15 Tips Moms Need to Know for a Smooth School Day Morning

School day mornings can be rushed, hectic and all around just plain crazy. Here are some tips, with the help of my blogger friends, to get us out the door and on time to school and work all while keeping our sanity in check. You might even find the mornings can be calm!

  1. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes.  Yes that extra 15 minutes of sleep sounds SO luxurious, but the morning will be so much smoother if you give yourself more time then you think you need to get everyone ready.  Pad yourself for those inevitable mishaps.
  2. Take 5 just for yourself. Sit for 5 minutes sipping your coffee and flipping through a magazine before your day gets into full gear.  Mediate, read, or sit on your front patio to breathe in the fresh air.  “I would take 10 minutes before kids get up to meditate….It gives me peace and calm to carry on through the morning and the rest of the day.”  Nirvanama recalls.  Whatever your relaxation take five minutes to start your morning out on a calm note.
  3. Prep the night before. Lay out clothes and hair supplies, start lunches, check backpacks, line up shoes and prep as much as you can the night before.
  4. Keep your car stocked with essentials so if you forget something you have your survival kit in your car so you don’t have to go without or go back home. Survival kit ideas: extra water, change of clothes, workout clothes, and healthy snacks like nuts, granola bars, and tuna.  Other items to include in your car survival kit: deodorant, basic make-up, mints, toothbrush and a comb.
  5. Stay Calm. When a field trip form needs to be signed last-minute, “crazy hat” day at school is just remembered or milk is spilled STAY CALM.  Yes, this is hard when we already feel rushed, but you know not staying calm ultimately leads to more of a delay.  This is the exact reason we are giving ourselves that extra 15 each morning.  “It’s amazing how a non-stressed Mom can have a calming effect on our kids-same goes for that crazy stressed Mom.”  Lori says.
  6. Tackle Tantrums like a Pro. Those extra 15 minutes….they will come in handy for this tip.  Here are few tips to tackle those tantrums:

Acknowledge the feeling/behavior: “you sound very mad right now that we have to leave for daycare.” “It is ok to feel mad.” “We still have to leave in 2 minutes.”

Talk simply, firmly and kindly. “I understand that you want to stay home and play, but we are leaving in 1 minute.”

Above all else stay calm as anything other than calmness will transfer to the kid(s).

Positive Reinforcement (see next tip). And give 5, 3 and 1 minute warnings that it is almost time to leave.

Provide choices. “Do you want to wear this read shirt or this green shirt?” “Do you want to bring monkey or bear for the car ride?” Let the child take ownership in getting out of the house and to the car. Examples: help Mommy lock the door, carry your water bottle, or push the garage opener.

Great Resource: The Happiest Toddler on the Block.”   There are many great tips in this book.  One tip that I have tried with my 3 year old that works about half the time is to repeat back to him exactly what he said in a silly voice (but kind voice).  “I don’t want to go. Don’t want to go! Don’t want to go!”   This generally calms the tantrum and then you can repeat in a calm voice (when he is calm too) “we have to leave for daycare now so that you are on time and so is Mommy.”     Don’t give into tantrums!

    7.   Positive Reinforcement.   Pointing out great behavior is a very powerful form of positive reinforcement.  “Bella, great job getting yourself dressed this morning.”  “Nathan, wonderful job sharing your kindle with sister.”  Our life in 3D  states“…..documenting their accomplishments or lack there of on the color ‘clip Up’ chart.  The girls have gotten into a bit of competition to see who can clip-up for good behavior.”

8.   Use the TV or other electronics.  If one kiddo is ready to go the TV, Kindle or computer is a great tool to engage the “ready” kid while you get your other kiddos finished up and the car packed up.

9.    Quick Breakfast Foods.  You should always have some grab and go morning food in your pantry in case a sit down breakfast is not in the plan for a particular morning or ever for that matter.

10.  Get yourself ready first.  Get yourself showered, dressed, fed and totally ready before the kiddos wake up and see how much smoother the morning goes.  The few days I have hit the snooze button and gotten myself ready with the kids…..chaos.

11.   Organize.  Backpacks, shoes and anything that goes out the door in the morning should be organized by the door.  Create places that shoes, homework, backpacks and coats always go.  You will not waste time looking for these things and an organized morning = a smooth morning.  Great shelf/hook pictured.

School Day Morning Organization

School Day Morning Organization

12.   Fuel yourself with healthy food Moms: How are you fueling your body all day Mom?  Start your day with a healthy, energized punch of veggies and protein that will keep you at your best all day and energize your body for all that you do.

13.   Independent Kids. Kiddos that pick their clothes and accessories the night before are taking ownership in the morning routine.  When they wake up they can put their own clothes on, sit down for breakfast, brush their teeth and then assist in packing their lunch and water bottle in their backpack.  Do a few practice runs on the weekend to get this routine established.  Kiddos can also help make their lunch the night before.

14.   Teamwork. Reinforce the idea that everyone in the family is part of the team.  Have fun and name your team!  Point out good teamwork constantly.  Siblings can help each other as Jean advises “It takes a lot of prep the night before and letting older ones assist where they can.  Everyone has to pitch in.”

15.   Positive Start.   Wake up each child with a big huge and a positive message.  “How are you feeling today?  Are you ready for a great day?  I feel so happy that I get to start my day with you.”

This post contains affiliate links.

Thank you to my blogging friends for your tips and help!

Our Life in 3D

Erika at WorkingMomWarrior

Nirvanama

And Jean and Lori

The mad rush for school supplies and the do’s and don’ts

Have you braved the crowds and bought your school supplies yet? I built up my courage yesterday and hit the overwhelmingly huge Walmart after I failed at finding anything on my kiddo’s lists at the dollar store.

And if you have not made it to the store yet beware as there appears to be a shortage of glue sticks out there (or at least at Walmart).

Do's & Dont's of School Supply Shopping

Do’s & Dont’s of School Supply Shopping

Do order online if it’s affordable and your school offers a site. Mine did but the deadline was about two months ago and I didn’t even want to think about school supplies then. Next year I will!

Don’t do the $ 1.00 store unless you have a secret I don’t know about. I tried one dollar store and they had none of the specifics that the teachers were looking for (such as brands and counts).

Do take a small risk and go off brand if the price is much better and the difference is small. For example the teacher wanted GLAD sandwich bags, but I had a coupon for Ziploc and Walmart had them on sale. So Ziploc bags it was!

Don’t forget the coupons. I almost never use coupons b/c most likely they will be in my beige purse hanging from my closet as I am fishing around my black purse trying to locate said coupons and frustrating everyone behind me in line. Since that’s usually how it goes I just gave up on the whole coupon clipping thing. However Sunday a newspaper mysteriously appeared in my yard (I don’t normally get it) and I clipped a few coupons on a whim and stapled them to my supply list which resulted in an $ 8 savings at Walmart. I was so delighted with this $ 8 savings that I might even start using coupons again!

Do order online from Amazon. I got my glue sticks there, a few other items and was able to add on a 4 ounce bottle of glue for 50 cents.

Don’t take the kids with you if possible.  I used my lunch hour and finding all these exact supplies required my full attention and a huge amount of patience.

Do stock up on items that you would use at home throughout the year.  The prices are so good (50 cent notebooks) that I threw in a few extra for the home.

When chatting with some Moms today I learned that one school was able to get the whole supply list on Amazon for one click ordering. I am asking our school to do that next year. Ah, imagine the ease of school supply shopping that way! But for now don’t wait until the last minute because all the glue sticks might be long gone!

12 Tips on Balancing Motherhood and Career

1.  It’s not perfect.  Here is to letting go of the idea that a perfect balance exists so let’s go easy on ourselves, Mom.  We are doing a good job!  Only we can define what our balance should look like.  Explore options.  While one woman finds her balance in an office 5 days a week another woman may have found her balance by negotiating telecommuting 3 days a week while yet another working Mom finds her balance by working exclusively from home.  Don’t be afraid to explore new options if yours is not working for you.  You always have choices. Here is a great link to Working Mother Magazine Job Offerings.

2.  Create a community of support.  This is a must for Moms and if you are the type that doesn’t like to ask for help this can be tough.   However; we can be even better Moms when we have a community of support (neighbors, family, friends, church, and support groups….do a google search such as Working Single Mom Support) or even paid places such as the YMCA, a trusted child care provider or a dependable babysitter.

3.  Keep work and kids separate or not. Explore what works for you. Throughout the last 7 years I have tried many combinations such as having a child care provider in house while I stayed home and worked, taking my newborn to the office and full-time office work while my kids stayed home with my child care provider.  Different ages of children and different types of careers will provide different possibilities. Be flexible with yourself, try different options and ask for what you need.  Choices are always available to you.

4.  Prioritize.  Moms, we are not superhuman so go easy on yourself here!  Let’s remind ourselves daily that we are doing an awesome job and there is no need to get everything done in one day.  Since it feels like there is never have enough time make a list of your top 3 to 7 priorities and use those priorities to create your own definition of “doing it all.”  Give yourself the freedom to define your meaning of “doing it all.”  In my book “doing it all” means being an inspiring example to my children and doing my best to raise healthy and happy children while providing my kids with choices, structure and guidance.

5.  Get your sleep!  You’re laughing, right?  Mom and sleep are an oxymoron.    But think about the days when you do get a decent night sleep.  How do you feel?  Energized?  Able to reasonably tackle any obstacles that come your way?  Calmer?  Which translates to the kids and the household energy being calmer.  You probably answered yes to all of the above so here are seven pointers on getting your sleep:

*Go to sleep at a consistent time each night.

*Cut out sugar at night.

*Tart cherry juice does wonders to lull you into a sleep (I know it has sugar, but it works)!

*Keep a notebook my your bedside table so if you wake up in the night with a thousand things on your mind you can write them down, let them go and get back to the business of sleep

*Chamomile tea.

*Cut out caffeine in the afternoon (coffee, tea, soda, even chocolate).

*Try reading instead of being stimulated by your tablet.  Likewise if you wake up in the middle of the night try reading instead of lying there frustrated because you cannot fall back asleep.

We all know the kiddos are going to wake us up some nights or most nights.  But if we are getting decent sleep most of the time we will better be able to deal with those wake-ups and our daily life.

6.  Stay energized.    Focus on eating lean meat, fruits and veggies.  I start every day with an energy smoothie which has worked wonders in keeping my energy consistent throughout the day.  Get some exercise, yes it is difficult to fit in, but eventually energy levels increase. A popular way to stay active is to play with the kids outside as it double duties by spending time with the kids while role modeling a healthy lifestyle.

7.  Use resources. Parks, local library, YMCA, and local children events are a few ideas that are either free or a very low cost.  While I try not to mix work and kids (as with three the mix is chaotic) sometimes it is a necessity to meet a deadline.  This is where the library has been a lifesaver.  My kiddos can play in the children’s area while I complete a work assignment at one of the nearby tables.

8.  Outsource & Simplify:  Look at your daily week.  What is eating your time?  Can you outsource that job?  For example my yard is very unruly with a lot of overgrown cactuses and weeds.  I was spending hours a week trying to maintain said yard so I finally found a landscaper.  Since that expense was added I looked at a few ways to cut other bills.  Here are some tips on simplifying to save time.

9.  Efficient at work.  Have you considered talking to your manager about telecommuting once or a few times a week?  Would you save time cutting out that commute at least once a week?  Or could you work through your lunch hour and leave an hour early?  The link in tip 1 offers many resources for flex jobs.

10.  Use ALL of your personal/sick/vacation days. In this article on Huffington Post the author cites that only about 40 % of people polled utilize all of their sick days.  The article also discusses why all the sick days are not used.  If you are sick you will recover faster by staying home, resting and returning when you feel better.  Have you ever used a personal or sick day to just stay home all day, unplug, and do nothing?  Consider it.  Maybe your personal definition of balance calls for you to connect more with your children.  So, can you use a personal day to visit them at school, eat lunch with them or volunteer in their classroom?

11.  Double Duty your lunch hour.  What can you use your lunch hour for to feel more balanced?  A workout?  Lunch with a friend?  Lunch with your husband?  Working through to leave early?  Paying bills?  Reading a book?  Maybe each day looks different as you can listen to your intuition to what is needed for your own personal balance program.  Listen to your gut about what you need and find a way to give it to yourself.

12.  You time.  This goes well beyond Mom getting a pedicure.  This is about taking care of our mental health and well-being.  Children pick up on our feelings, habits and self-care.  How many of us Moms routinely take our kids to the dentist every 6 months, yet we have not gone for years?  How many of us have seen our primary care doctor for a checkup in the past year or 5 years for that matter?  But yet we have taken our kiddos multiple times to the doctor.  We need to take care of ourselves (mental, physical and emotional) as we are prime examples to our kiddos and because we will be better able to negotiate the obstacles and bumps of our daily lives.

I originally posted 9 tips to balance Motherhood & Career on 2/2014, but the remainder of 2014 brought upon a move, lifestyle changes and a divorce. Living life includes making mistakes, changing, growing and continually repeating that process.  And that is ok.

%d bloggers like this: