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.

3 Big Reasons I Pay My Kids to do Jobs (not chores) Around the House

3 Big Reasons I Pay My Kids to do Jobs (not chores) Around the House

Pin image for 3 Big Reasons I Pay My Kids to do Jobs (not chores) Around the HouseAre you currently paying your kids to take care of certain jobs around the house? Or do you give your children a weekly allowance without requiring them to do anything to earn that money?

A while back I had an idea. I was always buying things for my kids and I thought, why don’t I take that money I was going to spend on them anyway and actually teach them some money lessons instead. Why don’t I pay my kids to do jobs! I love a good teachable moment! 

Of course, my kids have chores that need to be done regularly around the house. Think: making their beds and doing their laundry. I’m not talking about those things. I’m talking about the things that go above and beyond the normal daily household routine, like things that could be taken off my plate. For example: vacuuming the stairs, cleaning the microwave, or dusting the baseboards and shutters. Now, I pay my kids for doing those things.

If you’re wondering why, here are the 3 main reasons I pay my kids for doing these jobs around our house: 

I want to teach them the basics of money management. 

These are things like saving, spending, and giving. These are basic money lessons they are going to need to learn eventually. Why not start earlier on?

So, I’ll ask them what it is that they want to buy and they can slowly work up to saving for that thing. I have them divide the money into those 3 categories. How much do they want to put toward their goal, how much do they want to have available to spend on a treat, and how much do they want to put towards charity or gifts for others. 

Now, this concept of teaching them to save what they’ve earned is really helpful in letting them in on how to budget their pay in the future. It starts them out on those habits but on a smaller scale. It will lead to a healthy relationship with money once they start earning their own income.

What I’ve noticed is that when they are using their own money, they are a bit more conservative with their spending. This tells me that what I’m teaching is really sinking in!

I want them to learn to have a solid work ethic. 

They know this is a job and they know they have to do it well. Just like when they get out into the real world, they need to do their job properly in order to get paid. If they rush through it or don’t do a good job, I have them do it over before paying them. This teaches them the kind of work ethic I want them to have. Life isn’t just about having fun, you need to work hard, too. I always tell my kids: work hard, play harder. 

In our house, the kids do their jobs on Saturday. They have to get their jobs done before they even think about opening their iPad or turning the TV on. 

It’s all about responsibility. 

My kids are each assigned different jobs and they are each responsible for making sure their job gets done and that it gets done well. If they are assigned a job, they need to do it and take ownership of their responsibilities. 

Allowances vs. Jobs

If you are one who gives an allowance to your kids, I highly recommend you switch things up a bit. At the very least, in the verbiage. Think about what the word “allowance” says to your kids as compared to calling it a job and paying them for doing that job. When kids get an allowance, sometimes they feel entitled to the money instead of having to work for it. As adults, we know this isn’t how the real world works. We need to work in order to earn money, we aren’t just given money for existing. (though that would be nice, right?) It’s a tiny shift in language that could make a huge shift in your kids mindset and attitude. 

If you’d like to learn more about budgeting, I’ll be hosting a Happy Family Budgeting Workshop in just a few weeks. Head here for all of the details and to get signed up!

Tricks for Managing Online Distance Learning While Working from Home

Tricks for Managing Online Distance Learning While Working from Home

distance learning pin imageLike many families, we’re facing uncertainty as we approach this new school year. Many schools across the country won’t be immediately reopening for in-person learning. Here in California, we’re gearing up for distance learning. If you had asked me back in the spring, I would have NEVER thought this would be our current situation.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home-mom, work-from-home-mom, or a mom working outside of the home, we all have distance learning challenges. I always try to look at situations from a positive perspective: the cup is half full instead of half empty. I’m trying to remind myself that I can only control what I can control and that I have to make the best of it. But, the truth is, this distance learning thing is HARD.

I know that I have it easier than others since I can work from home. As someone who used to work full time outside of the home, I really sympathize with the parents who need to work outside of their home. That situation is so difficult and I know I am lucky to be able to work from home.

That being said, I (and all of the other work-from-home parents) need to figure out how to work while also managing our children through distance learning. I need to figure out how I can work but also keep my kids on track with their work. 

So what is the best way to survive this and still stay sane?

To get started with setting our plan, I asked 2 important questions:

  1. First, I had to consider what worked and what didn’t work for me and my work back in March and April when distance learning first started. 
  2. Next, I needed to consider my kids and their personalities and learning styles. I asked them what they felt worked well for each of them. 

From asking those questions of myself and my kids, I learned quite a few things. Here are a few of the changes in our home and routines that we’ve made to improve on distance learning this fall. My hope is that these changes will structure and streamline our day to make online distance learning this fall as successful as possible. 

3 Changes We’ve Made to Improve Our Distance Learning Plan for Fall

a young girl participates in distance learning

  1. We upgraded some of our furniture. One of the first things the kids mentioned was that their chairs were so uncomfortable it was hard for them to focus. Now, we have more comfortable chairs. The kids will feel good about sitting in them while they participate in their online sessions. 
  2. We took steps to make Zoom meetings more comfortable in the kids learning space. We made Zoom areas free from background noises, like TVs and radios by providing headphones for everyone in the home. The kids also mentioned being distracted and sometimes embarrassed by having family members walking around in the background while they were in Zoom meetings. I came up with the idea of having them each decorate their own background. I grabbed them each trifolds and they can decorate them on their own.  These give the kids their own personal space. They can also be folded up and put away after school time. 
  3. We’ve set routines. I like structure, it helps me keep flowing. Before distance learning, the kids knew their routine and what was expected of them before heading to school. Now, we’re incorporating these routines and structures in the places where we do have control – like before and after their online sessions begin. We’re going to stay consistent until this new normal becomes a routine. Just like when they go to school, they have a daily timeline they are used to so I’m trying to stick to a similar situation at home. My hope is that they’ll be less likely to interrupt me while working if they are into their set routine and schedule. 

Hopefully these ideas are helpful for you in setting up your schedule and work spaces at home for distance learning. If your family needs support setting routines and systems in your home, you can check out more of my posts on the topic right here. I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for how your family is planning for smooth distance learning this fall.

3 Signs Your Family Needs a Morning Routine

3 Signs Your Family Needs a Morning Routine

pin image for 3 signs your family needs a morning routineHow do your mornings feel? Do you wake up relaxed and ready to take on the day? No? I didn’t think so.

Let’s get to the bottom of this. Have you ever asked yourself why? Why don’t your mornings feel good? Why don’t your mornings run smoothly? And why don’t you have time to enjoy your breakfast, fit in a workout, or chat calmly with your kids? 

I think I know the answer. Are you ready for it? I think it’s because your family doesn’t have a strong morning routine. Or if you do, I bet you don’t stick to it. 

Are you unsure as to if your family needs a morning routine? Let me help you out…

Here are 3 Signs Your Family Needs a Smooth Morning Routine

You Can’t Stop Yelling

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Woke up on the wrong side of the bed.” But, how often do you feel that way? I’m talking waking up super irritable, snapping at your partner and kids, and walking around your house yelling.

You yell to get your kids out of bed, you yell to get your kids to eat more quickly, you yell to get the kids out the door. So. Much. Yelling. No wonder you woke up grumpy – I’d be grumpy, too if I knew that’s what I had to look forward to. 

You and/or Your Kids Can’t Find Things or Leave Important Things at Home

Picture this, you pull up to the school and the kids are ready to pile out of your car when one of them realizes they never grabbed their lunch. Or how about this, you arrive home after school drop off to find your child’s homework on the kitchen counter. Or, you pull up to the office after you drop the kids off, go to hop out of the car and realize you completely forgot your laptop. 

Do these scenarios happen often? Maybe more often than you’re proud to admit? If you’re nodding YES – you need a morning routine. 

a calm breakfast during a morning routine

Once You Drop Your Kids Off, You Need Time to Calm Down

Now, how long does it take you to bounce back after morning drop-off? You know, how much time passes before your heart rate returns to normal and you can get your brain focused on what you need to do that day? 5 minutes? Maybe longer?

Do you need to do something to separate your mind and your day from all of that morning chaos? Like go for a walk, workout, take a shower, or just close your eyes and count to 10?

If you’ve got a morning routine that is working, you won’t need time to decompress before jumping into your day. 

What We Did to Tame Our Morning Mania

I’m proud to say that my family has a functional and smooth morning routine. But, it wasn’t always that way. I used to spend my mornings yelling at the kids and forgetting things at the house. By the time we were all set, I felt drained. And it wasn’t even 8 AM yet! 

We knew we couldn’t keep going like we were. Something needed to change. So, we enlisted the help of a professional. That help came in the form of a survival guide from Positive Parenting Solutions called Taming Morning Mania

This survival guide equipped us with five simple and practical tools we needed to get our mornings under control. We got to the root of what was causing the chaos in our mornings and we were able to develop a functional morning routine that was unique to our family’s schedule and needs. 

getting ready to leave the house for school dyring a calm morning routine

What Our Routine Looks Like Now

Now, I’m proud to say our morning runs super smoothly. No yelling, no forgetting things, no feeling drained before the day even begins. We made a few simple changes to our routine, thanks to the Taming Morning Mania survival guide we got from our friends at Positive Parenting Solutions

We implemented 3 big changes in our mornings. Now, we make decisions the night before, we put our kids in charge of their own wake-up, and we established a backpack ready zone in our living room. If you’d like the full scoop on what our morning routine looks like and how it works for us, check out this blog post.

If you’d like support setting up your own family morning routine, let’s chat about 1:1 coaching and I’ll help you set up systems and routines that will work for your unique family. Looking for more info on the Taming Morning Mania program through Positive Parenting Solutions? Check this out!

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.