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.

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.

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.⁠⠀

Say Good Bye To This Momma’s Chaotic Mornings

Say Good Bye To This Momma’s Chaotic Mornings

Are there any moms out there that knows the secret to having the perfect mornings because I can always use as many different tools in my tool belt as possible.  As some of you may already know, a strategy of handling a specific situation will not work every single time so it’s helpful to learn multiple ways.

Being able to send my kids off to school in the mornings with everyone in a happy, positive mood is what I strive for and is what sets the tone for the rest of my day.  

I love the mornings when my kids are smiling, getting along with each other and not bickering at each other every 5 seconds.  When that happens, it usually means I can get them to school on time and we’re not rushing.

It also means this mom is in a much happier mood and allows me to be more mentally ready to tackle all the things on my to do list for the day.  I don’t know about you but when I’m in a good mood, my thoughts are clear and I really do feel like I can take on the world.

These are the kind of mornings that I would like to have more of:

My kids get up on their own, brush their teeth and get dressed without a word.  I hear them laughing and joking around with each other.

They come downstairs and my daughter pours herself a cup of milk and asks her brother if he would like a cup, and continues on to pour a cup for her brother.  They eat breakfast and continue to smile and laugh with one another. They are being so nice to each other. Wait? “Is this really happening,” I think to myself?  

Kid eating breakfast

Image by Hal Gatewood via Unsplash

I make a comment about how wonderful their behavior is and they both just smile and grin from ear to ear because they know they are being good.

So they hold on to that feeling of proudness and take it even a step further by finishing up their food without being reminded.  I don’t hear a peep of snide remarks or bickering at all. I think to myself, “awww, they really do love each other”. 

I haven’t had to break up an argument or nag at them or even raise my voice to get them to calm down.

On the way to school, we’re smiling and laughing.  Singing along to the songs on the radio. We’re ALL in a happy mood.  It’s so amazing. Love those days!

But of course, with kids being kids, most mornings don’t usually look like that.  Not even close.

So what does a typical morning look like for me?  I’ve heard some experts say that it’s not good to rush your kids in the mornings, but how can you not?  They would be piling on the late school slips if there wasn’t some degree of urgency.

Not a morning goes by when I don’t hear my daughter saying to her younger brother, “Stop!!” or “I’m telling mom” or my son having a meltdown because after the 10th time of his sister yelling stop, I had to step in to give him my peace of mind.  

Then comes the morning rush hour where I’m pushing to get lunch packed, jackets on, backpacks on, shoes on, so we can get out the door and be dropped off at school on time.  This typically goes with me saying all of these statements at some point:

“ok you got 10 minutes before we have to leave”.

“Preston, you haven’t even eaten anything on your plate yet!”.

“Put your lunches in your bag and lets get ready to go”.  

“What do you mean you don’t know where your jacket is?”

“Why did you not give me this paper to sign yesterday?”  

“Let’s go, it’s time to go!”

“5 minutes!”

“If you don’t get your shoes on this minute, we are going to be late”

“Come on, let’s go, inside the car”

Days like this, I just want to pull my hair out and in my head, have thoughts of all these different plans that needs to be put into place the very next day because dealing with this every morning is getting oh so tiring.

 

Frustrated mom

Image by composite via Pixaba

Then there are those days where everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong.  You drop your kids off at school only to find out they forgot their lunches and even worse, their shoes!  So you have to drive all the way back home and back to school, and now you’re frustrated because you’re going to be late for work.

Most, if not all moms will agree with me that mornings in their homes are pretty hectic.   People who know me know that I am always trying to find new or different ways to make the daily struggles easier or run more smoothly.  

When I learn about a new process and try it out and it doesn’t work as well, I move on to the next thing.  Which is why I constantly love to hear from other moms who are doing something different that works because there’s a good chance it will work for our family as well.

Over the years, these are some of the processes I have found that helps to move things along in the mornings:  

 

⚪️ I have my kids lay out their clothes the night before so they know exactly what to wear.  

⚪️ Instead of wasting time in the morning trying to figure out what they want to eat for breakfast, I have them decide the night before so that I can wake up and just make it.  

⚪️ I have them pack their bags and leave them near the door so it’s all ready to go.  

⚪️ I’ve used a white board to list out things that needs to be done to help remind them what they should be doing and in what order.  It helps to put them back on track when they deviate. (Although, as long as I can see that they are getting things done, I really don’t care what order it gets done.  But it helps them to be able to refer to something if they need a little reminder).

⚪️ To minimize the sibling quarrels, my daughter wakes up to her alarm 15 minutes earlier than my son so that she can use the restroom first.

⚪️ I buy them their own mouthwash and toothpaste.  This alone has stopped so many silly arguments from occurring.  

⚪️ Once in awhile, they know that if they are fully ready for school ahead of schedule, I’ll pass by the Starbucks and treat them to a hot chocolate at Starbucks.  Yep, sometimes, I do resort to a little bribing and I’m okay with that.

Good day

Image by Alexas_Fotos via Pixabay

It’s not perfect and it doesn’t always go as planned every morning.  But many times, having these routines in place does make the morning run more smoothly, which means I have a better chance at setting a more positive tone for the rest of my day.  

What does your mornings look like?  Share in the comments any tips you have that has worked well for you.  We’d all love to learn about it.

Be Prepared for Crazy Morning Accidents

Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.