be caught out.

If you are a working dad and want to make your diet work harder for you, discover our top nutritional tips in our guide: Working dad? Here's how to start your day well.

How do you cope with work and childcare commitments? Tell us your tips for staying energised and organised for when the going gets tough.

Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.


All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post