7 Tips for Teaching Gratitude and Thankfulness During the Holidays

What better time to discuss thankfulness and gratitude than during the holidays? With four young ones to raise, I’m constantly worried that I’m raising unappreciative brats! Not that my kids aren’t well-behaved and courteous in public, because they are. But at home, it’s another story. There is a streak of entitlement running rampant and I want to nip that in the bud!

Thankfulness During the Holidays

My mom’s group at church recently discussed how to raise grateful children and it got my wheels turning. Am I doing enough with my four kids to teach them gratitude and thankfulness? And what about good manners? Don’t those go hand in hand? Of course saying, “Thank you” is important, but I think that true gratitude goes beyond good manners. And with the season of giving, there are so many beautiful ways to foster a feeling of gratitude. Here are a few key thoughts I have about teaching gratitude and thankfulness, especially during the holidays.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Age Matters

Naturally I expect the best manners from my teenagers. And of course, my six year old knows how to properly behave…for his age. But I wouldn’t expect the same behavior from my toddler that I do from my kindergartner! Discuss with your partner ahead of time what behaviors you each expect from your children, with consideration for their ages.

This starts with teaching “please” and “thank you” from a young age. If your toddler receives a treat from someone, you can speak on their behalf to offer the “thank you”. Or if they are able to speak, remind them to say it themselves.

Elementary aged children can be expected to offer thanks without prompting. That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes get wrapped up in the moment and forget though! Elementary aged kids do love to give, so make sure they have the opportunity to create something special for someone over the holiday (like a hand-drawn card).

Older children can show their gratitude in larger ways, both verbally and in physical action. Older kids and teens are able to think outside of their own small world and will often come up with their own ideas during the holidays. This may include donating their time volunteering.


2. Laying Out Expectations

Before we head out for a holiday-themed event, I run through my expectations for each child. When kids know what is expected of them, it’s easier for them to know their boundaries. I tailor topics to each specific child, depending upon their age and abilities.

Discussions might include:

  • Encouraging them to remember their manners during a holiday dinner when they are a guest (not wiggling at the table, using a napkin, etc.)
  • Chatting with the adult party hosts for a few minutes to say thank you for the invitation before running off to play.
  • Not whining about what foods they don’t like at the party.
  • Helping to clear their plate.
  • Offering to help the host to clean up.
  • Not asking for seconds of dessert, at least not until everyone else has had a first serving.
  • Saying “Thank you for inviting me” when leaving.

3. “I Want”

I told my mom’s group that I was having some issues with my six year old acting entitled to certain things around our house. Seems like the holidays brings out the sassy attitude even more! And what can we expect, when we ask our kids, “What do you want for Christmas?” With the focus on getting stuff so heavy during the holidays, young children can really get wrapped up in what they “want” and not what they can do for others.

Instead of asking the kids what THEY want to receive for Christmas, I’m twisting things a bit. I’ve been asking them what they think their siblings would like to receive. Instead of focusing on what they’re going to get, I can see that my kids are more excited to be involved in making decisions and helping choose gifts for others. We’re taking it one step further by making gifts instead of buying (easy things, like laminated bookmarks).

4. Role-Playing

What’s more cringe-worthy than a kid who receives a gift and says, “I hate this”. How embarrassing. And of course, hurtful to the person who gave the gift.

In our house, we do a lot of role-playing before parties and gatherings. It’s good practice for kids and a reminder of your expectations. Ideas for role-play is to ask, “What would you say if you received a gift that you didn’t like?” or “What if you received a gift that you already have?”

My son celebrated his sixth birthday recently and we did some role-play on the way to his play date birthday party. I asked him, “What if someone gives you underwear?!” His response was, “Thanks for the undies!”

So yes, the correct and easiest answer is always, “Thank you for the _____!” Even if you don’t like it. Even if you already have it. Even if it’s a weird present. Thank you is always the right comment to make.

5. Volunteer and Give

There are always going to be a lot of ways to volunteer your time during the holidays. Places like churches need extra help in the kid care area, which is usually something that teens can help with. Younger kids can assist with bagging up canned goods in a food bank.

There are also organizations that accept special items for donation during this season. When we donated food to our local food bank, I made sure that my 6 year old knew we were giving and explained where the food was going. He was so excited to tell everyone how many items he’d donated! We also made up boxes for Samaritan’s Purse this year. He helped me choose the items for the two boxes we filled and went with me when we dropped them off. He was able to see how grateful the volunteers were when we came with our donations and they prayed with us over the boxes. It was something he’s not forgotten and I know that it had a big impact on him.

6. Take the Focus Off Stuff

If you sense your kids are too focused on the stuff this holiday season, find ways to move the focus on experiences rather than things. That’s really what the holiday is, spending time with family and making memories. Things like baking and decorating cookies, watching a Christmas movie on TV, walking through the neighborhood to see decorations and singing along to songs on the radio are favorite ways to celebrate without spending a lot!

7. Keep It Simple

Figure out what things are most important to you and your family. From there you can decide what to do and what to skip this holiday. I find that when I try to cram too much good stuff into the season, it becomes not only stressful for me, it’s hard on the kids. And when the kids are having a rough time, it tends to come out in crabby behavior. And then we start to think, “Ungrateful brats!”

Be sure to work in plenty of downtime between holiday celebrations. Pick and choose only what you most love about the holidays and do those things. Don’t feel guilty about skipping over other things. Perhaps you can alternate years? Do what brings you and your family the most joy, incorporating gratefulness and thankfulness about being together!

Fed up with "ungrateful brats" during the holidays? These 7 practical tips can help teach you children about thankfulness during the holidays.


5 Ways to Encourage Your Family Towards Healthier Living

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NatureMadeFamily #CollectiveBias 

Growing up, I was a very active kid. I played soccer, took dance lessons and was always outside playing with friends, roller skating or riding my bike. While I was very active physically, my nutrition was lacking. I was an extremely picky eater as a kid, definitely not taking in what I needed to stay healthy. Now that I’m an adult and have four kids (aged 18 months to 13 years old) my life is so busy just holding down the normal day to day routine. But my husband and I do strive to live a healthier lifestyle as a family. We are encouraging our kids with daily exercise, good health and nutrition. Here are a few ideas for encouraging families to live a healthier life!

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

1. Make it a Routine

What healthy routines are you making in your life? Once you do something a few times with your kids, it can quickly become the “norm”. Like dessert – I know if we’ve offered the kids a bowl of ice cream two nights in a row you can bet that they’ll be asking for it again on night 3! Simple healthy routines become habit if you do them often enough, too. Here are a few of our healthy living routines:

  • Taking off our shoes before entering the house. So much unhealthy bacteria on shoes – better that shoes stay on the porch or garage.
  • Flossing our teeth nightly.
  • Daily bathroom cleaning.
  • We get out of the house together each evening to take an after-dinner walk. It’s a way for us to help settle our stomachs, squeeze in a little exercise and tire out the kids before bedtime.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

2. Get Input

Our kids each have their own idea of what kind of exercise they like to do. My eldest son would happily play basketball all day. The kindergartner loves to swim. Our teenage daughter isn’t crazy about exercising but she doesn’t mind riding the stationary bike at the gym. And of course the toddler just wants to climb on play equipment at the park! It’s important when getting kids on-board that you take their personal tastes into consideration and participate in the exercise that they enjoy. We get every child involved with family-friendly exercises.

3. Easy Meal Swaps

At mealtime, I know that there are certain foods my five-year old doesn’t enjoy. He’s tried them and his taste buds just aren’t having it, so I don’t push the issue. I don’t make a big deal out of the fact that he doesn’t like bananas, so at breakfast – I’ll cut up a pear for him instead. And at dinner tonight while the rest of us ate grilled zucchini, I steamed up some baby carrots for him in the microwave. I’m not making completely different meals for him. And I do make him at least try the foods before he determines that he doesn’t want more. But it’s easy enough for me to make a quick swap for him so I know he’s having a balanced meal.

4. Mix it Up

A bit of diversity is a great idea. Doing the same thing week after week is boring! Our weekends are spent outside, taking long walks around the lake, playing soccer or swimming. We never do the same thing two weekends in a row. Around the dinner table we are trying out new veggies and creative recipes. We’ve found recently that we enjoy spaghetti squash!

5. Supplements

I’ve been wanting to purchase a children’s vitamin for my kindergartner. With my son now spending long school hours around a bunch of other five year olds, I was looking for something that would support his immune system.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

I found Nature Made® Kids First® Vitamin C Gummies at Target. I also found Nature Made® Vitamin C Adult Gummies and picked those up for my husband and I. Target’s Cartwheel app currently offers 10% off all Nature Made® products, while supplies last.

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Going into winter, I want to get our family on a healthy routine of taking supplements. Nature Made® had the 1st gummies verified by USP for purity and potency.* Nature Made® Gummies also have great tasting natural flavors, are gluten free and have no preservatives or yeast.

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Kids First® Gummies are for children 4 years older and up, perfect for my kinder kid. And at just $9.99 for a value sized bottle, this is a great price. Gummy vitamins are just fun and it’s an easy way to get kids to take supplements. It never fails that my son reminds me every day to give him his gummy – he never forgets! See, now that’s a good healthy habit routine!

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† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

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These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

Preparing Your Child for the First Day of Kindergarten

My 5 year old starts kindergarten in less than two weeks (cue Mom’s tears!) He’s crazy excited about school so that makes preparing him for kindergarten sort of easy. Not all kids are like that though – My eldest was terribly nervous and anxious about his first day of kindergarten. Getting kids ready to learn, choosing at-home school supplies and even cute photo ops can add to the excitement. Here are a few ways to prepare your child for the first day of kindergarten!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking the links and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. “Play” School at Home

If your child has never been to school before the entire concept may be daunting and confusing. Outline what will happen throughout the day. Describe terms they might not know like work study, arts and crafts, recess, lunch period, quiet time and free play. Role play can help kids know what to expect and ease the jitters.

Home workbooks like these can get your kinder kid prepared for what they might be seeing from their teacher during school. (BIG Kindergarten Workbook and Reading & Math Jumbo Workbook: Grade K)

   

2. Read Books Together

Story time is a big deal in kindergarten! And of course you already know that about 30 minutes of reading each night is ideal to develop reading skills in kids.

These are two favorite books I know about the first day of school. They are sure to put a smile on the face of your nervous kindergartner. These books are must-haves! (The Kissing Hand and First Day Jitters)

   

3. Make Learning Fun

Teaching basics like letter recognition and how to properly hold a pencil will start kids off on the right foot. Supply your kindergartner with a few of these items to practice learning at home first. (Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Alphabet Activity Book and Gaobei Pencil Grip for Children)

4. Wait for a Supply List Before Making Big Purchases

I know that the kindergartners in my school district don’t use backpacks. Kids carry open-topped buckets to hold their over-sized paperwork. So I won’t be making a backpack purchase for my kindergartner this year.

That’s my son on the left with his LL Bean backpack in 3rd grade. He’s still using it in 8th grade!

However if you do need a backpack, I highly recommend L.L.Bean. I bought my eldest son his backpack from L.L.Bean when he entered 3rd grade. He’s starting 8th grade this year…with the same backpack! And it’s still in great condition (no wear, no tears and the zippers work perfectly).

LL Bean Backpack (same one I bought my son 5 years ago!)

Before you run out and stock up on pencils and crayons, wait for a supply list from your child’s teacher. Or consider buying a few small items to have at home to get your child in the “back to school mood”.


5. Teach and Practice Basic Manners at Home

“Please” and “Thank You” goes a long way. So does sharing, friendship and being a good friend. Practice with gentle reminders at home. A few good books can help to reinforce what you’re teaching. (365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette and Say Please, Little Owlet)

   

6. Pick Out a Special First Day Outfit

My kids love having something special to wear on the first day of school. And I always shop Gymboree because the quality and pricing is fantastic. The clothes are durable and so cute too (perfect for picture day!)

At prices like these, you can easily stock up for the entire first month of school! (PS: These are all images of clothing that I’ve recently purchased for my own kids!)

If you’ve never ordered before, here’s a special link that will get you 25% OFF Gymboree with your first order!

Make the First Day Special

Now that you’ve taken care of preparing your kindergartner for the first day of school, here are a few more ideas to help make the first day really special!

7. Plan a Fun First Day Breakfast

Put away the cold cereal for the first day and give the kids something fun and filling! A Mickey waffle would surely put a smile on their face for back-to-school. And Amazon even sells Golden Malted waffle mix, the same kind used in the Disney parks! (Disney Classic Mickey Waffle Maker and Golden Malted Pancake & Waffle Flour)

8. The Obligatory First Day of School Photo

I love the idea of taking first day of school photos in the same place each year, just to compare growth from year to year. I try to pose my kids against the cute white fence at my mom’s house each year. From left to right, this is my son at kindergarten, first, third, fourth and fifth grade.

      

Another sweet memory is capturing your kindergartner exploring their classroom for the first time. I grabbed this shot when my eldest son sat down to look at picture books in his new class.

9. Write Down First Day Thoughts in a School Memory Book

You’ll look back fondly on these sweet memories! Having a dedicated school memory book keeps cute memories, photos and special awards and photos in one spot. My 13 year old son has the book mentioned here. I love looking back at it on the first day of school each year, remembering that adorable kid with missing front teeth! (School Years: A Family Keepsake of School Memories)


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


These practical back-to-school preparation tips will help ease your kinder kid into the first day of kindergarten.

Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolGoals #CollectiveBias

My 3 kids are excited to be headed back to school, are yours? They can’t wait to see their friends, start in a new grade and yes, even learn something new (Self-discipline runs high in those first few weeks of school and I try to take advantage of that!) Stocked with fresh school supplies, the kids are organized with assignments. They’re on top of their school paperwork and planning new projects. I’m on my game too, keeping a tidy calendar of events and going through the paperwork like a pro.

And then sometime in mid-October, energy wanes. Interest drops and sameness sets in. The school supplies aren’t so fresh anymore and motivation for school is POOF…gone! With three kids starting school in the fall, I’m looking for ways to keep my kids resolute on their school goals. Motivation leads to strong habits for a lifetime. And truly, that’s my ultimate goal as a mom: Raising independent people who can stick to their goals with minimal reminder from me.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation for School

I have one child starting kindergarten and two teens in their final year of junior high. Setting goals and having small reminders help my kids stay motivated year-round. I find that I’m more likely to accomplish my goals when I write them down. There’s just something about seeing those goals day after day in my own handwriting that helps me stick to it!

This year I’m helping my kids get set for success by having them write down their goals before school begins. I’m encouraging them to stretch beyond the basics and truly extend and reach farther than they have before.

Coming Up with #BackToSchoolGoals

Keeping motivation high year-round is a challenge and kids need frequent reminders. Rather than the nagging “Mom voice”, I’m letting my kids come up with their own school goals. This is something they can foster themselves, with their own words and objectives.

Here are a few motivation goals for school that my kids came up with:

  • Clean out backpack each night after school
  • Prepare clothes, backpack and lunch the night before
  • Get to bed no later than 9 pm
  • Read at least 30 minutes each night before bed
  • Speak up in class and try to answer questions (even if we don’t always have the right answer)
  • Wake up early enough to have time for breakfast and getting ready without rushing
  • Aim not to miss any days of school
  • Remember to bring home physical education clothes at the end of the week
  • Complete extra credit assignments if offered
  • Organize folder and paperwork each week
  • Greet teachers and peers and make new friends
  • Limit free time at home with tablets and video games

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Writing Down Motivation Goals for School

Since I know that writing down goals helps develop good habits for a lifetime, I’ve created a FREE PRINTABLE: Motivation Goals for School. Kids can fill in their school year goals. This motivational worksheet can be referred to all school year. Use this free printable with your kids to help them write down their own school goals.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

In anticipation of the school year, I stopped at Walmart and I picked up the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouches in a 50-pack. For some reason I always thought that a laminating machine would be really expensive, but it’s so reasonably priced (and now I can’t stop thinking about all the things in my house I want to laminate!) You can find these items in the back-to-school supplies section.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

I laminated my son’s school goals with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator. After he was done with the goal sheet we simply slide it into the Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouch. When the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator was warm and ready (a blue light indicator goes on), we slid the pouch in place and the machine did the rest!

We three-hole punched it and placed it where he’ll see it every day, in the front of his binder. This consistent reminder to my kids of their original goals is going to help them stay on track!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

More Motivation Reminders All Over the House

I have several motivational phrases in my home, including favorite Bible quotes. Seeing them daily and repeating them either in my head or out loud keeps me calm and centered. I like being surrounded by positive encouragements.

I created this trio of motivational quotes and printed them out. I’ve laminated them with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and will be tacking them on the walls of each of the kid’s rooms. With two of them in their final year of junior high, I want to fill them up with as much positive energy as I can before they start high school!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                      #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                           #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

FREE PRINTABLES: What Others Are Doing (orange), You Can If You Think You Can (blue)Motivation and Habits (green)

I frequently use Post-it® Notes around the house as motivational reminders. Seeing what I’ve written day after day really helps me soak in the affirmations. Strategically placed Post-it® notes with an uplifting message for the kids help keep them focused on their school goals.

I usually have my Post-it® Notes messages on the bathroom mirror. Consider placing motivation reminders where kids will see them frequently, like on a cereal box for the morning or inside their lunch box.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation Leads to Habit

Once kids are motivated, making something a regular habit will truly ingrain it into their routine. Since I was a child I’ve always taken a few minutes before bed to choose my clothes and prep for the next day. I have my kids do the same by getting outfits ready, putting their shoes and backpacks in the garage and we run through the next day’s calendar.

There are no last minute scrambles in the morning because we have a great habit of setting things up the night before. This daily preparation is now a habit that keeps me on track each day and sets up a calm and organized morning.

Another good habit is to keep binders and paperwork organized. Use of Post-it® Page Markers and Post-it® Flags Page Flags with crucial items tabbed saves time when trying to find assignments or important papers.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

What motivational goals are you setting up with your kids now in the hopes they will turn into habits? What #BackToSchoolGoals would you add to the list? Share with me in the comments!

Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don’t Have to Nag)

FREE PRINTABLE - Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)

Preteen kids have a lot to keep track of. With the start of junior high, puberty and a changing body, they also have intense emotions they’re dealing with as well (seen Inside Out?) I have two preteens in the house (my almost 12-year old son and my 11-year old stepdaughter) so my husband and I have a lot to deal with keeping them on track!

If you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is have to run down a laundry list of items as your kids are going out the door. They don’t like the nagging and neither do I…however, I also don’t want my kid smelling like an onion after P.E. because they forgot deodorant! Streamlining their personal routine and making it more routine for them is the key, but sometimes they need help remembering.

FREE PRINTABLE -Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)

I created this quick, no-nagging-necessary free printable checklist for preteens. I have it in a plastic sleeve, posted in several places around the house so my preteens can handle their business privately on their own. This is all about creating good habits that your child will take with them through life. And about teaching them a routine so at some point these things will be second nature and they won’t have to refer to the checklist anymore. Parenting is about creating independent people (because you don’t want to be calling your college-age children to make sure they are using deodorant, right?)

Here’s my FREE PRINTABLE Preteen Daily Checklist.

FREE PRINTABLE -Preteen Routine Daily Checklist Printable (So You Don't Have to Nag)


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Streamline the Morning Routine (What Keeps Me Sane and On-time During the School Year)

I have the morning routine down pat! It wasn’t always that way…in fact, I have a decades-old history of oversleeping, scrambling out the door wearing two different shoes, hitting the snooze alarm 13 times and all those other not-so-fun ways to meet the sunrise! Just ask my mom, the poor lady who had the privilege of waking me throughout elementary school…boy, was I a groggy mess!

12 Ways to Streamline the Morning Routine

Live and learn and I’m here to tell you that budgeting your time is just as important as budgeting your money when it comes to household happiness. Nobody feels very excited about their day when it starts in a frantic rush. Read on for my tips to streamline your morning routine and keep yourself sane in the process!

Ask me how many times my kids have been late to school and I will proudly tell you NEVER!

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Mornings don’t start in the morning, they start the night before!

Prepare as much as you can the day and night before. This way mornings are started off in a calm manner and there isn’t any wild rushing around in search of things or trying to get too much done in a limited amount of time. Here are 7 ways that you can streamline the morning routine by prepping the night before.

2. No Wardrobe Malfunctions

Ever since I was in Kindergarten, I’ve planned my wardrobe the evening before. My son has no issues with getting up, pulling out a shirt and shorts and easy-peasy, he’s dressed. But us girls, we take a bit more time on our style, I guess! I work with my daughter to plan outfits for the week and stack them inside a closet organizer along with socks, underpants and hair accessories. All she has to do in the morning is grab the next outfit and get ready.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

A hanging organizer for outfits.

Wardrobe planning has always been something I take pride in. Every night I decide what I’m going to wear and set it aside in my closet. I pull out my jewelry and set it on my dresser so in the morning I don’t even second guess myself, I just grab and go. Have your kids help choose their outfits on Sunday night and gather all parts (socks, underpants, accessories) so they have them together.


3. A Place for Everything

No mad dash looking for anything in the morning because it will have already been put there the night before. Teach your kids to prep the night before and get them in a lifelong good habit of organization and timeliness!

Backpacks should be cleared out every afternoon with all paperwork, library books and homework returned to the backpack in the evening so it’s ready to grab in the morning. Shoes should be sitting together where you can step into them going out the door. Hairbrush, detangling spray and elastics/bows should be together (we keep ours in a bin under the bathroom sink) so it’s easy to style in the morning.

Jackets are on a hook next to the backpacks. Bedrooms are tidied up and toys and books are put away before bedtime. We have no morning scrambles for anything because it was already set in the right place the night before!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

4. Lunches Made in Bunches

I buy in bulk and portion items out into plastic snack bags. I store cold snacks in a bin in the fridge (like cheese cubes, melon slices or carrot sticks). Dry snacks are in a bin in the cupboard (like chips and crackers, granola bars or a cookie).

The only thing I make the morning-of is the sandwich. Everything else has already been prepped so in the morning all I do is grab a few pre-portioned bags to make a well-rounded meal.


5. Set the Stage for Sleep

As I’ve instructed my husband, a tickle-fest is not going to get our kindergartner in the mood for sleep! Shortly after dinner, we start the routine of quiet playtime, reading in bed, a light snack and teeth brushing before turning off the lights. A warm bath or shower right before bed can help kids relax.

We turn off the television long before bedtime to keep stimulus at bay. The pace is slow and calm and our kids know what to expect, even the toddler (don’t try to skip story time!). Keeping your routine the same each night can also help sleep come quickly and have them sleeping all night in their own beds.

6. A Reasonable Bedtime

According to the National Sleep Foundation website, elementary school aged kids need about 10-11 hours of sleep each night. My kids wake up at 6 am Monday through Friday so that means they should be going to bed no later than 8:00 pm.

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.

With a toddler, kindergartner and junior high kids in our house, we have everyone in bed around the same time each night. Bedtime is between 7:45 to 8:15 pm and no later than 9 pm on the weekends. We aim for consistency on the bedtime and the kids show the consistency in their behavior and attitudes. They hop right out of bed in the morning, aren’t groggy in the afternoons and are sleepy enough in the evenings that they put themselves to bed on time each night.

7. Put Yourself to Bed at a Decent Time, Too!

I’m the worst offender of this in my family. After everyone else is in bed and I finally find time to myself I find myself puttering around doing nothing, reading too many Facebook posts and starting projects that really shouldn’t be started at 10:36 pm. And then I’m kicking myself in the morning when I don’t want to get up!

I’ve pledged to start getting to bed at a decent time, one that gives me more than 5 measly hours of sleep each night. Even after just a week of this I’m feeling better, waking easily and am not “hitting the wall” at 2 o’clock each day any more.

8. A Restful Room is Conducive to Sleep 

A slightly cool room, comfy bedding, white noise (like a fan), darkness, and a soothing scent (like lavender) can all invite refreshing sleep. On occasion (especially during periods of stress), my kids have enjoyed listening to a relaxing story tape or soft music with the lights out.

I’ve trained my kids not to require a nightlight because if the lights are on, they are more likely to have their eyes open. If it’s very dark in the room then what’s the point of having your eyes open, there is nothing to look at…close your eyes and go to sleep!


Good Morning Sunshine!

After a peaceful evening the night before and a good night’s rest, your kids will be in a better position to have a happy morning routine. Here are my 4 tips for nailing the morning routine!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

9. Awakening to an Alarm Clock 

If you have kids who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, get them used to waking with an alarm clock. Looking back, if I’d used an alarm clock as a kid instead of waking to my mom coming in to my room (over and over!) I would have gotten up the first time instead of the tenth. The alarm clock only goes off once (unless you use the Snooze button, but I’ve never taught my kids what that is, they assume that the clock goes off once and that’s it…tricky me!).

If you don’t get up you’re going to be late, easy as that. If MOM is waking you, as a kid you know that she’ll keep coming back in as many times as it takes and eventually the kids and mom are trained in the wrong direction!

If you are a habitual snoozer, try to break yourself out of the habit. It’s not good quality sleep anyway. Get up right away and either open the window to let in the morning sunlight or turn on the light in the room to get your body adjusted. Make your bed right away and you won’t be tempted to crawl back in!


10. The Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast

We never leave the house without breakfast and I’m surprised when my kids say that so many of their friends don’t eat breakfast in the morning. I can’t imagine trying to function for so many hours until lunch on an empty stomach.

I get up early enough to prepare a quick and balanced breakfast for me and the kids. This could be scrambled eggs, toast and a slice of melon. Fruit smoothies with juice, milk or soy milk are a hit. Homemade oatmeal with diced apples and cinnamon is often requested. Or if we are more rushed, a bowl of cereal and a banana.

I like a bowl of Greek yogurt with fruit, agave and a sprinkling of granola. I often take mine “to-go” and eat it when I get to work. Sometimes the night before I will make banana or apple nut muffins to include with breakfast.

On weekends when I have time to make pancakes or waffles, I make extras and freeze them to heat up for breakfasts during the week. Add some whipped cream and a few blueberries and voila, a fancy breakfast on a Thursday!

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

11. Final Brushing Call: Teeth, Hair and Out the Door!

I have the kids take turns in the bathroom brushing teeth and hair because mayhem and delays tend to ensue when they attempt to share the sink! I usually give my daughter’s hair a quick style and maybe pop in a bow. We keep a box under the sink that holds hair elastics, a brush and detangling spray so everything is in one place. If a fancier hair style is requested (like for picture day), we allow extra time by getting up earlier.

We keep shoes and backpacks on a shelf in the garage so the kids grab their lunches off the counter on their way out and within a few minutes we’re in the car and on our way.

Streamlining Your Morning Routine

12. It’s Early…Know Your Limits

Don’t try and cram too many chores in the morning routine. I keep it simple by only requesting that beds be made before we leave the house. If complicated hair styles or made-to-order breakfasts are making your kids miss the bus, save them for the weekends when you have more time.

I’ve also been known to set the timer for my daughter when she dilly-dallies over her cereal bowl…when it dings she knows she has one minute to wrap things up and move on to the next task. If you keep finding yourself running late, set the alarm clock for fifteen minutes earlier to allow a little extra time…there’s no harm in arriving early.

Only you know where to draw the line so set the limits for your kids and it will set them up for morning success!

No more stressful or rushed mornings! These 12 tips for streamlining the morning routine are easy and practical.