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Children / Creative Corner / Motherhood

Good Morning Mayhem

After a restful eight hours, you slip out of bed just in time to catch a majestic sunrise.  You sit quietly sipping a steaming hot cup of coffee and take a moment to read over an inspirational quote for motivation as you step out to conquer the day ahead.

Ok, so we’re moms but that doesn’t mean our mornings have to be completely crazy, right?  Maybe a cup of coffee – a couple of refills – not necessarily hot, just caffeinated.  A quick peak out the window to give thanks for a beautiful new day, a sincere request for mercy and a quick flip of the “quote of the day” calendar while doing at least two other things.

Ever feel like you wake up way too early to face the mass chaos of another day in parenthood?  Two kids, a husband and a dog are a lot for me first thing, and I consider myself a morning person.  Don’t get me wrong, I love them all, but after some barking, a few yells for assistance…and then the kids, I’m drained.  With just a few extra minutes, I might be able to pull it all together – or at least properly brush my teeth.

After a lot of fumbling around, throwing on a hat, and leaving a trail of disaster behind as we head out for a new day, I decided to strategize.  I came up with a few time-saving tricks for our morning routine.  Here’s what I have so far…

  •  Cubby Clothes

Seven cubbies, each with freshly laundered, matching outfits for each day of the week (or whatever might be clean and look acceptable).  My kids enjoy dressing themselves with the flare of an 80’s rock band.  I appreciate their efforts toward independence but would prefer that we adhere to the fashions of our decade.  My solution: cubby clothes.  They understand that these designated outfits (including proper accessories) are for school – when they come home they can go wild…and they do!  Now, the kids dress themselves in the morning, complete with socks and underwear – on good days anyway.  Not having to hunt for matching socks, appropriate attire, no arguments in the process…time savings per child = 5-10 minutes.

  • Make-Your-Own Cereal

A friend recommended this one.  It’s not just a time saver; it gives children some additional independence in the kitchen.  Place a small cup of milk on a low shelf in the refrigerator and leave a bowl of dry cereal, spoon and napkin on the table – there will be some spills but that’s part of the learning process.  If your kids are anything like mine, cereal is the breakfast choice of champions and since it comes in a variety of shapes, colors and flavors, every morning is a cereal morning.  Kids excited about breakfast management, eating happily together, no cooking involved…time saved = 15 – 20 minutes.

  •  Coffee Prep

Obvious, I know, but quite possibly the most overlooked key to mommy happiness – could I have a slight addiction?  A little coffee prep the night before works miracles the next morning.  At our house, someone will simply flip the switch (we’re not working with the latest technology here, ha!) and, like magic, freshly brewed coffee!  Take a warm cup to your husband *or wife* it can do wonders for your marriage.  Time savings in rapid caffeine motivation = up to 30 minutes, seriously.

Ahhh, a Moment for Mommy.

What to do with all that extra time?  For me, setting out on the right foot is amazingly helpful.  I fare best if I can squeeze in a little quiet time to focus and refresh.  These helpful tips allow me that time…time to worry less about the little stuff and remember what is truly important in life.  However, I usually end up cleaning a spill or making a grocery list, ugh.

Someday I’ll sip my coffee as I watch the sun come up, have time for a devotional or inspirational story and be mindful of the opportunities that await the new day…for now I’ll cherish my little moments and enjoy my caffeine.

Other helpful tips I’ve gathered over the years:

A Home for Everything
This idea is helpful in a few ways.  When you ask your children (or husband) to put something away, there is no question as to where it goes – which also means it will be where it’s supposed to when you need it next!  It helps me do a quick tidy if friends are on their way over…or, more commonly, I can slowly gather the mess in the approximate areas they belong (lovely piles to be attended to later – not my best habit.)

Labels for Sorting
Before applying labels to the containers in our upstairs closet, we had a mess of medicines, bandages and hotel shampoos living in various places.  So, one afternoon I went through everything and gave each container a purpose: prescription medications, cold and allergy, first aid…until I had it all sorted out.  I wasn’t sure if my efforts were going to be worthwhile, but two years later the closet is still in order and things are much easier to find.  I went on to label laundry baskets – one for each of us so we are able to manage some of our own laundry.  I can easily sort while folding, and the idea is that we each put our own, clean clothes away (a task that was becoming daunting for me)…however, this system has yet to be recognized by the members ofmy family, which means that those pretty labels are there for me – so I don’t become confused while putting laundry in drawers, grrrr.

Detailed Chore Lists
I made a chore list but I don’t use a chore list.  Sounds useless, but this is one way that has helped me get my priorities straight – and stay sane in the process.  I started with a list of everything that has to get done, which took up almost two notebook pages.  Then, my husband and I sorted out which tasks were primarily his or mine.  Finally, I made a short list all my own, dividing my cores into weekdays.  This list gave me a premise to work from, and as I would run out of time or something crazy happened I would just skip what I didn’t do and move on to the next day.

It was a relief to know that even if the floor didn’t get mopped on Monday, I would either have time after Tuesday chores or it would wait another week.  Having new priorities each day helped me to start fresh – not trying to make up for what I missed the day before.

I don’t even look at a list now, but I have learned a new mentality with keeping up with the house.  I do what I need to for the day and let some things wait till tomorrow…and not everything will get done in a week.


How do you reduce chaos and maintain mommy sanity?

photo: fineartamerica

Author: Jaime

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  1. Ohhhhh, I really needed this. I just returned from a friend’s house who is uber-organized and I resolved to start doing the same. Great tips!

  2. Seriously this makes me want to go home and clean my house and get organized and…STAY organized. I have a feeling if more people followed these few simple tricks the household would be a much happier place in the morning while trying to get out the door. 🙂 Thank you for the great creative tips!

  3. Thank you for such great ideas. Today I am cleaning for a group of ladies that will be meeting at my house tonight. This gives me allot of food for thought. I plan on trying to use some of your ideas, especially about getting organized. Maybe then I will be able to find things when I need them.

  4. A friend of mine gave me a great tip for last minute holiday cleaning – box up the mess, wrap it, and place it under the tree. I wonder if something similar might work this time of year 😉

  5. Good ideas! I like the Make-Your-Own-Cereal one, especially.

    Lovely sunrise!

  6. How fun ~ I love your ideas! I tend to be pretty organized but and am always looking for new ways to save time and get out the door without the craziness! 🙂 It’s so much nicer starting the day off with smiles and hugs rather than everyone being upset and frantic. I really like the “Cubby Clothes” concept, that is a major issue around here. 🙂 Part of my girls chore chart includes putting their clothes out on the ends of their beds every night before they go to sleep so we don’t have that stress in the morning about what to wear. Girls are the worst! I speak from experience. 🙂 Your article has my brain stirring about ways to better organize, and I love to hear how other moms run their homes, so thanks for sharing your great ideas!!! 🙂

  7. With 5 kids in school and 3 still at home, I find early mornings to be an interesting time of day. We’ve implemented a few routines to pave the way to the day.

    Make lunches the night before. They all make their own lunches, even our 1st grader.

    Have backpacks lined up the night before, ready with signed papers, homework. In winter, we keep gloves and hats inside each backpack 24/7 so there isn’t a scramble in the morning locating them.

    The kids make their own breakfasts. Our older kids fry or scramble eggs when the mood strikes. It’s easy for them to make extra for the younger kiddos. Bowls, spoons, cereal, milk are all accessible.

    We also make coffee the night before and set the timer.

    I like the idea of clothing cubbies, but I also like when my kids pick out their own clothes. My aforementioned 1st-grader has worn some wackadoo outfits to school, though.

  8. These are really great tips! I’ve been feeling so disorganized lately, so I’m going to try the chore list. I’m realizing that, as a mom, I really need to start delegating more and stop trying to do it all myself.

    One chore I have given to my girls is putting their own laundry away. I bought them each a basket, small enough for them to carry, that I put their clothes in when I fold laundry. They are responsible for getting the clothes in to the correct drawer and returning the basket. Every little bit helps!

  9. Great article and ideas Jamie! You are so brillant!!!!!!! Now to make these awesome suggestions work at home 🙂

  10. I too struggle with getting all of our laundry put away. This morning started off with me running to the basement to search for jeans for our boys. Ugh!

    A couple of things I can’t live without:

    Kid totes: Each of our kids has his own tote basket (recycled from our preschool days). I use these to gather up the little things left around the house and sort them by owner. Then, the kids are responsible for putting away their things before bed each night and returning the tote to me.

    Over-the-Door Shoe Bag: I purchased clear shoe bags to hang over the kids doors to hold little items that we use frequently, from lip balm, ezcema cream, combs, flashlights, and favorite little toys (bakugan and zoobles) that frequently get misplaced. It give the boys easy access and independence and fewer requests/demands from mom!

  11. I love all the creative ideas! Gretchen, I’m impressed – I would love to have a third child but am fearful of how I’d keep up…I have much to learn from you 😉

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