Our days are full, aren't they? No doubt you're smack dab in the middle of some version of this schedule as we speak: alarm clock, wake the kiddies, prep the breakfast, eat the breakfast, dress, dress everyone else, pack lunch, rush to school, drop the kids... once they're off (with or without a few more on your hip) time to roll to the office or rush through 1,000 to-dos until carpool, homework, after school activities, dinner prep, dinner, family time, bath time, bed time... and back at it tomorrow. Whew! Sounds like you need some simplicity in your life, too.
We don't have all the answers, but here we've compiled some very basic ideas that help bring sanity to our mornings and nights. It is amazing how a few simple adjustments make my life run more smoothly (and how easily a sweet day can sour when I don't plan with intention).
- Wake up early-- Think I'm kidding, right? Nope! Set that alarm for 20 minutes earlier than you normally would (I've actually been using the bedtime feature on my iPhone so I don't even have to set an alarm each night). Use those precious moments to slowly wake, breathe, meditate, pray, drink coffee in bed, and plan your day. Trust me, a peaceful start to your day is the best gift you can give your family and yourself.
- Meal prep the night before-- pack or purchase lunches and prepare (or plan) quick breakfast options before bed and the morning rush won't feel so rushed. Neat lunch ideas here. No judgment from me if your go-to is a Lunchable (add a baby orange or carrots for some freshness!)
- Lay out clothes the night before-- yes, that includes your own! Eliminate morning obstacles by eliminating as many decisions as you can. Find and prepare every item your children will need to wear, right down to the socks & shoes.
- Develop processes-- over time, they'll come naturally. My big kids get dressed completely before coming downstairs. Next they eat breakfast and get school papers signed... then back up to brush teeth and hair. The little girls eat breakfast first, then get dressed, then brush teeth and brush hair. If we don't order lunch the night before, the kids fill their lunch boxes before heading out the door. Easy peasy(ish!). Shannon, whose children attend homeschool, has a different set of processes (often breakfast with an audio Bible lesson and discussion before school work begins). Whatever your morning looks like, keeping it consistent will keep you sane.
- Talk and/or pray on the way to school (or before the kids hop on the bus)-- It's so important to send them off on a positive note. Nothing worse for your mentality than a chaotic morning and dejected children dispersing into the world. So huddle up for a minute or two and say I love you, wish them well, and pray for wisdom and blessing upon their day.
- Refresh yourself-- whether you drive kids to school, head straight to the office, or run early morning errands, try listening to peaceful music or a life giving podcast like this. I've recently started reading this book every morning, and I love it (she also sells an awesome prayer journal and has the most uplifting IG). Recharge your batteries by refilling your spirit. If you work out, try to get it done early. Your body will thank you and the rest of the day, you're free to get things done!
- Instant Pot = Dinner Salvation-- I'd love to cook 7 course meals from scratch... but I'm hard pressed to gather ingredients for 3 layer sandwiches (two of those layers being bread). Enter the Instant Pot! Delicious meals made in 30 minutes. Really! I'm not a great cook, but a very discriminating eater and the Instant Pot delivers home cooked goodness in a fraction of the time. Here are some recipes to get you started!
- Eat an early dinner-- whether you go the Instant route, order out, or create meals from scratch... try to do it early. The earlier the kids eat, the earlier they can start to settle down.
- Dim the lights and set the tone-- This may seem like a no-brainer, but bright light simulates daytime. Daytime means activity. Activity means excitement which is the opposite of what we want before bed. Turn the lights down after dinner (install dimmers if you can!) and you'll mentally set the tone for sleep. Bonus points for a soothing scent that subconsciously preps everyone for bedtime! Lavender scented oil in a diffuser smells great and settles the soul.
- Develop processes and routines that work for your family-- here again, if you're consistent they'll eventually come naturally. Dim your lights, bathe and brush teeth, dress in cozy pajamas, engage in a low intensity activity or conversation time (watch some television, read books, write in journals, play quietly with toys or electronics). This isn't the time for wrestling, sugary snacks, or debate. Whatever you do, keep it calm. This is also when my kids find their clothes and lay them out for the next morning (socks and shoes, too!).
- Five Minute Warning-- give the kids a little heads up before their actual bedtime... and stick to it. Mental preparation and consistency are key.
- Kisses, Hugs, and Prayers-- It really is sweet to finish the day with a gentle reminder that they're loved and safe (no matter how old they get). A kiss & hug from you are the cherry on top of the day! We've never been the "book before bed" type of family, but I know it works for many of my friends. We keep it simple. I hug and kiss each child individually, express my great love, and address any issues that have come between us during the day. Then, I ask if they want to pray together. A round of "just one more" hugs and "I love yous"-- then they're off to dream land. Shannon's family gathers each night and prays together before settling in. The key is to do what works for you to create a ritual that your children know and expect.
- Prep for Tomorrow-- If you have little ones, this is when you lay out their clothes (and your own!). Prep lunches or make sure they've been ordered. Decide what you'll make or serve for breakfast (we're cereal + sliced banana people because it's quick and easy). If you use a planner (this one is awesome), declutter your mind by inserting the loose tasks floating in your head that keep you from sleep.
- Snuggle up and get some rest! More sleep for you = better focus and more energy for tomorrow... cause' you're gonna need it.
With that, we hope you enjoy the rest of your beautiful week!