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3 Steps to a Smooth(er) Morning with Kids

Mornings at our house used to be chaotic. Some mornings still are.

You too?

Then you are in the right place.

My husband and I both work full time. Luckily, I have a great husband who helps out with everything around the house. Even though we both get things ready in the morning, there was a time it was extremely chaotic. It was ok when we just had one child. Then we had a second child and the chaos magnified. I’m not sure how adding one little person to the mix could do that, but it did.

In the mornings we would:

-Unintentionally be short with each other.

-Lash out at our 4 year old for not “moving fast enough.”

-Rush out the door with not a minute to spare.

Every morning was a nightmare. I would feel stress for at least the next half hour after leaving the house, even though that part of the day was done. Needless to say, it was not a good way to start the day.

One morning on the way to work, I was thinking about this dilemma. What made the mornings chaotic and how could we solve the problem? In short, everything which had to get done!

Mornings used to be chaotic. Then we implemented these 3 steps. Click To Tweet

3 Steps to a Smoother Morning (2)

Photo Credit: cuppycake fiend via Compfight cc

I talked to my husband about this later in the night, after the kids were in bed and we could think. We came up with three ideas to make our mornings easier.  Here are 3 steps you can take for a smoother morning with kids:

1. Prep everything you can the night before.

Think about what does not have to be accomplished in the morning.

Did you write those things down?

Those are the items you can prep the night before. The main excuse I get for this step is “I’m too tired.” I understand that. The last thing I want to do after the kids go to bed is prep for the next day. I would rather plop down and watch tv, write, or go to bed.

However, by spending 15 minutes prepping for the next day, I save myself from having a huge headache in the morning

Items I prep the night before:

-The kid’s lunches

-Our lunches

-Set out clothes

-If it is Sunday, I pack bags for preschool and the sitters for the week

Although prepping is not my favorite thing to do, it sure helps in the morning.

2. Make sure you are completely ready before the kids get up.

I like sleep. A lot.

When I went back to work after having our second daughter, I realized simply being up before the kids were up was not going to cut it. I was going to have to be completely ready before their little eyes opened up.

For me, this meant showered, make up on, hair done, dressed, coffee drank, and my daily reading.

Does my morning always turn out like this? Nope. Some days the girls decide they are going to get up 5 minutes after I do…at 5:30 am. Thankfully this is not the norm.

When I am completely ready, I can then focus on their needs once they are awake.

3. Have set “jobs” each morning.

The prep you have done the night before makes finalizing lunches and other items much less complicated. However, there are still numerous things that have to be taken care of in the morning.

Breakfast has to be made and lunches need to be finalized. The preschooler needs to be poked and prodded to get dressed, eat breakfast, get her hair done and brush her teeth. The baby needs to eat breakfast and *most* of the time we get her dressed before taking her to the sitters.

There is still a lot that has to be done to get the kids, and us, out the door on time. We figured out early on there are certain parts of our morning routine that we like over others. And thankfully we each like doing what the other would rather not.

The hubs loves to make breakfast, which means he takes care of all of the food in the morning, including finishing up lunches. I usually handle corralling the kids and getting them to the breakfast table and then finish up getting the preschooler ready.

This doesn’t mean this is the way it always is, but it allows us to each have something to own in the morning. This also means we don’t get in each other’s way or assume the other person is going to take care of that one thing neither of us want to do.

In Conclusion…

Ensuring mornings are a little less chaotic and a little smooth(er) with kids can be achieved. It takes some planning in the beginning, but once you find your groove, the process of each morning is much smoother. Are mornings still chaotic for us sometimes? Yes. When they are more chaotic than normal, odds are we skipped one of these steps.

What can you do to make your mornings smooth(er) with kids?

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

P.S.- Continue the conversation on Facebook! I would love to hear how I can help you on your journey. To receive up to date content, sign up to receive my free 7 Steps to a Prioritized Life on the home page and posts will be delivered right to your inbox.  If Facebook isn’t your favorite social media site, you can connect with me on TwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.

Permission to Let Go

I was at the end of my rope, emotionally, mentally and physically. I realized I couldn’t do it anymore.

How often do you push and push yourself, only to end up in an extremely unhealthy place? For those with dreams and plans, a lot of time and effort goes into accomplishing goals that are outside normal, everyday responsibilities. I seem to do that all too often. I have dreams, plans, and goals. I want to do and accomplish much in this life.

So I push.

And push.

And push.

Until I am at a breaking point.

When You Are At Your Breaking Point

Emotionally, one can only take so much. The car breaking down. The air conditioner breaking. Our daughter having surgery. My grandma passing away. Job interviews for jobs that meant a major family move. We have had one occurrence after another this summer. When I thought we were done with one situation, another presented itself.

Emotions play into our physical and mental well-being. When we are struggling emotionally, we struggle physically and mentally. The inverse of that is true as well. Physically, I was pushing myself to write a blog post a week, continue with coaching clients, and work as an adjunct professor. This was on top of my full time job, a husband, kids, and a house to manage.

Three weeks ago, I decided to give myself permission to let go.

Give yourself permission to let go of the

Granting Permission

The drive to do certain things comes from my “achiever” strength. I set goals for myself and I find fulfillment in achieving those goals. I create to-do lists so I can mark the items off of my list. I will even add something on to my to-do list after I have done it so I can cross it off (weird, right?). Yet I know this about myself which is extremely helpful.

Three weeks ago I decided to let everything go that wasn’t a top priority and to simplify my time. I had to go to work and I committed to adjunct; those couldn’t be put aside. What I could put aside was the pressure to write every night, to edit my book, to put that perfect graphic on the blog post, and to have my house spotless.

I had to give myself permission to have a messy house and to not give the baby a bath every night.

Give yourself permission to not do that one thing you feel you need to do. Click To Tweet

I gave myself permission to be a wife. I gave myself permission to be a mom, to play games with my big girl and giggle with my baby. I gave myself permission to just sit. I never just sit. Oh how this was so good for my soul. I also gave myself permission to be spontaneous and head out of town with my family for the day.

Give yourself permission to let go of the things that are not important. The things that take your time from what truly matters to you. When you know your priorities, you can begin to say no or put aside the items on the to-do list that do not matter.

The Right Action at the Right Time

I realized the amount of information I was consuming a day was not helpful either. Everyone is trying to sell something these days. 8 days to a more beautiful you. 6 steps to make $300k a year. How to double your Instagram followers. We are told by big names like Michael Hyatt that to be a success you have to do x, y, z.

The internet makes everything look so easy. The reality is, it takes hard work and networking to become successful. There is no magic formula. Being bombarded with these messages is not helpful nor healthy.

The internet makes everything look easy. The reality is, it's hard work. Click To Tweet

Limiting how much time I spent online and with the tv on took a burden off of me that I did not realize I was carrying.

In Conclusion…

Life can be extremely stressful. There are stresses that we can’t get rid of and unexpected situations that cause emotional turmoil. Playing with your kids, spending time with your family, these are the things that you can never get back. Once time is gone, it is gone. Give yourself permission to not do that one thing you feel you need to do. Cleaning the house or writing that blog? There will be time for that, but don’t let it consume you like it almost did to me.

What is something you can let go of?

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

P.S.- Continue the conversation on Facebook! I would love to hear how I can help you on your journey. To receive up to date content, sign up to receive my free 7 Steps to a Prioritized Life on the home page and posts will be delivered right to your inbox.  If Facebook isn’t your favorite social media site, you can connect with me on Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

3 Areas to Prepare Beforehand to Make the Most of Your Vacation

Vacation.

It is now the middle of summer and you most likely have either gone on a vacation or are planning on going on your summer vacation soon. The excitement of getting away from it all can often be overshadowed by all that has to be accomplished before you leave.

There are different types of vacations that we take. It’s different when it’s just you going somewhere and when it’s you and your kids and your entire family. When I go on vacation with my husband, we stay up late and sleep in and lay out on lounge chairs with a drink in hand. Vacationing with kids is the same as being at home except they are more tired because they miss naps. And they get up at 5:45 am instead of their usual 6:30 wake up time. Although it can be exhausting, it is also a lot of fun.

3 Areas to Prepare to make the most of vacation (2)

I love to vacation. We have been in a stressful season of our family life, with one thing happening after another. Luckily, I have a great partner in this life who is my rock and together we navigate as obstacles arise. I couldn’t be more thankful for him.

To vacation means to vacate your life. Unless you are able to take a long vacation, often this isn’t possible. You still think about your job or something at home or if people are going to come look at the house you are selling. At the same time, you so desperately need a break from your life.

How can you ensure you have the best vacation possible? Make the most of your vacation. Here are 3 areas to prepare beforehand to make the most of your vacation.

1. Work

Before you leave work for your vacation, try to wrap up as many loose ends as possible. Make the phone calls you have been putting off and return emails. Tell your boss where you are at with different projects. Hand off any assignments to co-workers who might be overseeing your projects while you are gone. Write down any pending items you need to take care of when you return. You won’t worry as much if you know it’s being taken care of or if you have a plan to take care of it when you return.

2. Home

The best thing we do in preparing for vacation is hiring a house sitter. It is usually our neighbors son (who happens to be an old co-worker) who watches our house and dogs. The first time he watched the house and dogs I kept asking my husband to check in with him to make sure everything was ok. Now that he has done it so many times I don’t have to worry about it. I know it is being taken care of by a reliable college student. Having a house sitter lined up ensures items at home are being tended to.

3. Plan

Know what there is to do.

If you are going on a vacation to a location you go often, then you know what there is to do. If it’s a new town or a different part of town that you are staying, do some research beforehand to see how you can spend your time. If you happen to know someone who lives in the town you are visiting you might be able to get some insider information from a local on things to do and places to go. With kids, we do a day of planned activity (like the zoo or theme park) and then a low key day (like the beach) so we can ensure they get a nap in their beds. This helps for all of our sanity.

And While You are on Vacation

Be all there.

It can be easy to focus on the things back home or get sucked into social media. You will only have that one vacation at this age in your life with your family. My girls will only be this exact age once. Focus on the time you have to spend with them. Give each other grace while living in close quarters while also lacking sleep. If it’s just you and your spouse, I’m sure you are getting plenty of rest without the kids. Make lasting memories with your family. The hustle and bustle of life and responsibility will return soon enough. Embrace the time together.

Responsibility will return soon enough. Embrace the time together. Click To Tweet

In conclusion…

Vacations can be stressful. I’m in the thick of an awesome vacation with my husband, kids, my parents, sister, bro-in-law, and niece. There are 9 people living together in extremely close quarters. Since vacations can be stressful, get rid of as much stress as possible before you leave home and embrace all that your vacation has to offer.

How do you prepare when going on vacation? Let me know what I missed!

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

Why You Need to Be Intentional

Do you ever think an event or time that is 5 years away is going to take forever to get here and then all of a sudden that time has arrived?  It’s been five years in a flash? It is something you have anticipated doing. You set goals. You made a plan. Yet in the planning stages it felt like it was going to take forever to get there.

Then one day you look up and time has gone by in an instant. In almost a blink of an eye, the time has passed by.

And you didn’t even realize it.

Where did the time go?

We live at the very edge of development in our town. About four years ago they ripped out the mature trees in the orchard. We thought they were going to be putting in a commercial center. Instead they replanted the trees. I remember thinking how small they were. I remember thinking how it will take them a long time to grow.

This morning when I went to exercise, I walked by those trees. The trees that I drive by every day all of a sudden were mature, full trees.

Where did the time go?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I want to make sure we live the story we want.  To live out a purposeful life and invest in those around us.

I want to make sure we live the story we want. Click To Tweet

That doesn’t mean that you quit your job, give up the security of a paycheck to do what you love or spend time with your kids without being responsible. I think that you can find purpose where you are. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in that place forever, but it does mean to look for the silver lining where you have been placed. You can make an impact right where you are at.

Be intentional about the story you live.

When did that happen?

Looking at those trees automatically made me think of my kids. See, right now they are small, but I have a fear that all of a sudden I’m going wake up one day and they are going to be teenagers. And I’m going to ask myself “when did that happen?”

With the end of the school year, people are posting pictures of their kids growing up. I saw pictures of kids that finished junior high or high school. Some were even pictures of kids graduating from kindergarten. And each person said “where did the time go?”

It is not as if each of these people had the thought “I am going to sit back and let time fly by.” I know many of these families personally and they live abundant lives. Yet in the busyness of life, even when they see their kids daily, time still seems to fly by.

What if I get so busy in the midst of life that I forget to look up? Did I forget to engage in a way that I should be engaging with my kids and my husband? Am I investing in what matters?

I’m really big on keeping my priority straight, but even then I feel like I fail miserably. I have my list of what’s important in my life and of course my relationship with God, my husband, and my kids are at the very top of the list.

I say that, yet I’m not sure of my life reflects that. Now it says in the Bible where your treasure (money) is there your heart is also. For me, it is where my calendar appointments are is where my heart is too. As I use my calendar for everything, and I need to be more intentional about investing in the things that truly matter.

Ways to be Intentional

We all have various areas of our life that we place a higher priority on. Here are 3 areas in which you could choose to be more intentional.

  1. Personal Development

Having a high level of self-awareness allows for you to see your flaws, recognize your strengths, and evaluate the areas in which you want to improve in yourself. This could be learning to be better with your finances, deciding to get healthy by exercising and changing your eating habits, or deciding to read a book a month, to name a few.  Be intentional about your personal development.

  1. Professional Development

You are most likely not the expert in your field or even at your office. Knowing where you want your career to end up allows for you to be intentional about professional development. Read articles and books on your career. Get hands on experience. One of the best ways I have developed professionally is by jumping in and offering to help with various projects. My knowledge has expanded as well as my experience. Be intentional about your professional development.

  1. Family/Relationships

The way you interacted with and loved others is how you will be remembered in this life. Your family, your spouse and kids, should be the most important people on this planet. You may have friends that are like family.  Be intentional in the time you spend with them. Plan date nights. Plan dates with your kids. Plan lunches and coffee with friends. Be intentional about the time you spend with your family and friends.

In Conclusion…

I hate the phrase YOLO. Usually that term is connected with temporary things, events. The reality is, you do only live once. This is why you need to be intentional. You need to be intentional about the story you live.

Looking at the orchard today was the best reminder I could have had about how I want to live this life.

What area of your life are you afraid time is going to fly by? What story do you want to live out? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

Single Parenting: 7 Things I Learned Being a Single Parent for a Week

My husband was out of town for 108 hours and 15 minutes (but really, who was counting?) and he came through the door not a minute too soon. We have a 3 year old who is going on 16 and a 10 month old. Luckily, they both sleep through the night.

First of all, mad props to all of the single parents out there who have to do it all.

By themsleves.

Without much, or any help. Being a parent is hard work when you have a spouse to do it with, let alone having to do it all on your own.

By the end of the week, I wanted to lay in the fetal position crying until my husband got home. But I stayed strong, for the littles.

In the midst of my chaotic week, this quote from C.S. Lewis popped into my Facebook news feed.

CS Lewis quote

This helped put the day into perspective, but it was still a struggle!

Here are 7 things I learned being a single parent for a week:

  1. Prep, prep, and more prep.

On a normal week, we prep everything on Sunday, or as much as we can. We did this together as we normally do since my husband was not leaving until Monday morning. Each night, I found that to get out the door on time, I had to prep as much as I could the night before.

The one night I didn’t prep? I yelled at the 3 year old to hurry up. Drop off was quick. We were rushed. And I was a little late to work.

After that morning, you better believe I prepped for the next day even though I was exhausted.

  1. Practice Grace: Kids never listen when you need them to.

It is as though kids have this sixth sense. When you really need them to pay attention, when you really need them to do that one thing without objecting or putting up a fight…they do just that.

And I wasn’t kind one morning.

I apologized immediately (because you aren’t a good parent if you cannot admit when you are wrong) and remembered she is three. Three and she can dress herself and put her shoes on and get her own cereal for goodness sake.

After the 1st day (yep, you read that right), I realized I needed to slow my mind down and speak kindly to my girl.

  1. Plan extra time.

To get anything done.

Think it will take you 5 minutes? Wrong. Halfway through the week I realized that I need to give myself three times the amount of time I thought it would take. Then, when we were done with the task or out the door early, I felt accomplished.

  1. Exercise.

Just kidding. That didn’t happen.

All about survival people.

  1. Lower expectations.

This was both in terms of what I thought I could accomplish during the week and expectations of my kids. I decided half way through the week that if the kids were clean, fed, and safe, I was calling it a success.

  1. Be Consistent.

I tried to keep everything as consistent as possible. Morning and bed time routine the same, which seemed to help. It provided stability. Kids seem to thrive on a schedule and stability.

This includes consistency in disciplining too. My threenager decided to throw a fit over something every night. It would have been easy for me to change expectations of her (which are age appropriate).

  1. Lean on your Community.

I was lucky enough to have the support of my parents and friends during the week. This relieved some of the stress a couple of the evenings. I was thankful for the meals that were provided, even if the three year old threw a fit and wouldn’t eat.

In Conclusion…

Parenting is hard. Being a single parent is even harder. When all is said and done, it is about raising these little people to be loving, kind, and courageous.

What is one of your biggest parenting challenges?

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)

No One Told Me Raising Kids Would Be Like This

Raising kids is no joke.

There is the feeding them. The playing with them. The disciplining them. The bathing them (I hate this one for some reason). And the constant “Mom, look at me.”

To which I respond “Trust me, I am always looking at you.”

They tend to suck the life right out of me.

And they also give me life.

Watching my baby crawl and giggle brings a smile to my face and a warmth in my soul. Seeing life through my three year old’s eyes has brought new life to me. When she experienced Christmas morning for the first time, her joy was contagious. She has a way of asking questions that gives me pause.

I worry about my kids. Wondering if I am doing all I can to provide for them emotionally, mentally, and physically. I wonder if I give them enough of my time. Working full time means everything has to get done at night and on the weekend. The mom guilt is especially strong when a child is sick or I ask my husband to take them to the doctor.

What I Want for My Children

I want to protect them from the world, yet let them experience life to the fullest.

I want them to have a full childhood and not grow up to fast.

I want them to learn how to work hard.

I want them to be critical thinkers.

I want them to understand there are always consequences, good or bad, to their actions.

I want them to understand healthy boundaries.

I want them to know their dreams are worth pursuing.

I want them to live a purposeful life.

Satisfaction In the Chaos

Raising kids is a lifelong venture. You hope for the best for your kids, pray for them, and know there are so many factors playing into how they will turn out.

And you pray you don’t screw them up.

It is in the midst of exhaustion, when I pause in my day, I see a glimpse of who my kids are becoming. And it brings a deep sense of satisfaction.

It is in the midst of exhaustion, when I pause in my day, I see a glimpse of who my kids are becoming. Click To Tweet

When my big girl grabs my hand while sitting on the couch, looks up at me with her big brown eyes and says “I love you mommy”, all becomes still. All becomes right in the world.

 

When was the last time you paused and felt deep satisfaction in your life? Share below!

Here’s to the Journey!

Stephanie_small (1)