1 // How to Be More Present and Peaceful in the Morning
Get up before the kids. I love this strategy. This always makes a HUGE difference for me. Sometimes mamas get up 1-2 hours before their kids, and I love it when I have seasons of being able to do that, but even getting up FIVE minutes before your children can be that perfect baby step that jumpstarts your day and gets you moving in a positive direction. I’ve found that even having the chance to just splash water on my face and “be vertical” for a few minutes matters. Rising and collecting my thoughts before I hear the littles crying or calling for Mama helps me feel more emotionally prepared for parenting that day!
2 // Use Fun Songs and Phrases to Have a Smoother Day!
Make up little songs/phrases to go along with daily tasks and routines! This definitely comes from the former elementary teacher in me! 🙂 Children respond so well to repetition and music. And the sooner we as moms can help our children know the expectations of a routine or task, the better the day will run for all of us!
It’s like a jingle you know from a commercial you’ve seen; you’re basically making up mini jingles for random parts of your day! It may sound silly, but these get woven into the fabric of each day and help things run more smoothly. I grew up with a little song that went, “Wood against wood says ouch!” and that was just a really effective way for my mom (who is such an intentional mother!) to teach us that we shouldn’t slam our dining chairs into the table after meals. Of course, my mom could’ve said, “Don’t hit your chair into the table!” but the mini-song strategy was way more effective (and positive) for us as young children.
If you’re not a naturally “singy” person, that’s okay! Don’t adopt a “mom personality” that’s not true to who you are. But a good old-fashioned chant can go a long way, too. 🙂 For example, back when Sophie (my 4-year-old) was a baby, I started saying the phrase to her, “When we rest, we feel our best!” and that’s become part of our “moving toward naptime” part of the day. We all feel our best when we rest, and I think it’s an important general life skill to realize that from a young age! It helps curb naptime whining or the “why do I have to go upstairs?” sadness.
Another phrase we do every single day is chanting “Shoes off, coats off, wash hands!” the second we enter the house after an errand or outing. The kids do so well with this, because it’s such an easy way to know Mama’s expectations! And then we can quickly get on with the rest of our day once we complete that little grouping of tasks.
3 // Why Have Routines?
Why should we have routines anyway? In this video, I’m getting into the reasons why routines are such a good idea!
4 // Clean Up While the Kids Are Awake!
Clean up WHILE the kids are awake!
This was life changing for me. Until Sophie was about 12 months old, I would just get caught up in the chaos of eating lunch, food prep, or bedtime routines and I wouldn’t really take charge of getting those daily messes cleaned up…until Sophie was asleep. But then naptime automatically became a ‘watch the clock’ situation of running around tidying and doing dishes with one eye on the clock, all the while wishing I was doing something else before she woke up again. It was a big perspective shift for me to realize I could clean up after meals or tidy up the living room outside of times my daughter was sleeping. The biggest change: Sophie and I got into a wonderful positive routine of having her play independently as I did all the dishes before naptime, and that type of routine has lasted for years since then! We also began to pick up toys together (something you can teach children from a very young age!).
Now that I have three children, my oldest two know that after lunch, Mama will be cleaning up and doing dishes – and they happily play independently. Then we pick up toys and tidy the living room together.
Obviously, cleaning up the house and making it all lovely again can’t always be done while the kids are awake, because life happens – and sometimes you just need to get everyone in bed so you can focus on a task! However, tidying up while the kids are awake is so worth it when you can make it happen.
Two main benefits from this: first, you can teach them to clean (and it helps them realize there’s no magic fairy who comes to clean after they’re asleep). Cleaning up together is kind of an “aha” moment when it comes to kids taking responsibility for toy messes. And second, you get your day back (specifically, naptime and bedtime). I think we often feel pressure as moms that we must make each moment of childhood fun, entertaining, or magical. Much of childhood can feel that way to kids – but that can include life skills! It’s actually a good thing for our kids to see us working hard, scrubbing dishes, picking up scraps of paper on our hands and knees… I think about Ma in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books: she incorporated fun into the hard, necessary work of doing daily chores. Doing the mundane (and the necessary) alongside each other can still be so rewarding! And even little things like having your children help wash dishes can make for some special childhood memories, too. 🙂
5 // Try This Counterintuitive Productivity Tip!
Fight procrastination with…procrastination! What does this mean? If you recognize that you are procrastinating and really don’t want to do that specific task on your to-do list, then give yourself an option of doing a DIFFERENT task *that you have been procrastinating on! Substitute it! Follow through with that second task. Then you will still get that good feeling of getting something important/necessary done, which will in turn help your motivation next time, AND you’ll be tricking yourself into still being productive (and not, for example, scrolling social media as a means of procrastinating).
** Let’s try it. What is something on your list for this week that you’ve been procrastinating on? If it’s not an urgent task, give yourself permission to set it aside for the week. Now, think of something else you’ve been putting off that has been bugging you…and make the commitment to do that today! You’ll feel so much better!!
6 // Getting Ready For the Next Shift
A great strategy is to view your evening routine as ‘closing duties’ that employees would do to get the place ready for the ‘opening shift’ the next morning! (And this sounds funny, since you’re likely both the closing shift and the opening shift! But it still helps a lot to thoughtfully approach it this way!)
BONUS! Printable Bathroom Routine Chart For Littles
Here’s a printable bathroom routine list that we have in our home – perhaps it can be of help to your children, too! While it does have text, I designed it so that the pictures are quite self-explanatory for little ones!
BONUS! Challenge Yourself With Built-in Speedy Clean-Up Sessions!
Challenge yourself with built-in speedy clean-up sessions! What I mean by “built-in”: our lives these days involve a lot of time-oriented machines, like microwaves, ovens, and even clothes washers and dryers. These provide us with natural pockets of time that we can use for productive purposes!
I like to see how much tidying up I can get done in the 2 minutes before the microwave beeps, or (for a longer amount of time) see how much I can pick up in the 10 minutes before the oven is done. If you have a washing machine with a visible timer, that’s another great opportunity to be productive. Challenging yourself “just to see how much I can get done in ___ minutes” can be a super effective way of gaining momentum. Don’t pick a massive task that’ll only discourage you. Find something pretty feasible (like picking up living room toys or wiping down the counters or fridge) and you’ll be pleasantly surprised! Why not get a task done…while getting another task (like cooking) done?
BONUS! Consistent Bedtime
One of the best things we can do for our children (and ourselves!) is to establish and maintain a pretty consistent bedtime! It makes a difference for everyone in the family and it’s healthier to keep it as consistent as you can!