It's a new year and your daily family routine may be a bit off. I know mine is. It's easy to get off track after a long winter break, sleeping in, going to bed late, eating your not so typical foods, um, can you say buñuelos and empanadas?
Let's face it, as parents, success means getting your kids to school on time without forgetting to pack their lunches or remembering to pack the diapers for the nursery. As moms, we have so much information packed inside our brains and it really doesn't help that after we give birth, scientifically speaking, we get the "mom brain." My kid is almost 5 and I still have it! So how can we get back into the grind and make our lives easier and everyone happier? Let's take a look at what works.
Morning and Evening Routines that Work for Little Ones
Mornings can be crazy and unlike the evening routine where time may be a little more flexible, morning hours are set. If you're late, you're late and that can throw off your entire day. Let's see how you can incorporate these things into your morning routine.
1) Prepare for your morning the night before.
My most successful days are those when I plan my day the night before. Here are some things you can prep the night before.
Set your kid's clothes
Have them pick an outfit out for the next day, including underwear, socks, and shoes. Avoid the having too many options in the morning decision game. If your kids are younger or babies, you can still set their clothes, along with any diapers, wipes, etc that will be needed for the daycare, nursery, or caregiver.
Set your work clothes
Pick your clothes out in the evening as well and if you're like me and want to see what it looks like, then try them on the night before. You know you'll be happy with your decision in the morning.
Set your workout clothes
If you can squeeze a workout in the morning, then set your workout clothes the night before or sleep in them to get you motivated and out of bed. Prefill a bottle of water and set aside anything you will need so you are ready to go and not scrambling in the morning.
Pack your kids school lunches
Pack your kid's lunches to the point where all you have to do is toss everything into the lunch bag in the morning without having to think about it. I put everything, including snacks in the fridge so in the morning all I have to do is move it from the fridge to the lunchbox. I love the Sugar Booger Sandwich/Snack Boxes, they are cute and have divisions for fruit or snacks.
Pack your lunch for work
If you pack a lunch to work, pack it the night before. If you take water bottles to work, fill them up the night before. Do you take vitamins? Lay them out next to your water so you remember to take them. The more you prep, the less you have to think in the morning.
Get Your Kids Backpack Ready
All homework, school supplies, papers, etc, should be packed and ready to go the night before, avoiding the morning, "I can't find my homework" routine. Assign a shelf or table in your home where this will go every night.
Get your Work Bag Ready
Your work bag may mean a large purse and if it's a purse, maybe you want it to match your outfit, which means that you may need to switch it out. Pack your bag or transfer your essentials and everything that is needed for work. One tip is to always have these items in every purse: hand sanitizer, travel size tissues, travel size wipes, a pen, and tampons or pads. This way you limit what you transfer and leave it to a wallet and a cosmetic bag.
Make Breakfast the night before
Keep it simple. I do oatmeal and cereal for breakfast during the week and weekends we go all out. On Sundays, I'll do a big pot of oatmeal that can last me a few days. On Tuesday or Wednesday, I'll do the same again. We mix up the oatmeal with raisins, or bananas, strawberries, blueberries, or chia seeds. We don't do nuts since my daughter Victoria is allergic, but you can add walnuts as well. You can also do yogurt and granola with fruit. My daughter hates yogurt and is allergic to eggs as well so breakfasts for us are pretty basic.
2) Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep goes for everyone in the household. It is not fun when someone is cranky in the morning. Tantrums erupt, your fuse is short, and you're bound to start your day on the wrong foot. My husband and I have both paid in the morning when we've binged watched Netflix on a school night. Your favorite show can wait, I promise.
3) Wake up early
I find that waking up between 30-60 minutes before everyone in the house gets my day going on a high note. It gives me time to stretch, enjoy a cup of cafecito, start my day with gratitude, write down my daily goals on my Goals to Successdaily track sheet, and shower if it's not a workout morning. If I have an early business appointment I'll wake up 90 minutes earlier to give me enough time to shower and get ready without accidentally leaving the house with one eye with eyeliner and the other without. You know what I'm talking about, or two mismatched shoes. If you find waking up early hard to do, start by setting your alarm earlier in increments of 10 minutes. Avoid hitting the snooze button, lol.
4) Give your child enough time to get ready
I wake up between 5:30 - 6:00am am and my daughter wakes up between 7:00 - 7:15 am. We need to be out the door by 8:15 am. Giving your child enough time to wake up, ease into the morning, brush their teeth, wash themselves, and have breakfast is key to getting out the door on time. Give yourself cushion for the occasional morning meltdown or dilly dollying that can happen. Every morning is different but having less stress is good for everyone.
Evening routines are similar to morning routines except that the only clock that is ticking is the bedtime clock. While it may certainly seem less stressful than the mornings, ensuring that everyone gets to bed on time in order to get enough rest will set the tone for the morning. We come full circle. Here are a few things you can do to make evenings easier.
1) Give your child a break when they come home, but not too long
If your child has homework or activities after school, give them 15-30 minutes before they start their homework. Perhaps give them a snack to fuel their thinking before they do homework and while you make dinner. Think about a long work day, don't you need a break too?
2) Make easy dinners
Don't kill yourself in the kitchen unless you love to cook. Many of us look for easy, nutritious foods, that don't take forever to make. I leave any major cooking for the weekends and make enough that can serve a few days and I love to freeze foods. Crock pots are great so you can leave it and forget it and pressure cookers are amazing for 30-minute meals. I make my life easier by buying 1 rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. I shred the meat and use it for tacos, pasta, or quick arroz con pollo. Soups are also great and for those days when I forget to thaw out meat, I opt for a lentil pasta that's high in protein and takes minutes to make, add a quick salad and you're good to go.
3) Give your child time to wind down before bed
Just like in the morning where an hour is good to get them going, I find that an hour to an hour and a half is what works for preschooler. During the week we limit tv and electronics. This is what our after school routine looks like:
30 minute Dinner prep while my daughter chills out in the kitchen, drawing, playing, or listening to music.
20-30 minutes family dinner at the table. No tv or electronics but we do listen to soft music jazz.
30-45 Minutes of homework in English and Spanish or activity like playing a board game.
5-10 minutes - Clean up
20 minutes - Bath Time (Brush teeth, wash hair, etc)
10-15 minutes - Putting Pajamas, Picking out Clothes for Tomorrow
10-20 Minutes - Reading
5 Minutes - Last Pee Pee Call Right before bed. Potty Training or having the urge to pee in the middle of the night disrupts sleep. Making sure they empty their bladder right before they go to sleep will help prevent accidents, which is why I cut off liquids about an hour before bedtime.
5-10 Minutes of Prayers, Light conversation, Hugs, and Kisses, Sleep
4) Get your alone time
After my daughter goes to bed, I need at least a couple of hours of alone time. Whether it's to spend with my husband, to catch up on work, to scroll through my phone, take a relaxing bath or read, I need a couple of hours where I'm whine free, tantrum free, and "mommy" free. I try to write down anything that is in my head that I have to do the next day so I don't go to bed thinking. It's important to give yourself that wind-down time for good mental health.
Final Thoughts on Morning and Night Routines that Work
Listen, nobody is perfect. You're going to have off days, where no matter what you do or how much you prepped, something goes wrong. It happens to all of us. I know there are days when I just want to throw the towel and the mom guilt creeps in, well, because I'm human. On those days I simply tell myself and sometimes I'll tell my daughter, "Mañana es otro dia" (Tomorrow is a new day). You are doing the best that you can and that is all you can do mama.
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