You’re completely frazzled and rushing around the house. School starts in 30 minutes!
You call up the steps but you’re not even sure your kids are out of bed yet, let alone dressed.
You’re trying to get it all done. Make breakfast, sign all the paperwork/homework, pack lunches, and find that darn missing shoe. You can’t focus on one thing because it’s all coming at you at once.
The kids finally come into the kitchen and you run through your list of questions:
Is your bag packed?
Did you brush your teeth?
Do you have everything you need?
Do I need to sign anything for you?
Then, you find out one of them has a project due today that you didn’t even know about!
“We’re going to be late again!” you say, feeling defeated.
(Then, when you get home from drop-off you find their rooms a mess and the beds not made – things have GOT to change!)
Does this sound familiar to you?
These types of chaotic mornings totally sound familiar to me. When my kids were younger, we’d have to leave the house at 6:45 AM so that I could drop them off at 7 AM to make it into work on time. That morning rush was our normal routine, until one day when I got completely fed up with it.
I knew I had to do something about it.
Structuring a Stress Free Morning Routine
If these chaotic mornings are something that you’re struggling with, it is so possible to flip the script and have really nice mornings. Our mornings aren’t 100% perfect every single day, but most days now, my kids wake up, get dressed, brush their teeth, make their bed, go downstairs, empty the dishwasher, eat breakfast, and even some days, pack their own lunches. They are ready to head out the door on time! This is now their routine and what they are used to doing every morning.
It can be the norm in your house, as well. As long as you set up the routine and create a habit, it is possible.
Now, this shift didn’t happen overnight. We had to work up to this level of independence in each of our kids.
But, it’s wonderful.
Sometimes when I wake up, I come downstairs and it’s all done. All I have to do is double check everything and then we’re out the door.
What Needs to Happen
We’ve used every tool and chart under the sun. Some are really good, but they aren’t going to solve the problem. First, you need to have a solid routine to build on or it won’t work.
What actually worked for us was setting the routine with our kids and helping them stay focused. We did this by starting small-scale and working up to a full routine.
We started with a smaller routine with tasks that were age appropriate and easy for them to handle. It looked like this:
Brush your teeth
Make your bed
As they got that initial routine under control and as they got older and could shoulder more responsibility, we started to add things to the routine until we got to where we are now.
The Key to the New Routine
For our family, the key to this new routine working was empowering our kids to take charge of their wake-up instead of depending on mom to wake them up. We did this by providing them each with an alarm clock. We don’t do screens in their bedrooms, so we went with old school alarm clocks.
Then, we let them determine their wake-up time. We did this by giving them a time that they had to be downstairs and ready to go to school. Then, we worked backwards based on how long each task in the routine would take them.
Get A Head Start on Things
The other change in our morning routine that made the biggest difference in getting out the door on time was setting up as much as we could the night before. We began to discuss and set up lots of things the night before. We’re talking backpack packed up, lunches packed, clothing picked out, and even deciding what we’d have for breakfast. All planned out for the next morning before we even went to bed. That way, we didn’t spend time on the morning being indecisive.
Are you ready to say goodbye to chaotic mornings once and for all? It’s time to set up some positive systems in your home! Grab our totally FREE Family Chore and Money System Action Guide and we will walk you through the step-by-step process of designing, implementing, and sticking to a plan that works for your family.
If you know me, you know I am all about preparing myself, my family, and my home for all of the possibilities life can throw at us. One of those possibilities that I’m hyper-vigilant about being prepared for is an emergency exit from our home. Maybe, it comes with the territory when being married to a Fire Captain. That’s why, we not only have a clear emergency exit plan from each room of our home, but we also communicate it with our children and practice it regularly.
My husband and I are using our combined 44 years of medical and emergency services experience to help others prepare their families and homes for the unexpected, too. Today, we’re talking all about creating and practicing emergency exit plans. But first, we tackle why you even need one in the first place.
Why Does My Family Need an Emergency Exit Plan?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be prepared for any and all emergencies. Luck favors the prepared.
One specific type of emergency you should be prepared for is the type of emergency that will require exit from your home. The most common type of emergency that requires exit from your home is a house fire. But don’t forget about other common emergencies like gas leaks or evacuations. In any of these situations, you will have a very limited time to exit your home. Your life could depend on how quickly you do so.
If it becomes necessary to exit your home and you haven’t taken any steps to prepare yourself or your family for this possibility, lots could go wrong. There could be chaos and panic, kids could hide in dangerous places, and your family may become separated in the commotion and uncertainty. However, if your family has a clear exit plan that they’ve reviewed and practiced, the likelihood of all members of the family exiting the home safely increases tremendously.
How-to Create an Emergency Exit Plan
Creating an emergency exit plan for your home is likely easier than you’re thinking. Have you ever noticed that every room in a hotel has an emergency exit route posted clearly on the wall? Well, that got me thinking. And now we use the same idea in our own home!
The first step is to stand in each room of the house. Close your eyes and picture the fastest route out of your house from that room. Also consider alternate routes that can be used if the primary route is in some way blocked or obstructed. This will give you both a primary and a secondary exit plan for each room in your house.
If you’d like handy printable grids where you can draw out your exit plan from each room, grab our FREE family home emergency plan, right here.
Finally, be sure to establish a meeting place, outside, for your family. Whether it be a tree, a light post, or a neighbor’s house, it must be clear and known by all members of the family.
Why and How You Can Practice Your Exit Plan
There’s no use in having an emergency exit plan if you simply create it and then put it in a folder to never be seen again. You’ll need to share it with your family members, review it regularly, and have fun practicing it. You know the old saying, practice makes perfect?
Now I’m not sure “perfect” and emergency exit plan are two phrases you’d ever think of together, but, practicing your emergency exit plan can significantly cut down on the panic and confusion when there is an emergency and quick exit from the home is necessary.
In our family, we love to make a game out of practicing our emergency exit plan. We have each member of the family stand in their room. Then we blindfold them or ask them to close their eyes (this simulates trying to exit a dark or smoky house.) Next, we time how long it takes them to get out and make it to the meeting place. The winner gets all the bragging rights.
We’ll also make certain adjustments to make it more fun, interesting, and test our ability to be adaptable. We may say that they have to exit the home without the use of a certain door or without using a particular hallway. You can adapt things based on your own home, too! You also may have different types of emergencies in your area. Feel free to add your own scenarios into your practice. Just be sure to practice! The more your family is aware and prepared, the safer they will be.
For more information on getting your family and home prepared for any emergency, check out our FREE Family Home Emergency Plan. You can download it right here. Inside, you’ll also find tips for assembling emergency boxes, printable lists and trackers for assembling emergency information, and other important planning tools.
Who spent way more than you wanted to for the Holidays? Yep, that’s me raising both my hands. I’m guilty. Holiday Finances way out of control.
Look, it happens even to the best of us. So there’s no point in beating ourselves up over it, right?
December was a bust in our house, for sure. Heck, all of 2020 was a bust, really. But let’s not dwell on it for too long. There’s no good that will come from that.
Instead, acknowledge it and then make a plan.
I’m all about coming up with solutions and getting into action to make positive changes.
So if you’re telling yourself, “This is it, I need to get my spending in check,” or “It’s a new year and I’m ready to get back on the bandwagon”, then you’re going to want to take action on these items, today! That way you can start the new year off on the right track.
8 simple actions you can take today to get your finances under control
Unsubscribe From All Retail Emails
If you’re like me, your inbox gets filled with emails from every company you’ve ever bought anything from. And sometimes, even from places where you just browsed (I know! It’s so creepy how they do that.)
Just go on and scroll to the bottom of that email. All marketing emails like this are required to offer you the option to “Unsubscribe”. Hit that button, I promise you won’t miss anything important.
Delete All Shopping Apps From Your Phone
There are so many apps that make it easier for us to shop online (like Amazon, Target, Groupon, and more). But, if we want to shop less, we don’t want those apps staring at us, taunting us, every time we check out phones. Go ahead and delete them. You’ll thank me later.
Delete All Saved Cards on Websites
Sure, saving your card info on a website is a convenience, but we don’t want to make shopping any easier, right? If you delete that saved card info, it won’t be so easy to buy.
Add Items to Your Wishlist Instead of Add to Cart
If you’re window shopping on Amazon, you can opt to add items you’re looking at to a wishlist instead of to your cart. This will help you to take some time to think about the item and if you really need it before you purchase.
Wait a Minimum of 24 Hours
Before you buy anything, wait. Then, after 24 hours, ask yourself if you really need to buy it. You’ll be amazed how this simple step will affect your spending.
Find an Accountability Partner
Find someone that can help you stay in check. If you have a weak moment, his/her image will suddenly appear in your mind and force you to have second thoughts about spending. You can help each other get your finances on track!
Check Your Emotions Before Buying
Make sure you’re not shopping just to fill an emotional void, because you’re bored, to feel a rush of endorphins, or to distract yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I buying out of boredom, anxiety, frustrations, sadness?”
Try a No Spend Day
Challenge yourself and designate no spend days. Find some friends and even do a group no spend day challenge to make it fun!
I know a lot of these are going to be hard to do at first but you can do it. Imagine all the money you will save that can go towards your next family vacation? Just pick one and tell me below which one you went with. I will help cheer you on!
For more tips on getting your finances under control, check out our Free Family Monthly Budget Action Plan. This Monthly Budgeting Action Plan, offers step-by-step instructions to guide you through the exact steps you need to take to set up your own family budgeting plan.
I have a vision. A vision that raising financially confident kids will be an easy-to-do, everyday family routine. Not just the savings and investing portion but also how to manage and make smarter decisions around money in our day-to-day lives.
My dream is that one day, these important money lessons may even be included as a required class in High Schools and Elementary Schools. But we don’t need to wait for that to happen to begin growing financially confident kids. We can start today by teaching our own kids.
I know that in order to make that happen, I need to help as many parents get their household finances in order first. Let’s do this. Not just for our own future but for our kids and their kid’s kids.
Here are 6 things I believe financially confident kids should know. Plus a few tips for how you can begin teaching these lessons to your kids:
What’s a Budget?
Make sure your kids know exactly what a budget is.
Here is a super kid friendly definition for budgeting. Keeping track of all the money you got and how much of it was used to pay for different things so you know what you have left over.
Including your kids in your family budget planning is a great way to teach them what it takes to run a household at an early age and it’s a lesson they won’t ever forget.
We recommend including your kids in budget decisions starting at a young age, and inviting them to your family money meetings as soon as they are old enough to grasp what is going on.
Since our kids were 4 and 6 years old, we’ve had them use piggy banks to start teaching them the concept of earning and saving their money to pay for things. Now that they are 10 and 12, we’ve been working on introducing the concept of budgeting to them. Kids that grow up in a home where money is discussed openly and honestly, become more conscious and responsible with their own spending and expenses.
How to be Smart with Credit Cards
It’s so easy to accrue extensive credit card debt if you don’t fully understand how they work. I’m guilty myself. At one point, I had over 100K built up. But it’s important to teach kids that when they choose to buy now, pay later – they’re really paying more later due to interest.
Here is a kid friendly definition of credit. When you buy things at the store now and pay for it later.
And a kid friendly definition of interest. Extra money you have to pay when you don’t pay the bills on time.
Credit cards aren’t all bad, you can use them smartly – but children need to be taught how to.
Needs vs. Wants
Teaching our kids the difference between a want and a need can be so difficult. While it is tricky to explain to littles and sometimes confusing for them to work out in their minds, it is so important.
Here is a kid friendly definition of need. Things to help you live and grow safely, like clothes, shoes, food, shelter, electricity
And a kid friendly definition of want. Things that helps make life more easy and fun like toys, iPads, and vacations.
Bills, don’t we all wish we lived a life without them! But that’s not the case, there will always be bills. Financially confident kids need to learn what bills are, how they work, and how they pay them.
Here’s a kid friendly definition of bills. The money you have to pay or owe for different things you use in the house or buy at the store.
Make sure that kids know bills come in lots of different shapes and sizes. The may each have different payment schedules (some bills might be monthly, some quarterly, and some yearly), and they may need to be paid differently (mailed in, in person, or paid electronically – some are even taken directly out of paychecks or accounts).
When talking about bills, you’ll likely also stumble into a conversation about late fees. This is what happens when bills aren’t paid on time. It’s also how debt can really start to pile on quickly.
You could explain late fees to your kids by using an example of not cleaning their room each week. If they miss one week, there’s even more to clean up the next week – plus a consequence for not cleaning up in the first place.
Here is a kid friendly definition of late fees. A charge you pay when they fail to make a payment on time.
Living Below Your Means
Another important lesson that will help to make your kids financially confident is teaching them to live below their means. It’s best to teach this lesson by example by showing your kids how you budget, where your money goes, and how much you have left after paying bills and spending. You can even take it a step further by establishing a chore and money system in your home and put your child in charge of his/her own finances.
Are you looking for support in getting your finances in order so you can set a better example for your kids and get them off on the right track? I’d love to help you out! Grab our FREE Family Chore and Money System Guideand get your family started today!
2020 was unlike any other year we’ve ever lived through. There was a global pandemic, calls for social change, unprecedented unemployment, virtual learning, and a chaotic election. It was a year of learning, change, and growth for many but also grief and struggle. One lesson I know many people are taking with them from 2020 is the need to be prepared for the unexpected.
With such a crazy year, I know many people who struggled through the holiday season financially. They weren’t financially prepared for Christmas.
I have a question for you and it might be a bit personal – how much did you spend on Christmas 2020? Were you okay with the amount you spent? Or did you spend way more than you had planned?
Have you taken the time to add up all of the gifts, purchases, decorations, and foods you bought for Christmas 2020? If not, go grab a piece of paper and figure it out! Find the exact number (or as close to it as you can get) and take a good hard look at that number. Then ask yourself – am I happy with this amount? Was I prepared to spend this amount?
If you’re not happy with what you spent and you feel like you don’t even know how you paid for it all (or you do know how you paid for it – on credit – and you’re going to be paying it off for months), I have some news for you.
NOW is the best time to start planning for NEXT Christmas.
3 Steps to Make Sure You’re Financially Prepared for Christmas 2021!
Take the Number You Just Wrote Down and Adjust it Realistically.
So, I just asked you to find out exactly what you spent on Christmas 2020. Whether you paid for Christmas in cash or on credit, this number gives you a real hard look at exactly how much you spent. Take it in and get comfortable with it. Then, consider where you are at currently and make adjustments based on that.
If you went way over and feel buried in credit card bills, lower that number. If you’re pleasantly surprised with how much you spent and you stayed right within your budget, keep it the same or bump it up a bit.
This type of assessment, and reflection – after any major event or purchase, is really important to your realistic budget planning.
Divide by 10, 11, or 12 – You Pick!
When will you start shopping for holiday gifts and begin decorating your home? Considering this will help you to determine when you’ll need your fund built up by. If you start shopping in July, you’ll want to have a good amount in your fund after only 6 months. If you wait until after Thanksgiving to get started, you could go with 11 months.
Set up Your Christmas 2021 Sinking Fund – Either Digital or Cash Envelopes
Now that you know the numbers you’re working with, get your Christmas 2021 sinking fund set up! That way, you’ll be financially prepared for Christmas! A sinking fund is a fund that you set aside each month to go towards a specific expense, savings, or payment. In this case, that expense is Christmas 2021. To set this up, you can either use a digital budgeting app like YNAB or cash envelopes.
YNAB, aka You Need A Budget, is personal budgeting software and it’s available for Windows, Mac, and iOS. Setting up a sinking fund on YNAB is super simple. It’s just a matter of creating the fund and then specifying how much you’ll add to it each month. You’ve already done that math, so you’re set.
If digital is not your thing, you can instead use cash envelopes. Simply grab an envelope, label it Christmas 2021 and add the specific amount to that envelope each month.
Being proactive or planning ahead for Christmas shopping is such a huge relief! I used to always dread having to go Christmas shopping because I knew that meant I needed to spend money I didn’t have, but now, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I go into Christmas shopping with my mind at ease, which makes it a much more enjoyable experience.
If you’re ready for a fresh start in 2021 and you’re looking to take off on the right foot, come and join my 5 Day Family Budgeting Challenge starting next week! In the challenge, we’ll go through my 5 step process for getting a simple family budget set up that will work for you and your family. Join the 5 Day Family Budgeting Challenge right here!