Say Goodbye to Chaotic Mornings: Get the Kids out of the House Without the Stress

Say Goodbye to Chaotic Mornings: Get the Kids out of the House Without the Stress

pin image for Say Goodbye to Chaotic MorningsYou’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:

  • Wake up
  • 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.

How to Have a Family Money Meeting (Even with Young Kids)

How to Have a Family Money Meeting (Even with Young Kids)

One thing I know for sure – and you’ll hear me say over and over again is this: It’s never too early to start talking to your kids about money! I try to find spontaneous moments in my daily life where I can share with my kids about money. But, I try to teach them about money in a more structured way, too. 

One way my husband and I do this is by holding Family Money Meetings. These meetings are designed for us to discuss and explain to our kids the process of earning money, spending money, and saving money. 

What is a Family Money Meeting and why should we have one?

We had our very first family money meeting when we first introduced our kids to our chore and money system. The meeting was to discuss the new process and to make sure everyone was on the same page. We also wanted to get them excited about it. 

We encouraged them to propose their own ideas or input into the new process and you can do the same with your kids. The more involved they are, the more likely they are to stick to the plan. If their ideas make sense and you can accommodate it, add it.

We now incorporate these Family Money Meetings into our schedule every few months to check in on the process and make sure everything is still working for everyone. We will also call a meeting sooner if there is an issue that needs to be addressed or a system that needs to be changed. 

featured image for How to Have a Family Money Meeting

Here are 5 things we discuss at our Family Money Meeting

Rules

The first thing we need to discuss with our kids in a Family Money Meeting are the rules! The kids need to know what is expected of them. This should be very clear, down to the days things will be done and to what standard they will be completed. The more clear you can be about expectations, the more likely your kids will be successful. 

Ramifications

Next, you need to discuss consequences. Discuss ramifications for things not being done, i.e. lose money and screen time. Be clear to explain that in the real world, people get fired if they don’t do their jobs.

Pay Day

For this topic, you want to let them know exactly what day each week they will be paid. Also, discuss what will happen each payday (see below). 

money banks

Money Banks

After you talk to your kids about their pay day, you want to make sure they have a clear plan for what they will do with that money once they are paid. We suggest setting your kids up with three money banks: one for savings, one for spending, and one for sharing. You want to explain the three types of money banks they will have and talk about how they are different.

Once they receive their pay, they will be expected to divide up their pay into the 3 money bins. I leave it up to them to decide where their money goes but the only thing I do reinforce is that something has to go into each bin. You could make it so that it’s a standard % like 40/40/20 or any variation–really it’s up to you. Keep in mind that you will want to pay them in denominations that would be easy for them to divide, whether it’s quarters or bills.

Tracking

Next, you’ll want to talk to your kids about keeping track of how much money they have in each bank. Explain to them that each time they add in or take out money, they will need to track it. This is so they will always know how much money they really have. Then they can properly decide whether they can afford that new toy or not.

In the beginning and depending on their age, you will be more involved with helping them figure this out or be supervising. This is to make sure they understand what to do. 

 

Looking for more information on establishing a money and chore system in your home? Check out my FREE and handy Family Chore and Money System Guide, right here.

How I Manage My Spending Without Cash Envelopes

How I Manage My Spending Without Cash Envelopes

Pin image for How I Manage My Spending Without Cash EnvelopesDo you use cash envelopes? Or do you know someone who does? Or maybe, like me, you’ve tried it and hated it!

Cash envelopes are a really good tool for some people, but not me. I’m here to tell you about why I don’t like them and what I do instead to keep my finances organized and how I manage it all.

Spoiler alert: my system is easier and much more simple! 

Who are Cash Envelopes Good For?

Cash envelopes are a great option for people who really need to have that control. These are people who don’t want to be tempted to overspend on things.

It’s also great for people who need the visual of seeing that a particular envelope is empty and knowing that you’re done with that for the week or month. 

Why I Don’t Like Using Cash Envelopes.

Using cash envelopes can be a lot and it can get overwhelming and confusing. You have to have all of these envelopes and all this cash on you at all times. You have envelopes for groceries, eating out, paying bills. If you don’t want to keep the cash on you at all times, you can leave your envelopes at home. But, if you leave them at home, when you’re out and about, you could end up needing it but you won’t have access to that particular envelope at that time. That’s a little inconvenient.

It can also be a bit dangerous to keep that much money on you. What if you lose it or it’s stolen?

a cash envelope

Additionally, it takes more time. You have to go to the bank and take out a specific amount of cash. You might want specific dollar denominations so you need to have the teller take care of that for you. Then you have to take all of that cash and divide it into all of the envelopes. It’s a completely manual process and it’s time consuming. 

Cash envelopes can also be tricky if you have more than one family member who needs to spend from the same envelope. How will you handle that? Will you both take money from the envelope or will one person take the envelope and the other take some money? What if you end up not having the right amount of money? This process can just be a bit inconvenient. 

What I Use Instead.

My family uses a quick and simple app called, YNAB. YNAB stands for You Need A Budget and it’s personal budgeting software available for Windows, Mac, and iOS. What I love about YNAB is that it’s super simple for me to divide and budget our funds into different categories. Then my husband and I can see what we have left to spend by simply looking at the app on our phone. 

In the app, we set categories for all of our monthly expenses. When you add your budgeted amount to each category, it is automatically deducted from our monthly total. This might seem like a lot of work, but it’s really so quick and easy. Each month, it only takes me a matter of seconds to update our budgeted amount for each category, as opposed to all of the time it would take with cash envelopes. 

Best yet, it updates instantly on all connected devices so my husband and I can both see, at all times, exactly how much money we have left in each category. 

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of a way to budget that is different from using cash envelopes and you can see if, maybe, this is a system that you would prefer. Let me know, which system has worked for you in the past or which system you think would work best for you and your family. 

 

Do you like the idea of  having access to your budget on an app on your phone at all times? I’d love to offer you a done-for-you/done-with-you family budget program! One where I will hand deliver a fully set up and organized YNAB budget plan based on your flow. I’ll work side-by-side with you to develop a routine and process to keep you on top of your family finances once and for all. Schedule a free 15 min call with me! Find out if we’d be a good fit and how I can help make it happen for you!

Practical Steps for Creating Realistic Routines

Practical Steps for Creating Realistic Routines

Pin image for realistic routines.We know that helping our kids develop realistic routines and good habits is high priority. But, knowing we should and actually setting a system in place are two completely different things. 

We want our kids to learn responsibility and accountability so that they can establish positive habits, stick to daily routines and eventually become fully functioning independent adults. It’s okay to know what you want for your kids but not be 100% sure of how to make it a reality. 

Don’t worry, I’m here to help you get on the right path to forming realistic routines with responsible and accountable independent kids! In this post, we’ll talk about why routines are important, how to plan a realistic routine for your family and actually achieve it, and we’ll talk about what tasks or chores are appropriate for your kids at each age. 

Why are routines important?

Routines are important for both individuals and families. For individuals, establishing routines can make you feel more in control and focused. For a family, it can create a calm living atmosphere where everyone contributes for the common good. Everyone knows their role to play, what to do and when to do it. Family members depend on each other and trust that each member will contribute. 

Use a daily planner to help set realistic routines.

Without a set routine, habits just don’t stick. Research shows that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. Imagine how smooth your household will run if you simply take 3 weeks to help your kids establish healthy, responsibility building habits in your home. 

How do you make your dream routine a reality?

  • First, visualize what a well run home looks like to you. This will be different for each family – it’s okay if your well run home is different from mine, it’s all about finding what works for your family. 
  • Ask yourself what needs to change and what needs to happen daily, weekly, and monthly in order for your house to run smoothly. 
  • Consider which of those tasks can be done by each child based on their age, physical abilities, and maturity level. Scroll down to the next section for a list of general age-appropriate tasks.
  • Figure out what motivates your kids. Is it money, gifts, more screen time? Decide what you will use as motivation and what your children will need to do to earn it. 
  • Hold a family meeting where you explain very clearly to your kids what your new routine will look like. Let the kids know what they will need to do, how often, and what they will earn by doing it.
  • Get started. Don’t slack off – remember it takes 21 days to form a habit! Put in the hard work at the beginning and eventually (sooner rather than later) you’ll be able to back off and watch your kids take accountability for their own tasks. 
  • Be patient and flexible but remain consistent. Each week, evaluate how you can support your child and determine if anything could have been done differently or more effectively. 
  • Sit back and watch with pride as your household runs smoothly, your children take responsibility for their chores and take pride in their contributions to the household. Enjoy the peace of mind you now have knowing that your child can stand on his/her own two feet!

Make sure chores are age appropriate for realistic routines

At what age can my kids start to get involved?

A while back, I asked some fellow moms in a mom group what tasks their kids help with or chores they do and what their ages are. The following is a list of age-appropriate chores starting with 2-year-olds. Yes, two is not too early to start with simple tasks and routines around the house! This helps to build responsibility and accountability at an early age.

2-3 Year-olds

  • Put dishes in the sink
  • Put laundry in the hamper
  • Help feed pets
  • Help with sweeping and dusting
  • Put things in the trash can
  • Sort items
  • Help push buttons
  • Put away toys and books

4-5 Year-olds

  • Set the table
  • Help clear the table
  • Straighten their room
  • Help put laundry in the washer
  • Clean up after playing, reading, or crafting 
  • Keep bedroom neat

Make sure chores are age appropriate for realistic routines

6-7 Year-olds

  • Clear the table
  • Switch laundry from the washer to dryer
  • Take laundry out of the dryer
  • Make bed
  • Feed pets
  • Empty dishwasher

8-11 Year-olds

  • Take care of pets
  • Do their own laundry (wash, dry, fold, put away)
  • Load and unload the dishwasher
  • Wash dishes
  • Mop floors
  • Dust
  • Clean baseboards
  • Take out the trash and recycling
  • Vacuum
  • Pull weeds and rake leaves
  • Clean and organize their own bedroom

Are you ready to set realistic routines in your home by implementing a family chore routine in your home but you just don’t know how to get started or get yourself organized? We’ve got you covered! 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.

What is the Life Skills Ladder and How Does it Work?

What is the Life Skills Ladder and How Does it Work?

Pin image for the life skills ladderAs our kids grow up and find their way through life, there are certain life skills that they learn and develop. I like to think of these skills like a ladder. You can’t jump from the first rung to the 5th rung, you need to take it one step at a time. Learning life skills is a lot like that. 

On the life skills ladder, I view the first two steps as “needs”. These are the things kids need to learn before they can move on. These “needs” are at the bottom of the ladder because they are necessary to learn before kids can develop the “wants”. Wants are the good habits that lead to our kids eventually becoming self-sufficient and independent. 

Now, I don’t imagine that kids hop on the ladder and climb up with no problems. It’s more like if you start up the ladder, realize you forgot your paint brush, go back down a few rungs to grab it, take a step back up, then realize you need your tape, go back down, and so on. It’s a constant up and down as kids grow and go through the phases of life. 

The ultimate goal, though, is that our kids will make it to the final rung of the Life Skills Ladder – independence – by the time they enter the world as adults. This is how to get them there. 

two children learn the life skill of doing dishes

What every kid needs to learn:

Responsibility

When introducing life skills to your kids, the first skill that’s needed is responsibility. You can teach your child responsibility through chores, jobs, and pay day. 

Look at your daily life and make a list of things your kids could do each day. Start with simple tasks. You can also look at your week and decide what needs to be done each week. You can assign each task a reward. This would be monetary or something like screen time. 

Assigning certain tasks to your child that have a definite deadline and reward begins to teach them about responsibility.

Accountability

Once your child has taken responsibility for their own tasks and jobs, they are ready to learn about accountability. This is learned through consistency, encouragement, reinforcement, and discipline. 

When your child is learning to be accountable, it’s important to take things slow and be flexible. Check in each week to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work. Determine how things are going and if you could have offered support in a better or different way. This is a process that won’t happen overnight. 

What every parent wants for their kids: 

a college student who has life skills

Habits/Routines

Eventually your child’s new responsibilities and accountability will lead to the establishment of positive habits and routines. This is what you wanted all along. This was the goal!

You’ll notice that your home is more organized, the household is streamlined, and everyone involved has a better grasp of time management. Good habits and routines form slowly, they take time, so don’t rush the process. Over time, as your child takes on more responsibility and accountability, the tasks require less nagging and oversight from you in order for them to be completed. 

This leads to happier kids, less stressed parents, more time for what matters, and a smoothly run household. 

Independence

The final step on the life skills ladder is independence. This step is where your child becomes self-sufficient, empowered, and confident. They have a positive relationship with work and money. In addition, along the way, they’ve learned to be generous with their time and money.

Most importantly, you as a parent have peace of mind knowing that your child or children can stand on their own two feet. 

Not Sure Where to Start?

Are you ready to implement a family chore system in your home but you just don’t know how to get started or get yourself organized? We’ve got you covered! We’ve devised an action plan for establishing a chore system and budget WITH your kids. It walks your kids through the steps of developing responsibility and accountability in order to establish positive habits and routines to become independent. 

You can grab our completely FREE Family Chore and Money System Action Guide, here. You can also hop over to Facebook and watch me walk through how to use it, here. If you’d like even more support, let’s chat about 1:1 coaching and I’ll help you set up a systems and routines that will work for your unique family.⁠⠀

Kids Need Life Skills Now More Than Ever: Self Awareness Skills

Kids Need Life Skills Now More Than Ever: Self Awareness Skills

It was recently brought to my attention just how rare it is to find college age kids and young adults with what I consider to be basic life skills. You know, like being able to balance a checkbook, cook a meal, do laundry, or communicate effectively.

So, over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the life skills our kids are desperately in need of now, more than ever. We began by talking about personal finance skills, moved into cooking and cleaning, and last week, we touched on relationship skills

This week, we’re exploring Self Awareness Skills. You might be thinking – what even are self awareness skills? At first glance, you might think that they are things that shouldn’t have to or need to be taught, but I assure you – they do need teaching!

We’re talking simple skills like knowing how to prioritize tasks, keeping focused, and basic etiquette – plus much more. Without these very necessary skills, our kids will lack the self awareness they need to succeed and prosper in our ever changing society. 

PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS

It is so necessary for our kids to avoid developing a helpless mentality. There’s nothing worse than watching your child whine that they can’t do something – especially when you know, if they just tried, they actually can do it! Kids who whine that they can’t become adults who never developed problem solving skills.

It is up to us as parents to help our kids develop and understand their inner resourcefulness. Kids, and adults for that matter, don’t need to know everything, but, it helps if they have a skill set that allows them to figure things out. And, if they can’t figure something out, we can guide them in discerning how and who to go to for help.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR CALLING, PURPOSE & MISSION

Understanding your higher purpose, your “calling” and what drives you helps set a foundation for everything you do. 

Crafting not only a family mission statement but discussing what a ‘calling’ or ‘gift’ is with each child, will help them to start thinking about who they are and what their purpose, talent and gifts are at an early age.

HOW TO PRIORITIZE AND WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE

We all have to learn how to prioritize the most important things each day, so we can take care of the most necessary (and often the toughest) tasks first. In the ER, doctors and nurses call it triage. It’s being able to assess a situation, size it up and figure out what needs to be tackled first. 

Show your kids how to assess the situation and then do the big, bad, tough things first. Get them under control so you can move forward.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR VALUES

Similar to understanding your mission, understanding your values (and refusing to compromise on them) will give you guidance through any decision. If honesty is one of your values, then next time you’re put in a compromising position you’ll never be tempted to lie—because you know honesty is so important to you. If family communication and connectedness is a top value, then you’ll use that to guide your decisions that affect your kids. 

Teach your children to write out their values and refer to them whenever they’re facing a tough choice. You should do this, as well. Your kids will learn this practice from your example.

HOW TO FOCUS

Kids need Self Awareness skills like focus

This is twofold: first, how to focus on a task when you’re facing a deadline or when you need to get something done; and second, how to focus your direction, your actions and your goals so you’re always in line with your values and holding true to your personal mission.

HOW TO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR

Parents of tweens are aware of the time in their development when kids start to “get it.” Suddenly they can detect subtle tones in conversation, they learn to be sarcastic and yes, sometimes even funny. 

Some adults still struggle with this, but finding the humor in any situation (and even the joy in the toughest ones) will get you far. Humor can help us deal with pain, stress and problems in life, and can help us find the silver lining. That is why this is so important for kids to learn, to help them through difficult situations as well.

BASIC ETIQUETTE

Kids need Self Awareness skills like etiquette

Gone are the days of Emily Post and worrying about being judged for failing to use the proper fork at the dinner table (unless your family is VERY formal). Understanding basic etiquette, however, is still relevant and vital in today’s society. Politeness is about consideration for the feelings of others and making sure you don’t do something that offends or frankly, grosses people out (like chewing with your open – just gross). 

Instilling self awareness skills in our kids may take some more time and energy while our kids are young. Ultimately, focusing on these skills now will bring your entire family the happiness and contentment you want for the future. For more information on how we model self awareness skills and other life skills in our home, check this out

If you’ve enjoyed this series and you’re looking for more support in any of the areas covered, let me know. Send me an email with your questions and let me know what life skills you are focusing on with your kids! Don’t forget to grab our awesome FREE resources for teaching personal finance and cooking, cleaning, and laundry!