We wanted to kick off another fun mini-series on the blog today. It’s called “Simple Steps”. Simply put, it’s small and easy tips that we have found useful in our own lives to make life just a little easier. And honestly, I will try anything some one suggests to me, trust me! Not only do we have tips to share with you, but these posts in the series are ones that we would love feedback from you all. What has worked for you? PLEASE leave a comment and share your secrets about what works for you.
For our first “Simple Steps” post, we thought it would be best to start with the very beginning of the day….MORNING. I don’t know about you all, but mornings ( around here are wild and chaotic. Three kids waking up. One baby needing to nurse. Three kids needing to eat. Three kids and a mom that needs to get dressed. Two dogs that need to go outside. Laundry to be washed. Dishes to be unloaded. Just thinking about morning makes my mind exhausted. These little bits of advice are simple “tried and tested” tips from us that may help your mornings go just a little more smoother.
1. Honestly, to kick off the morning right, I often have prep the night before. One idea from Courtney is to lay out all your own clothes and the kids’ clothes so you can easily get dressed in those rushed morning hours. Pack lunches the night before. Fill water bottles and put in the refrigerator to stay cold so they are ready to grab and go. Make sure that shoes and backpacks are by the door and ready to go. We have a bin for shoes and our backpacks hang right by the garage door so everything can quickly be grabbed as we are zooming out the door, usually a few minutes later than planned!
2. We usually head down the stairs for our bedrooms and my three year old is immediately demanding breakfast. I have learned with three little ones to keep meal time simple first thing in the morning. I haven’t had my coffee yet and there is no way that I will be flipping homemade pancakes or scrambling eggs every morning for them. We do the 2 Option Meal: Breakfast Meal of the Day OR Cereal. (And when I say Breakfast Meal of the Day, 90% of the time that means frozen pancakes, oatmeal, or bagels BUT there are some occasional times that I am known to actually cook in the morning).
3. Now, after the kids have chosen their meal of the day, I have found that an easy way to get fruits and vegetables in the kids is to start early in the morning. I usually whip up a super simple smoothie with whatever we have on hand (usually frozen berries, yogurt, milk, orange juice, and a handful of greens). It’s easy to do and is a great way to kickstart their day.
4. I also always start the day with unloading the dishwasher (run it over night even if it’s not totally full) while the kids are eating and/or have your kids help. My oldest will often put away the silverware while I do the rest of the dishes. I almost always use the mornings to throw in a load of laundry, start it early with the ambition of doing one load a day. I do one load a dayduring the week just so I can have the weekends off to NOT do laundry. One more thing that makes my weekends just a little more pleasant!
4. Make sure to take a few moments to yourself amidst the chaos. After the breakfast rush of feeding three littles, my kids know that they have about fifteen minutes of playtime ON THEIR OWN! This is my time for a quick cup of coffee and sneaking a few minutes of the Today Show. It just makes me feel a little more sane to have those few peaceful moments.
5. Now it’s time to get the little ones dressed. We go back to the same idea at breakfast, the 2 Option Idea: Two outfits picked by mom, kid can pick one! You can wear a sweater or long sleeve. Jeans or sweatpants. Limit the options, trust me it makes your life easier. Courtney and I have both found that picking out the clothes and bringing it downstairs to the kids while they are still playing makes it really easy. No clothes battles and no changing battles as they are distracted by what they are playing with.
6. This is a tip I learned from my mom and surprisingly it makes my day a little more cheery. Make the beds. Trust me, you will feel better! I always make my bed and the little ones’ beds and my five year old now knows to make his own bed before we leave the house in the morning.
7. Now for my last tip, I LOVE when I wake up early and sneak in some time before the household is awake. I use this time to either work out, catch up on emails, or have a little quiet time. But I have to admit I am not consistent at waking up early because I have a nursing baby and sometimes a mama needs sleep more than sanity! Amen, right? But I recommend trying it out and seeing if it is for you because honestly the days that I do wake up early it makes me appreciate that quiet SO much and I find that I love that time.
8. Now for time-pressed mornings, I recommend having Grab and Go breakfast meals ready to go. Cereal in a bag. Granola or cereal bars. Apples and bananas at reach.
9. Read to your kids during breakfast. After I unload dishes, especially if Abby is still asleep, I often will grab a couple books to read aloud to them. Somedays, the whole day goes by and we hardly have a moment to spend some time in our books. So I have learned to use these times when we are all together in one spot with no one running around to read to them. And they actually eat their breakfast while they are listening so it’s a win-win. Food eaten and stories read!
10. Don’t be afraid to turn on the television. Trust me, there are mornings where I need 20 minutes either to nurse baby, hop in the shower, or get something done first thing in the morning. A little “Paw Patrol” is all we need.
So here’s to some happier, joy-filled mornings.
Or at least a little less chaos and a little more simplicity.