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Schedules & Routines

All things related to creating a schedule, developing routines and creating healthy habits for your family, budget and life.

child sleeping with teddy bear, featured image for how to create a bedtime routine for kids that actually works
Schedules & Routines

How to Create A Bedtime Routine That Actually Works

Now that our kids are older and have learned to sleep, a consistent bedtime routine has been key to fewer bedtime battles!

This means our kids know what time they need to be in bed and there are fewer opportunities for them to drag out bedtime. (I won’t say we never have bedtime battles because they are still kids!)

Routines make life easier for children. According to healthychildren.org the best routines for children are those that are consistent. That consistency creates an environment with less chaos and provides a sense of security and confidence for your children.

When kids have routines throughout the day, it’s easier for us parents to redirect them and make sure they eat/sleep/play/help enough.

When it comes to a bedtime, I’ve always been pretty strict about making sure everyone is in bed when they should be. The main reason is no matter what time my kids go to sleep they still seem to wake up at the same time every morning!

For this reason, our routine leading up to bedtime lays the foundation for making sure the kids are in bed at an appropriate time.

Our kids know exactly how the evening goes and there is less opportunity for bedtime battles. That doesn’t mean they don’t try to stay up later from time to time, but often a simple reminder of our routine is enough to stop their arguments.

Our basic bedtime routine is:

  • Showers
  • Bedtime snack
  • Tooth Brushing/Bathroom
  • Stories/Talking
  • Lights Out

For a little context about our routine: I have two kids – a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old. My 5-year-old is asleep between 7:30-7:45 every night and my 8-year-old is in bed by 8:30.

Because of this, our routine is staggered meaning they aren’t brushing their teeth at the same time or having lights out at the same time. It looks something like this:

Time 5 Year Old 8 Year Old
6:15-6:30 Shower Free Time
6:30-7:00 Bedtime Snack/Tooth Brushing Shower
7:00-7:30 Read Books, Sing Songs Bedtime Snack/Tooth Brushing
7:30-8:00 Kisses, tucking in, lights out Time with Daddy/Reading
8:00-8:30 zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Talking/Lights Out

I prefer this  because it gives me the opportunity to have about 30 minutes of one-on-one time with each of the kids before they go to bed.

With my 5-year-old this one-on-one time means reading books and singing songs. She also always needs a drink of water, a back scratch, and 2 kisses under her pillow (in case she misses me in the middle of the night).

Even though this sounds like a lot, by having this exact routine we both know what is coming next and there is little room for a bedtime battle.

For my 8-year-old, this one-on-one time is more just talking. Sometimes it’s chatting about Minecraft or what he did at recess and other times he’ll share with me any anxieties or worries he has. I also will read a guided meditation from our favorite meditation book (read more about our meditation routine for kids).

I treasure this daily one-on-one time with my kids. Now that they are both in school and I’m working full time there are fewer opportunities for me to connect individually with them.

How did I develop this routine? Here are my exact steps for creating a consistent bedtime routine for our school aged kids.

Choosing a Bedtime

I developed our kids routine based on how much sleep I knew the kids needed.

Preschoolers (ages 3-5) should get 10 – 13 hours of sleep a night, while school aged children (ages 6-13) should get anywhere between 9 and 11 hours of sleep.

If your child doesn’t have a regular bedtime or has a later bedtime than you like, start by paying attention to when they go to sleep and wake up time to help you calculate how many hours they sleep a night.

If it’s less than the recommended sleep times for their age, consider adding the extra time, but add it slowly (in 15 minute increments).

Then look at what time your child needs to be up for school. If they need to be up at 6 am, your 4 year old should be in bed by 8 pm to get the minimum of 10 hours of sleep.

How Much Time Between Dinner and Bedtime?

Now that you have your desired bedtime, how much time do you have between dinner and bedtime? Do you eat dinner at 6:30 and want bedtime to be at 7:30?  Figure out what you can fit in that hour.

Also, try and get the most challenging part of bedtime done first. This includes bath time and tooth brushing.

Be flexible and get creative! Maybe feed the kids dinner earlier, or have them get showered and in their pajamas while you get dinner ready.

Choose A Soothing Activity Right For Your Child

What pre bedtime activity will soothe your child the most?

In our house, we don’t do any screen time right before bed, because it seems to rile up the kids rather than relax them.

Instead, we read books, talk, sing songs or do some simple meditations.

The best advice I can give you is to let your child guide you in what they want this activity to look like. Offer them some choices and let them decide!

Some days it might be reading books and other days that might be telling stories. And that’s ok. The consistency comes from the time you dedicate to that activity.

Getting Your Child Used To A New Bedtime Routine

Talk to your child about the new routine. Talk about the new bedtime and what time you expect them to begin the bedtime routine.

The most important thing to remember is not to get frustrated. Any change in routine takes time for both parents and children to get used to.

If it’s a big change between their usual bedtime and their new bedtime, you’ll need to slowly adjust their bedtime. Don’t just assume they will go to sleep at 8 when they have been used to going to sleep at 10. Instead, start lights out 15 minutes earlier for a few days. Once they are used to that, try 15 more minutes and so on.

 

Creating a clear routine and being consistent in this routine will go a long way in reducing bedtime battles and establishing good sleep habits for your children.

What is your biggest bedtime struggle?

yearly planner and pen
Schedules & Routines

Best Planners for Moms 2019

Are you looking for a planner to help you maximize your time, increase your productivity, and just keep track of family life?

As moms, there are so many moving parts to our day. Between the kids’ school activities (read: pajama day, food drive, and school performances) and your own day-to-day tasks if you don’t have a planner to keep you organized you are bound to drop the ball at some point.

Mange your time better with these amazing planners! These planners and organizers are the BEST of the best out there and will help you keep everything and everyone on track! #planners2019 #plannersandorganizers #bestplanners

Before I share my list, I want to say I am a total planner snob. I started investing in good paper planners about 8 years ago when I realized the $10 Target planners were just not cutting it.

I use a combination of paper and digital planner.

Cozi is a digital family organizing calendar and I absolutely love it. I can share the calendar with my husband and I get lots of reminders and alerts.

As awesome as it is, I prefer a paper calendar where I can jot down notes, check things off my list (feels so good!) and do more in-depth planning and goal setting.

This list includes planners that are not only super functional but they are also beautiful. They are what planner dreams are made of.

Passion Planner

I love the passion planner. This planner is laid out in such a way that you can organize both your personal and professional life.

There is lots of space for goal setting and reflection at the end of each month. It’s super high quality and the binding never breaks. You also have the choice between a Sunday Start or a Monday Start.

Order Here

Mom Agenda

These planners are designed especially with moms in mind (hence the name).

The desktop planner is my favorite. The weekly view is uniquely organized to include individualized spaces for up to 4 kids.

This makes keeping track of everyone’s activities super easy. It also includes a monthly view. Check out their free printable section for more tools to help you get organized.


Take 10% off all orders of $65+ at momAgenda.com! Code: MOM10OFF65 Offer Expires 4/30

Commit30

This is more than just a planner. In addition to weekly and monthly views, this planner includes space for a yearly vision board and is designed to help you create and focus on 30 day challenges.

Each month you create a new challenge to help you focus your intentions. There is also 40+ blank pages for doodling, dreaming, or note taking.

The 360 degree planner is completely customizable so you get exactly what you want. You get to choose your layout and cover.
Commit30 Planner - Pre-Order Now and Save.

Daily Greatness

Daily greatness has a planner for every person – gratitude planner, business planner, yoga planner and parenting planner.

The parenting planner is designed to keep your family organized and to set you up for success as a parent. The planner is undated making it easy to start at anytime. It also includes a self care goal planning system and daily gratitude journal.
BUY NOW!

Planner Accessories

Planner accessories are a great way to keep your planner looking beautiful while still marking it up and keeping track of all the things.


Life Planner Stickers Set. Monthly, Weekly & Daily Planner Stickers 20 Sheets Set of 1,000+ stickers for women


Essentials Weekly Planner Stickers (Set of 575 Stickers)


Me & My Big Ideas MAGC-15 The Happy Planner Magnet Bookmarks, Rose Gold


bloom daily planners Assorted Magnetic Bookmarks, 3 Pack Planner Bookmarks

 

Ready to get organized and manage your time better? Check out the best planners for moms! #planner #getorganized #bestplannersformoms

christmas lights
Schedules & Routines

The 2018 Christmas Planner

Once Halloween is over I feel like it’s time to hit the ground running and start getting organized for Christmas.

It’s time to finalize the Christmas budget and start making my list and checking it twice!

To be honest, I’m planning for Christmas all year round. I make sure each pay period we put some money aside for Christmas so we don’t run the risk of over extending ourselves during the holidays.

I like to keep the holidays simple, but even so, there are lots of things to do and keep track of. Shopping, meals, decorations, cleaning and more.

christmas planner | get organized for the holidays

In order to stay more organized this year, I decided to create my own set of Christmas planning sheets and I’m sharing them all with you!

The 2018 Christmas Planner is your go to tool for Christmas and includes:

Shopping lists

Christmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffer lists allow you to create your shopping lists and track your spending. Also included is the Christmas sales tracker so you can stay on top of all the best deals on Christmas gifts!

Christmas Card List

Create a list of Christmas cards you need to send out and track your progress.

Christmas Dinner Menu

Plan out your entire Christmas meal and create your grocery shopping list!

To Do Lists

Keep track of all your to do’s with individual lists for 3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week, and 1 day before Christmas. Also, included is a master calendar for December.

 

This planner is the busy moms guide to staying organized during what often is one of the most stressful times of the year.

Sign up now to get your 2018 Christmas Planner for FREE!

Bonus! Find out more about how to have a Festive and Frugal Christmas this year.

after school routine for kids
Schedules & Routines

How We Changed Our After School Routine

Is your after school routine not working for you? Do you ever feel like after school is the hardest part of your day?

This was absolutely true for our family.

Everyone came home overwhelmed and exhausted and there was still so much left in our day. Between dinner, homework and showers things got very chaotic.

When my kids started school I had visions of happy children coming home and sharing wonderful stories about their day while we packed away our lunch boxes and backpacks and sat down to a healthy snack while they did their homework.

In the early days, I tried oh so hard to make that vision a reality, but most days I was met mostly with grunts, sidelong glances, and even a meltdown or two.

I have realized over time that this picturesque after school routine just did not work for our family. While we still need a routine in order to accomplish everything that needs to get done after school, it needs to be less a routine and more a flow. Some days the kids come home and need a cuddle and quiet time. Other times, they need to get outside and run around.

Knowing this, I’ve developed some strategies that quell the chaos, provide flexibility to meet our children’s needs on that particular day, and still allows us to get everything done.

Related: 7 Simple Rules For A Great Morning Routine. 

The changes I made to our after school routine have resulted in happier kids and more relaxed parents. Here are the changes I made to our after school routine.

Don’t ask too many questions

When the kids first started school and came home, right away I would ask them all sorts of questions about their day. (Apparently, I miss them quite a bit while they are at school and I wanted to know everything they did while we were apart.)

Turns out, the kids are usually not really ready to talk about their day. They need quite a bit of time to decompress and process what happened at school that day.

Now, I simply ask “How was your day?” I usually get an “It was good” and that’s it. But it’s fine, because as they process their day they begin to share tidbits and stories. By bedtime I have a full picture of what happened at school that day.

This after school routine is sure to make your kids happier. No more after school meltdowns and plenty of time for the kids to unwind and still get all the things done #routinesforkids #parentinghacks #afterschoolroutineforkids #afterschoolroutinetips

Free time

Once we are home and everyone has made it inside, we have free time. This is a time where the kids can choose what they want to play.

This free time also involves me actively spending time with them while they do their chosen activity. Even if it is just 20 minutes before I begin my dinner prep, this time is so important for our kids. When I spend this time with them, they are more likely to allow me the space I need in order to start my evening routine (cooking, cleaning etc).

Related: 20 Indoor Activities for Kids

Free time includes:
Sitting together and reading out loud
Outside play time
Board Games
Coloring
Legos

We don’t do tv or computers right after school. I have found that this does not help them decompress and they still crave that quality time with me after the screens shut off.

Early Dinner

Our kids still have an afternoon snack at school, usually about 45 minutes before they get home. I don’t normally give them a snack unless they are hangry or missed snack at school that day. If they have a snack it is usually something small like a yogurt or a piece of fruit.

Instead, I have dinner ready early and we are sometimes sitting down at the table at 4:30 to eat.

Early on, I was pushing a snack when the kids got home as the first part of our after school routine. Then they would end up not wanting to eat dinner. So instead, I keep the snack small or non-existent and instead serve them dinner early. They eat a much better dinner this way (and complain less about the broccoli or other offending vegetable on their plate).

This is even more helpful when the kids have after school activities and they don’t get home until 4:30 or 5.

So how do I get dinner done early? Well, a couple of ways.

  1. Meal planning. I know exactly what I am having on which day so I don’t have to waste time figuring out what’s for dinner.
  2. The crockpot and instapot are our friends.
  3. I only make quick 30 minute meals during the week. Check out some of my favorites here.

Side note: as part of our dinner time routine, I always ask the kids to tell me the best thing and the worst thing that happened at school. They are always happy to talk at dinner 🙂

Homework

After dinner, the kids get about another 20 minutes or so of free play time while I clean up the kitchen and pack lunches.

Then it is time to start homework.

The little one doesn’t have homework yet but we do 20 minutes of reading with her right before bedtime. She will usually spend time with daddy or do her own “homework” while my son works on his homework.

I have found doing homework after dinner is the key to the kids being successful. The kids are well fed and they have had time to relax and decompress from the day. Moving homework towards the end of our after school routine has made a tremendous difference.

Related: How To Create a Bedtime Routine With Less Battles

We round out our evening with showers and a little bit of tv time before everyone reads and goes to bed.

 

Tell me what your after school routine looks like. What’s something unique that works for your family?

how we changed our after school rou

how we changed our after school routine | parenting tips

best apps to get organized
Schedules & Routines

The 5 Best Apps That Will Get You Organized

There are so many mobile apps out there that help you get organized that you almost need an app to organize all your organizing apps. Say that 10 times fast.

There are a few good ones and a lot of not so good ones. So how do you know which ones are the best mobile apps for organizing your life?

Lucky for you, I have already gone through many of them searching for THE tool that will solve all my first world problems. And I am sharing my list of the best mobile apps for organizing various aspects of your life.

Related: 7 Time Management Tips For Moms

Cozi

Friends, this is an all in one family organizing suite. Not only does it include a calendar to keep track of all your events, but it also includes:

  • A Shopping List
  • To Do Lists
  • Recipes and Meal Planners
  • Family Journal (take pictures, record your thoughts, share them with anyone)

I love the fact that I don’t have to go to five different apps to do all these things. I have my meal plan right next to my shopping list, and my to do list with my calendar.

Even better, my husband has access to it and you can sync your other calendars. We are able to maintain one master calendar.

Personally, my favorite feature is the weekly email with all my upcoming events. This is so useful when I sit down on Sundays for my weekly planning session.

If you still prefer a paper calendar, Cozi has you covered. You can print your calendar!

The best part is, this app is free. *drops mic* There is a premium version called “Cozi Gold” that has even more features (if you can believe it).

Try the Cozi Family Organizer today. It’s FREE!

 

best apps to get organized

Google Calendar

I’m going to be real with you and just say I love all things Google. The calendar is so simple to use and it is a great way to start organizing all your tasks.

I love Google calendar because you can sync it to other calendars (like Microsoft Outlook). With Google calendar you can create different calendars for different people (read: kids) and display them all on one calendar.

The color coding for the individual calendars was one of my favorite features, but they recently changed this. In the past, each event was highlighted in the color of the calendar, and now it’s just a small colored dot next to the event. I find it a bit trickier to see the color coding, but I’m also getting older.

Even without the color coding, Google Calendar is awesome and I recommend it to anyone who wants a free and really simple calendar tool.

Remember the Milk

I have tried a lot of to do list apps in my time and I never really liked any. This one, however, is so simple to use yet provides a lot of functionality that the others don’t. Here are a few of my favorite features.

  • You can have multiple to do lists.
  • You can add an item and then assign it to a list.
  • You can add priorities to each task (high, medium, low and none)
  • You can add a time estimate for each task on your list.

My favorite feature of all is the daily notification. You get a notification on your phone with your daily tasks that you can easily check off as you finish things up during the day.

Every Dollar

This is a great budgeting and money tracking app! I prefer this app over budgeting apps like Mint. Once you get signed up, which is super easy and free, you can easily create your budget. This is a great tool for anyone that is:

  • New to budgeting
  • Wants easy access  to their budget on a phone or pad
  • Doesn’t want to use a spreadsheet

Basically, you begin by adding your income and then listing your expenses for the month. There are 8 standard expense categories but you can add custom categories as well.  You enter your planned expenditures and then as you spend you can track your remaining balance. You can also connect your credit card accounts and bank accounts to make it even easier to keep track of your monthly budget(this is part of the premium option). 

There is also a little graphic that shows you what percent of your income each category occupies. This goes a long way in helping you to asses your spending!

Read more about creating a budget and managing your finances.

Keepy

Are you blessed with (read:drowning in) your kids artwork all around the house? Do you feel guilty about throwing things out or worried you should keep them? Well Keepy has you covered!

This app allows you to take pictures of your child’s art work and store and share that art work with grandparents and other “fans” (people you add to your app).  You and their fans can add text, voice or video comments to art work. My kids especially love this feature.

This is a great way to get rid of some of the clutter without feeling guilty and having someone ask where their picture is. My kids love seeing their artwork in the app and will scroll through, read or listen to the comments and talk about their art work.

Related – 5 Best Planners for Moms

Check out these 5 apps and you will be on the road to creating better routines, organizing your days, and simplifying your life! Let me know your favorite!

 

best apps to get organized | best apps for moms to get organized

7 simple steps for a great morning routine
Schedules & Routines

7 Simple Rules For A Great Morning Routine

Getting out of the house in the morning with kids without being frazzled and totally stressed out sometimes feels like mission impossible.

So friends, to help you out, I’ve put together a list of 7 simple rules to create a morning routine that stops the chaos. Some of these tips are to help you feel your best, while others are practical time management tips.

Rule #1 Wake Up Before Everyone Else

This is a big one. How much earlier you wake up will depend on what you want to use this time for. You can use this time to meditate, do some stretching, journal, exercise or just drink your first cup of coffee while it’s still hot. The one thing you should not use this time for is to get on your phone (see rule #3). This is your time and you should use it to set the tone for your day.

I wake up 20 minutes before everyone else. These 20 minutes give me time to get dressed, put on a little bit of makeup and fully wake up before the flurry of demands begin. Does someone wake up before me? Sometimes. When they do, I just incorporate them into my routine, even if this means letting my 4 year old brush my hair. 

Rule #2 Shower At Night

Friends, I love to shower. The shower is my happy place. However, when I used to shower in the mornings, that happy place did not always end up happy. Actually,  99% of the time it was interrupted by at least one little person pressed up against the shower door needing something.

For the first couple years of my first born’s life, I showered when I could. This meant either during nap time or when I could set him down to take the 3 minute shower I was used to. I never considered showering at night because a) I was too tired and b) I thought my hair would be worse off the next day.

Once I had our second baby, it became much harder to shower during the day. Most of the time I had to throw on some dry shampoo and hope for the best because a shower was just not happening.  I hated dropping my son off at school looking a wreck and it totally tanked my mood.

So I experimented with taking a night time shower. When I did, the clouds parted and the angels sang. I had 10 minutes of uninterrupted time. I could actually shave properly. The next day I didn’t have to squeeze it in and I could leave the house knowing I was fresh and clean (and my hair wasn’t so bad). It was an immediate mood changer for me and made my days feel a lot less stressful.

Showering at night also frees up time in the morning and let’s me sleep later. I call that a win-win!

Rule #3 Don’t Check Your Phone

There are lots of reasons why we shouldn’t look at our phones first thing in the morning, but the main reason is because our phones are a source of stress. According to recent research, all those notifications that have come through while you were sleeping trigger a sense of what you have missed and what you need to get done. This can have a major impact on your mood for the whole day.

Specifically, by staying off social media in the morning you won’t start the comparison game or let someone else’s “awesome” updates give you a major case of FOMO.

I challenge you to stop yourself when you reach for the phone first thing in the morning. Try this for a week and I bet you will see a difference.

Related: The Secret To a Successful Week

morning routine for moms | tips to have a stress free morning | start your day right with this simple morning routine

Rule #4 Hydrate

Don’t roll your eyes. We all know we need to drink more water. I am chronically bad at getting in my eight glasses of water a day.

Hydrating in the morning is incredibly beneficial to your digestion, liver and overall well being. When I don’t hydrate in the morning, I feel sluggish and grumpy by midday and I have a hard time catching up on my water intake. You can read all about the benefits of drinking water in the morning here.

Drink a big glass of water before you eat anything to boost your metabolism and help you re-hydrate from the night before. You’ll feel better all day long, trust me.

Rule #5 Keep Breakfast Simple and Healthy

This is another one we all know we should do but we might not be great at. But eating a healthy breakfast has been shown to improve your concentration and performance throughout the day.  

If you struggle to eat a healthy breakfast, here are some quick and easy (and kid friendly) options:

  • Whole Wheat Waffles with Orange Slices (make a huge batch on the weekend!)
  • Oatmeal with Bananas (quick oats are your friend)
  • Avocado Toast with Fruit
  • Hard Boiled Eggs with Toast and Fruit
  • Egg Muffin Cups – Check out this list of Egg Muffin Cups Recipes

Many of these options can be made ahead of time, either on the weekends or the evening before. Having a healthy breakfast planned and made ahead of time will make the morning rush not so rushed.

Just remember: Not all breakfasts are created equal! Keep it simple with whole foods and you will feel your best!

Rule #6 Pack Up The Night Before

In the evenings, I help the kids pack their backpacks for the next day. Then we put their backpacks and shoes in the hallway ready for the morning. P.S. If you have a mudroom a) I am jealous and b) can I move in?

Anyway, having backpacks packed and shoes right next to them, makes leaving the house in the morning 1000% times easier. Gone are the mornings where we are looking for a sneaker or picking what to bring to show and tell.

You can also pack lunches in the evenings. Keep lunches super simple. I use these partitioned lunch containers: Ziploc Container, Divided Rectangle, 2-Count(Pack of 2).

I rotate the sandwich types (ham and cheese, turkey and cheese etc) and the smaller sections are usually a fruit and some kind of other protein (cheese, hard boiled egg, yogurt). Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make a gourmet lunch for the kids every day. If you include simple (healthy) foods, it makes packing them very easy and much less stressful.

Having all this done the night before takes me about 20 minutes, but that is 20 minutes I do not have in the morning.

Rule #7 Always give yourself wiggle room

My kids move like molasses in the morning and they need some space between the time they wake up to when they can actually start their morning. Not rushing puts them in a better mood and they are more willing to get through the morning routine without having a major breakdown.

Knowing you have some wiggle room will also allow you to be calmer. Some mornings go much smoother than others and we are actually ready before we need to leave the house. Other times, that extra time is filled with an impromptu dance show or clean up from a major spill at the breakfast table.

 

Here is a look at my morning routine, just so you can get a sense of how I have implemented these 7 steps:

6:45 – Wake Up, Get Dressed, Put on Makeup

7:00 – Hydrate

7:05 – Wake kids up if they aren’t up already

7:15 – Get breakfast ready

7:25 – Get everybody to the breakfast table and eat!

7:45 – Get the kids dressed

7:55 – Hair Brushing/Tooth Brushing and Shoes

8:05 – Out the door (we actually don’t have to leave until 8:10 to be at school on time, and we usually end up leaving between 8:05-8:10).

Take these 7 simple rules and make them your own.  Remember: the morning sets the tone for the entire day and a morning routine will get you started on the right foot.

Looking for some simple ways to get you organized in all areas of your life? Check out my favorite 5 apps to get organized!

 

Morning Routine for Moms | 7 Simple Rules for a Smooth Morning
Morning Routine for Moms | 7 Simple Rules for a Smooth Morning
Morning Routine for Moms | 7 Simple Rules for a Smooth Morning
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Check out these awesome tips for moms to help with their morning routine! This morning routine for moms helps you to be more productive, take time for self care, and build a strong routine for you and your kids! Great tips for morning routines before work!