3 Keys to Create a Daily Routine with Kids for Less Stress

3 Keys to Create a Daily Routine with Kids for Less Stress

I used to fly by the seat of my pants. No schedule, no rhythm, no routine. But when I switched to a consistent daily routine with kids, my life got so much easier.

Any seasoned mom will tell you a daily routine with kids is really important. I had a somewhat loose routine that I followed when it was just me and my firstborn, but it wasn’t until my twins reached toddlerhood that the need for a consistent daily routine was clear.

The thing is, the routine wasn’t just for the kids, it was actually mostly for me as a way to keep my sanity intact with three wildlings 4 and under running amuck.

I was so stressed out.

I felt like I was untethered. Like I was just being blown about by the winds of parenting without any structure to my life.

We had kind of loose rhythms that we followed. Basically we woke up, napped, and went to bed about the same time every day. But besides that? It was all up in the air.

Sure, the scheduled activities like swim class or ballet class were consistent, but even something as simple as dinnertime varied from day-to-day.

Before having kids, the idea of a schedule or daily routine seemed so confining and boring! I even kind of made fun of the idea in my mind when I first had a kid. I thought those moms who had strict schedules were kind of… well… over the top. It all just seemed so unnecessary.

Whenever I tried to implement a more consistent routine, my daughter, the consummate free spirit, would throw a fit, and I let that deter me. I just went with the flow and the path of least resistance.

Sometimes that works in motherhood, and other times you have to just push through your child’s resistance because on the other side is a much happier life for the entire family.

My current daily routine with kids is still pretty fresh, and I’m still working to flesh out what works the best for us as well as continue to add new pieces to test them. But after some initial rebellion over a more structured day, we have settled into a much more peaceful existence. (As much as that is possible with two 2-year-olds and a 4-year-old. Thoughts and prayers are welcome. lol.)

The Daily Routine with Kids that’s Working for Us Now.

The first thing to note about our daily routine. I do not put times on our routine. This is for a few reasons.

Each day we might have a slightly different schedule due to different activities, appointments or lessons that we have scheduled outside the home. So instead of having different schedules or routines based on what we are doing which day, I just have the daily routine with kids set up in a way that allows us to just cut an element short or skip it entirely if need be.

I think of our routine in three main blocks. The morning, afternoon, and evening. For the most part, each block begins with a meal, except breakfast which begins with the normal waking up tasks like brushing teeth and getting dressed.

My kids love food, and making sure they have full bellies ensures the next parts of the routine go smoothly and aren’t interrupted by too many snack requests.

I also incorporate small circle times and lessons for my kids. We “homeschool.” I put that in quotes because my kids aren’t in school yet. My eldest won’t be in kindergarten until next year, but I wanted to begin to instill the habits we will need for homeschooling now.

Without further ado, here is our daily routine:

  • Wake up
  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Have breakfast
  • Daily list of chores/lessons (really basic list for my older child)
  • Circle time, reading time, and any lessons/crafts/projects we are working on
  • Playtime
  • Snack
  • Naptime
  • Lunch
  • Outdoor Play/Walk
  • Snack
  • Playtime
  • Dinner
  • Get ready for bed
  • Relaxing play (no TV’s, quiet time)
  • Small snack if they need it
  • Bedtime for Twins (daughter usually plays for about an hour longer than the twins before going to bed)

3 keys to keep in mind when creating your routine.

Let’s get into the three things that are most important to creating a daily routine with kids that will actually be helpful and not stressful. In the past, I’ve tried to implement routines that just turned into a hot mess, and other times it was like a charm.

These three keys will help you craft and implement a rhythm in your day that gives a sense of calm and peace that is kind of magical if you can nail this daily routine with kids.

1. Follow your child’s/children’s lead

This is so important! The biggest reason for my attempts at having a routine or schedule before this was because I was basically imposing a pseudo-arbitrary routine on my kid/s that didn’t really fit for them.

Whenever I try to force too much onto my kids and pull them outside of their natures it doesn’t work out well.

The ideal way to structure your day is to be super observant of your children. Watch for their cues. Are there times when they get extra cranky? Is it because they are hungry? Tired? Overstimulated?

That is why I focus on creating rhythms and routines instead of schedules.

I try to see what my kids are naturally doing and maybe just nudge them here and there.

I also love following the Waldorf idea of thinking of your day as in and out-breaths. Children (and adults too) need time to be calm, chill, relaxed, introspective, thoughtful, creative, and then time to blow off steam, play, run, jump, sing, and dance.

The daily routines should reflex the natural in and out-breaths of the child/ren, and yourself.

2. Consistency + Flexibility

I can be so tempting to backslide into chaos.

Truly creating new habits and routines can be really hard at first, especially for tiny ones who don’t even really grasp the concept of times and schedules yet.

Being consistent is so important when you first start implementing a daily routine with kids.

As much as kids might be independent and want to do things the way they want without being told by a grown-up, they actually thrive with some amount of structure and routine.

When my daughter asks what day it is and I answer “Friday,” she then asks, “But what does that mean?

She doesn’t yet associate days of the week with specific activities. Instead, she knows that certain activities follow others. So she might not know that she has swim on Mondays, music on Tuesdays, and ballet on Wednesday, but she does know that the day after swim is music and the day after that is ballet.

See what I mean?

This is why routines are so important. They give kids cues about what happens next in their lives so the transition between things on the agenda can be smoother.

Ironically the other aspect of creating your daily routine with kids is to also be flexible.

First, they’re kids. Meltdowns happen, colds happen, shit (literally) happens.

But also you want to give them the space to explore. So if for example, my kids are deep into some amazing playtime then I am more than willing to delay the next step in the routine as long as possible. Or if my kids are just miserable one day and we need a change of pace, I’ll swap playtime for a walk or a trip to the local petting zoo to get some new energy going.

I don’t stick to the routine no matter what just because it’s the routine.

The routine is there to provide some structure, and in general, you want to be consistent, but you also have to look at what it’s happening in front of you at the time and make a game-time decision sometimes.

3. Don’t forget your own needs too

When I crafted my first routine with the kids, it was our morning routine, and I made the decision that I would do it with my own needs in mind first.

So often we put our own self-care on the backburner because well… #momminainteasy. But if you can actually put your self-care into your daily routine with kids, it will ensure that you are taken care of too.

My morning routine (and daily routine) is constantly evolving, but in all iterations, I ensure the first thing I do (assuming there’s not a diaper explosion or sibling fight happening) is something for myself.

For example, when I wake up in the morning now, I get myself dressed, teeth brushed and ready for the day. Then I get all the kids downstairs, take my vitamins, drink a big glass of water, and get water on the stove to make my tea.

Once those basic necessities are done for myself, I then tend to the children barring any emergencies that might come up. Most time though, the kids are happy to play quietly first thing in the morning while I take care of myself.

Before I would spend all day in pajamas and if we needed to leave the house for something I would just throw on clothes quickly and do one of those superfast tooth brushings while dumping some coffee in a to-go mug. If I didn’t take care of myself first, it wouldn’t get done or just barely get done.

I have taken this approach with our entire schedule too.

Within the big routine, I shared above are tiny routines. I used to just throw together something for the kids to eat at mealtimes and let them chow down while I catch up on my email or some other not so important task.

Our new routine is that I actually fix myself a plate and sit down and eat with my kids. Not only does this help them focus on their meals more, but it’s also a real break for me. I get to sit down and have a yummy (and hot!) meal with my kids. It’s super rewarded and nourishing to my soul.

So please please please. Don’t ONLY think of the kids. Make sure you are taking your own needs and priorities into account when crafting your daily routine with kids.

Creating a daily routine with kids can ease a lot of the stress that comes along with momlife, but it should be done in a thoughtful way that works for you and your children.

I’ve seen tons of posts on Pinterest with various moms claiming to have the perfect daily routine for kids that will work every time. But I’m just gonna say I don’t buy it. All kids are different, all families are different, and all moms are different.

Some kids are cranky AF if they don’t get to sleep by 7pm, and others are happy to party all night. Some kids still take two naps a day and some are taking none. Some moms like to go out and extroverted, and some would rather just be homebodies chilling with the kids.

Do what works for your family.

These keys should help you create a daily routine with kids that DOES work for you, and honors the needs of you and your kids too.

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First, let’s get a handle on what are stem toys exactly, and then we will talk about some awesome examples of STEM toys for children of all ages, and also some perfect subscriptions for kids for Christmas or any occasion. 

I’ll share some affiliate links below as well to the products I recommend that my kids think are the coolest gifts for kids. If you choose to purchase one through my life, I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. A great way to support this blog for free if you enjoy the content.

What does STEM mean?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. The word “STEM” is an acronym for those four fields of study.

What are STEM toys?

Toys that help children learn through play in the four specific fields of study that STEM stands for. These toys help inspire children to dig deeper into understanding the nature of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Instead of sitting down and lecturing children on how pulley’s work, for example, these toys would teach them through hands-on experience how it works.

Where to buy STEM toys?

Just about anywhere! While there are many toys that are marketed at “STEM” toys, something as simple as a good set of wooden blocks spark the type of learning that you want when choosing toys for your children that will help them get a hands-on understand of STEM.

In fact, according to this article, a lot of scientists are actually imploring parents to skip many more high tech toys and instead focus on simple open-ended toys like blocks. The types of toys you might find a Montessori or Waldorf-style classroom.

Are Legos STEM toys?

YES! Besides wooden blocks or maybe Lincoln Logs, Legos are one of the most quintessential ones that promote open-ended play that allows children to get a sense of engineering, geometry, gravity, etc. Tons of basic STEM-style principles.

How much do STEM toys cost?

As much or as little as you want.

I’ve found great deals on some at my local second-hand shop, and have gotten great sets of colorful blocks for my kids on Amazon. I also loved the Amazon STEM monthly subscription box for my daughter that was totally affordable.

But even when it comes to wooden blocks, you can find some extremely high-end ones, like these Grimm’s blocks which are highly sought after by minimalist and eco-conscious moms.

Amazon STEM Toy Club Subscription

My daughter was enrolled in this subscription for around six months, and we loved it! You can choose to sign up for a new STEM inspired toy to be delivered to your door every month, two months, or three months. A lot of the toys I’ll recommend below came from this subscription. It’s only $19.99 a month, and sometimes you end up getting toys worth $30 or more!

Colorful Blocks from Melissa and Doug

I just picked these blocks up for my boys for the 2nd birthday, and they love them! (And so does my almost 5-year-old. They’re a real crowd pleaser.)

Grimm’s Blocks

Quite the splurge, these Grimm’s blocks are gorgeous and incredibly crafted. They’re an investment, but any mom I’ve known who got them said it was worth every penny.

Magnetic Tiles

My daughter loved these so much we got a second set for even bigger builds! They are so great for creating unusual and extra fun designs, and my twins are starting to get into them too.

Science Laboratory Kit

Just a couple of hours ago my daughter was pulling this out to do her “experiments.” What is so cool about this is that older kids can learn scientific concepts from the material included, or as my daughter does, just have fun playing with the equipment.

Gears Building Set from Learning Resources

I love playing with this set myself! Literally everyone I’ve seen sit down with this gear building set has loved it whether they are one-year-old or 40.

Maze O

This set lets you create your own mazes either by following the plans in the book that comes with it, or with your own imagination. It’s just the right size to then run a matchbox car through!

Automobile Engineer Kit

Build your own automobile with this kit! This one doesn’t include an engine, it’s a push car toy, but you can create tons of different designs and variations with the instruction book included. My husband and daughter had so much fun making their own car with this kit!

K’nex Demolition Truck Building Set

This kit comes with a motorized engine, and is suited for kids a little older or you can help them. It’s so cool to create your own vehicle that moves on its own! Definitely one of the coolest toys for kids out there!

What did we miss? Have a favorite STEM toy we didn’t include or did you finally learn what is a STEM toy? Let us know in the comments which other toys you think are the coolest toys for kids!

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Gratitude in and for this SAHM life (stay-at-home-mom life), has been on my mind for a while as I navigate my own ship through motherhood, but today I came across something that put it on full blast.

Today I was nursing a toddler back to sleep and naturally googling stay-at-home-mom memes to pass the time and I came across this blog post entitled “Dear Stay at Home Moms, Please Shut Up” on the blog Momlife and Margaritas all about how SAHM life isn’t as hard as moms make it out to be.

I was ready to be annoyed. I wanted to be pissed. I wanted to get into the comments and point out all the ways she was being an idiot… but then I read it.

…and I think maybe she has a point.

The first thing that won me over to her side was the fact that she is also a stay-at-home-mom. She gets a pass to be just a teeny bit harsh with fellow SAHM’s since she’s on the same field of play we are.

This post is clearly written in a bit of an inflammatory way to get attention and be a little funny, and I have a few quibbles (like the section about letting yourself go).

But… maybe she’s right and our perspective is just really off. Maybe it’s time for a SAHM life reality check.

I’ll admit it has taken me some time to acclimate to the idea that I am truly a stay-at-home-mom, and I’m living this SAHM life for the foreseeable future.

It wasn’t what I planned on growing up, and although it is literally a dream come true, a dream I didn’t even admit to myself for a long time, it’s easy to get bogged down in the bullshit details of SAHM life instead of seeing the big picture.

That’s what this article I read did for me.

I think about the fact that I am extremely lucky all the time and that I should be in a constant state of gratitude, but this post just really hit the nail on the head, like with this section:

“Plenty of moms not only have laundry to do but they have to save their quarters and drag their squirming toddler to a laundromat for two hours each week after working full time. If their kid barfs all over their comforter at 3 am they are screwed. Shut the F up about the laundry, it’s not that serious.”

We do have real issues to deal with as stay-at-home-moms, but the ones we complain about the most are usually things that are absolute bullshit.

Like how I complain all the time about being my kids’ snack bitch.

Let me paint a picture. Here I am in my nice rural home. I live in one of the safest places in the world with a pantry full of food mostly organic and sourced from Whole Foods. I pretty much afford to buy whatever food I want whenever I want it. I do not have to worry about whether my kids will eat. We aren’t super-wealthy, but healthy food is a priority for us and we make it work.

My biggest worry is having to get my kids like 100 snacks every day. That is not something to worry about or even be stressed about.

That is something to be thankful for. I have the ability to feed my kids ALL THE SNACKS ALL DAY without worry. So why am I worried? Why am I not in a constant state of gratitude?

Well, I’m working on it, but you know what I think the real issue might be?

The demands of modern motherhood aren’t hard for many living the SAHM life when it comes to basic things like doing the laundry, dishes, cleaning up…

It’s that we have those duties plus the mental strain that comes with being a mom, having little support, and finding ourselves more and more isolated with Facebook groups or Instagram being our final place of connection.

We hide what’s really going on below the surface with jokes about being a mombie, having so many baby socks to pair up, or picky eaters.

The loneliness, the postpartum depression, the stay-at-home-mom depression, the pressure to be perfect at a job that is impossible to be perfect at, the guilt when we aren’t perfect, the mom-shaming leveled at us when all we are doing is our best…

These things aren’t as easy to joke about as the piles of laundry.

What if it’s easier to just complain about all the laundry instead of admitting we are depressed, which is making it hard to do the laundry (and a lot of basic tasks).

Maybe we just have these silly things that we complain about as a way of actually finding that connection with other moms. Making friends and building a community is so hard. Sharing horror stories about baby diaper blowouts is a way to begin those connections with limited vulnerability.

SAHM life IS hard. There are frustrations, there are messes, there is even anger when the toddler is literally tap dancing on the dinner table for the 1,000th time that day after drawing on the walls. Momlife and Margaritas acknowledges this.

I do think that we need to get some perspective sometimes on all the problems we think are huge, but are truly tiny.

BUT we also need to acknowledge that perhaps the complaints are just a cover-up for what’s happening to us on a much deeper level as we try to live our best SAHM life.

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While the bond I have with my daughter is priceless, it was having a boy that taught me about self-love.

You see I love my daughter every ounce as much as my sons, but as a woman, I know what difficulties she will probably face growing up today as a girl. Having the chance to raise a girl and help her create a world full of even more equality for women is a privilege.

But my sons? I don’t have those same issues at play, and also any of my own personal issues that are related to being a woman or a girl aren’t placed on them. The bond is more simple than that with my daughter.

One night I lay awake staring at a chubby-faced baby boy. I think about all the ways I’m not the perfect mom.

All the ways I have and will let him down. All the choices I must make and whether they are the right ones.

But there is one thing I know.

There is one thing I can and will do. It is love him. I can love him fiercely and without limits. With such intensity, it is exquisite and almost painful. 

Holding so much joy inside it almost bursts.

This is what I learn from being his mom. This amount of love, and how to finally feel this love for not just a romantic partner, or even my child. But for myself.

It is only through my children that I see my true self. The self that is worthy of unconditional love. The self that makes mistakes, but is still beautiful. The self that isn’t just worthy of love, but IS love. 

For that fierce love I hold for him? He was the one who brought it into being, just as I brought him into being. Because just as I love him with every cell of my body, he loves me in return.

He gives me the best gift in allowing me to mother him. In allowing me to mother myself through feeling this love and turning it inward. To heal all the wounds that were left by the men before him. 

He does what a man can not. He does what only the purity of a tiny boy can do. To guide me through this symbiosis of love between us that reopens, cleanses and sears those old tattered and scarred wounds, and leaves nothing but light in their place. 

This light is unending. This light is blinding but gentle. This light is mine, and this light is his.

We can change the world this little man and me. If we can teach each other this love… How do we not teach it to others?

Having a boy helped me learn true self- love. What would the world be like if we could all find a level of self-love (and love for others) even remotely close to this?

How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

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3 Simple Ways to Be a Mindful Mom

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Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

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3 Keys to Create a Daily Routine with Kids for Less Stress

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What Are STEM toys? The Coolest Gifts for Kids.

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Should Moms Stop Complaining About SAHM Life?

Should Moms Stop Complaining About SAHM Life?

Gratitude in and for this SAHM life (stay-at-home-mom life), has been on my mind for a while as I navigate my own ship through motherhood, but today I came across something that put it on full blast. Today I was nursing a toddler back to sleep and naturally googling...

15 Perfect First Time Mom Christmas Gifts

15 Perfect First Time Mom Christmas Gifts

Trying to find the perfect first time mom Christmas gifts? This list has you covered! These mom-approved gifts are all available on Amazon, affordable, and would be so welcomed by any mama as the first time mom Christmas gifts. As I sat down to curate this list I...

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How to Take Better Photos of Your Kids

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My Mom Morning Routine with 3 Kids Under 5

My Mom Morning Routine with 3 Kids Under 5

Need to revamp your mom morning routine with kids? I did too. After being stressed all the time, I decided to cultivate a more peaceful morning vibe, and so far it’s working.

My mom morning routine with kids has never been something I structured much. I am a very go with the flow kind of mom who follows my children’s lead so that I am creating their routines and schedules around where they are in their development and preferences.

So when I decided to make some slight changes to what we were doing in the mornings, I didn’t make and big sweeping changes that would shake my children’s sense of security and rhythm.

Instead, I focused on myself. While my kids are part of my mom morning routine, I didn’t start us on this routine with them in mind, but rather with me in mind.

Because a happy mom is a happy family, and a less stressed mom means more fun for kids. If I’m more at peace from the start of the day, then I’m less likely to turn into a mom monster by bedtime.

Let me walk you through some of the most important aspects of my routine. These are the things that are game-changers to me that lead to more peaceful mornings with my kids. (And we still get all the things we need done!)

And just a couple disclaimers. First, I have added affiliate links to this post, so if you want to check out a product I love and purchase through my link, I get a small commission at no cost to you.

Also, this is our ideal morning. This happens about half the time. The other half things go off the rails. So don’t think I am perfect and have it all together every single day. That just isn’t true. Many days, I’m a hot mess.

Self-Care Comes First

I might do a quick diaper check on my twins when we first wake up in the morning and get downstairs, but once I’m sure there won’t be any poop or pee leaking around my house, I focus on myself for just a few minutes.

First, I turn on my light therapy lamp. It’s currently the week of Halloween here in the Northeast US, and as we get deeper in fall, approaching winter, the days are shorter. In fact, some mornings we wake up and it’s still dark out.

I tend to fall victim to seasonal affective disorder, and so getting my light lamp on right away is part of what I’m doing to help combat it this year. The rest of my morning self-care routine is in an attempt to stave it off as well as just my general propensity to fall into depressive cycles no matter the season.

Once the lamp is on, I grab a full glass of water and my vitamins. I make sure to drink the entire glass so I can kick off the day hydrated. There are tons of benefits to starting your day with water instead of coffee right away, and I can vouch that they are true from my anecdotal experience.

The vitamins I’m currently taking are a prenatal (because I’m still nursing), Vitamin D, Vitamin B Complex, and Calcium Magnesium. I explain why I chose these vitamins in this blog post.

Only after I do these things, do I start making my coffee.

I used to use a Keurig, but I hated all the waste it created, both financially and environmentally. For a while, I used the reusable cups that fit into the Keurig. I was able to make that work, but I didn’t LOVE it.

Eventually, I made the switch to french press coffee, and OMG my life is so much better. The process of making the coffee, from putting the kettle on the stove and hearing it whistle when it’s ready to the smell of the freshly ground beans just feels luxurious.

The Keurig was very utilitarian, and that’s cool, but the french press just makes me feel like my coffee is special. Not to mention, it is the most delicious coffee you can make.

Kids Time

So what have the kids been doing while I’ve been doing my little self-care mom morning routine? Playing!

If all went well the night before, which is an odds of about 50/50, then the living room and kitchen are mostly tidy and they can dive into re-messifying it.

An empty space with toys displayed on the shelf (Montessori style) is super enticing to my kids, and for the most part, they can entertain themselves for pretty long stretches. Of course, I am literally in the same room with them so they are not “alone,” but they are playing independently (or with each other).

An important note on the toys. 97% of the toys we have are quiet. They make NO noise. I tend to favor wooden or eco-friendly toys when possible, though we still have a good bit of plastic toys as well.

Beyond the fact that quiet toys mean more peaceful mornings with kids, it also allows them to use their own imagination and creativity much more than other toys.

Some days we do our self-care routine and playtime in silence. No TV or anything except the occasional squeal of a playing kid. Most days though, I turn on Spotify on a Disney playlist and we rock out to some tunes.

When one of my kids is sick or it was a really rough night I will turn an actual show or YouTube on TV, but I really avoid this in the morning.

My kids are generally in the best moods in the morning and happiest to play quietly without any additional entertainment or complaint. The goal for me is to keep the TV off (besides music) until afternoon when my daughter can watch something as my twins nap.

Breakfast!

After I finish the self-care part of my mom morning routine with kids, I start getting breakfast ready for the kids while they play.

We go through phases of what we eat for breakfast. We had a good month or two there when we had pancakes for breakfast nearly every single day. Made from scratch no less!

My daughter usually helps me in the kitchen whether that is with measuring and mixing up pancakes, making popcorn in the airpopper, or even cutting up the fruit with a crinkle cutter!

She is 4, turning 5 soon, and food preparation is an essential part of her homeschool/preschool. I like to focus on practical skills, art, and play right now.

Once breakfast is ready I call them all into the kitchen area and I sing them a little morning song that my boys love. This is the song. It just seems to be like the official start of the day. We are totally awake and ready to start the day with some delicious food.

More Me Time

I do intermittent fasting, so I don’t usually eat breakfast with the kids. I do the 16:8 method, which basically means I stop eating around 7-8pm at night and then skip breakfast and have my first meal around 11-12pm.

My main reason for this is that I just feel better when I don’t eat breakfast doing and am not usually hungry for breakfast. I also have found it helps with the couple patches of psoriasis I have.

I’m not a nutritionist or recommending everyone do this, it is just what seems to make me feel the best and have the most energy. Instead of eating, I get to drinking my coffee and having some quiet time to myself as the kids dig in. Though I am flexible here. If my husband wakes up before me and makes his famous chocolate chip pancakes or cinnamon sugar donuts, you bet I’ll be indulging!

At this point, I’ll usually do some work, read the news, even read a book, or do some budgeting. Whatever catches my attention that morning. Sometimes I even set a 5-minute timer and clean up the living room if we didn’t get to it the night before.

But this isn’t supposed to be hardcore work time. I do get stuff done a lot, but it’s at my own pace and as I feel like it. Sometimes that means sitting with my coffee and scrolling Instagram, and sometimes it means wiping down every surface in the kitchen, sweeping the floor and mopping. I go with how I feel.

Time to Go Outside

I am really committed to getting my kids outside every day that I can. We don’t get out for long periods every single day, but my goal is to be out 3 hours a day! To get 3 hours of outdoor play in each day means I try to get at least one of those hours in during the morning.

This one of my favorite aspects of my mom morning routine with kids.

Some experts recommend kids have at least 3 hours of undirected play outside each and every day. I am convinced of the benefits of being outside for my kids because more time outside usually means better sleep, fewer tantrums, and better appetites.

But again… this is part of my own self-care.

As much as I believe this is good for my children, I KNOW it is just as good for me. Even if it is as simple as taking what’s left of my french press out onto the back porch while the kids swing and slide on our play equipment, I feel so much more grounded and like myself when I have time outside.

If my husband is up and ready when it’s time to go outside and he doesn’t have immediate work, we go for walk as a family around the neighborhood. This is one of my favorite times. Being outside with my favorite people, and I know how lucky I am that this is my life.

Somedays we have activities or outings scheduled first thing in the morning and outdoor time has to wait. For example, on Mondays we have ballet and Thursdays my boys have speech therapy in our home. So on those days, we go outside in the afternoon.

But somedays we are able to go hiking in the woods or for walks in a park with other moms, and that is always awesome too.

For Christmas, I just got my boys some Oaki waterproof rain suits so the elements won’t be a reason for us to miss time outside.

This is a Mom Morning Routine with Kids, NOT a Schedule

So at this point in our day, we are usually starting to get towards 10-11 am, which means my twins are ready for a nap.

But I want to take a minute to note something you might have observed. I don’t have specific times that all of this goes down. Unless we have a scheduled activity or event, the mornings are very free-flowing and easy-going.

Peaceful. Calm. Relaxing… besides the occasional toddler fight over a toy.

Since each of my kids were born, I have never put them on a schedule. Instead, I follow their lead. I watch their cues and respond accordingly. We don’t feed on a schedule we feed on demand. We don’t have a scheduled time for bed, we follow cues on when they are sleepy, and we eat when they show signs of hunger.

After the first few weeks, babies will typically find their own rhythm, their own routine. Once that happens, I just adjust our life accordingly. I might try to nudge them towards one time or another as needed, maybe pushing naps a little longer by 20-30 minutes, sometimes an hour, but I try to stick to what their little bodies want to do naturally.

So many of us are not used to being able to follow our own body’s intuitive cues that we think we need to over-schedule our children’s lives too. But I’ve found when I am able to just tap into all of our needs and follow the signs our bodies give, things go so much more smoothly.

Our mornings generally begin around 6-7 am when my twins wake up. Sometimes I let them play at the foot of my bed for a little while with whatever toy I have in the room for them with some Mickey Mouse on.

If I’m super tired, I’ll let them do this for 30 minutes to an hour until I can drag my sleepy butt out of bed. I don’t really sleep during this time, just relax and try to enjoy my cozy bed a little longer.

But by no later than 7:30 usually we are downstairs and into the mom morning routine I outlined above.

To reiterate one more time, it isn’t a schedule, it’s a flowing morning routine with kids.

Just the Right Amount of Structure

The reason morning routines with kids are so nice is because kids do tend to do well with some amount of structure, as do adults. Though they also need their own time to move slowly when needed, to explore, and to just be kids.

A schedule that is too structured or too regimented can take away a lot of the whimsical and playful feeling of being a kid. Our kids grow up so fast nowadays, that if we can at least in our mornings protect this feeling of freedom, then it can go a long way.

I realize that a lot of moms out there have school drop-offs to do, work to get to, and activities scheduled every day.

So I would challenge you to consider how you can incorporate this spirit of peace and free-flowing time with your children. Is there something you can cut out? Can you focus on having one day a week, on the weekend perhaps? Can you embrace the old school tradition of a sabbath? A day of rest where you have no plans and can embrace some self-care routines and free play with the kids?

There are a ton of ways to can bring the spirit of a lazy and peaceful morning routine into your life if you think outside the box.

But back to structure.

There is ONE trick that I use to give us some structure during our morning routine.

That’s the list.

My daughter has a list of things that she needs to do every day before she can watch TV, her iPad, or before we can go do any fun activities or trips.

It’s not long, and if she focuses on it, she can be done with it within 15 minutes or so, but she can also take her time with it if she likes. Her list includes:

  • Get dressed
  • Brush teeth
  • Change the date on the calendar
  • Do a small writing assignment like a page of letter tracing
  • Practice her piano
  • Put any clean clothes away
  • Tidy her room

Now, she is 4. I don’t expect perfection with this like putting her clothes away or cleaning her room. Sometimes I just set a timer for 4 minutes and she has to work on it for those 4 minutes and when the buzzer goes off she can be done, but it’s fun to see how much she can accomplish during that time!

And many times there are no clothes to put away and her room is still tidy, so it isn’t even a task she has to do each day. I do know these are things she is totally capable of, and I want cleaning up after herself to just be a natural part of her life. Nothing I have to cajole or bribe her to do. So it’s just part of the morning routine.

As she does her list I generally follow along with her as she does this list, which usually happens somewhere between when we have breakfast and go outside, though sometimes she starts as soon as we get up, and sometimes she waits until my twins are napping.

But most of the time I follow the same routine with the boys as what she is following on her list after they’ve finished breakfast. When she picks out her clothes, she goes into her brothers’ room and grabs them some clothes and brings them to me. I change them, brush their teeth, and we all go over the calendar together before she does her reading and piano.

While she does her reading and piano I play a game with the boys or read them a book. The morning routine with kids is pretty flexible, but I do try to get some reading for some quality time with the boys. They looove books.

What I Don’t Do

I don’t get up before my kids.

Tons of moms and experts recommend waking up early and having some time for personal development, or time to be productive. But I just can’t.

My twins are still nursing through the night and wake up around 6 am, so I would have to get about 7 hours of sleep that is interrupted at least every 2 hours through the night and wake up by 5 am to get that extra hour of time to myself in the morning.

Maybe some day it will work for me, but right now, I need the sleep more than I need anything else.

That’s why I also make sure that I have time for myself throughout the day, even if it is in short 5-minute snippets while the kids are happily playing together.

I also structure our entire life in a way that makes me happy. Of course as a mom I have to follow my kids’ needs and ensure they are happy and cared for too, but I don’t see why I shouldn’t cultivate a life that merges all of our needs into a cohesive routine that works.

It’s not perfect, and there are days when the kids take up all my time. Then there are days when I turn on Mickey Mouse all damn day so I can get a few minutes of peace. But it all evens out in the end and I have more good days than bad, and it all starts out with the mom morning routine. A routine that centers self-care even though it is a morning routine with kids.

What about you? What is part of your mom morning routine, and your morning routine with kids? Share in the comments!

How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

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3 Simple Ways to Be a Mindful Mom

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Products to Help Baby Sleep Through the Night

Products to Help Baby Sleep Through the Night

Sleepless nights are rough, and as a new mom they can drag on for so long! But you don’t have to sleep train to help baby sleep through the night. Moms swear by these products for baby sleep.

Before we dive into ways to help baby sleep through the night, let’s get realistic about expectations first.

It is not common for young babies, and even toddlers sometimes, to sleep through the night. In fact, “sleeping through the night” is considered to be when a baby does just 5-hour stretches of sleep.

So even when they do “sleep through the night” it probably isn’t the long 8-10 hour stretch you are yearning for.

Of course, there are always those unicorn babies who just love sleeping and sleep through the night from day one, but if your baby is not one of these unicorns, don’t worry. While you can always check in with your doctor to see if there are underlying conditions like reflux that could be stopping your baby from sleeping, in most cases, it’s just a baby being a baby.

That said, there are ways to create the best environment possible to help baby sleep through the night. Here are some awesome products to lull that little one sleep.

(Heads up, there are affiliate links to some products, meaning I get a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase something.)

Just a quick note. Please do NOT use any products that have an inclined sleep surface or sleep device that is inclined as these are not safe and many have been recalled, and many more should be recalled. This includes Rock N Plays!

For resources on safe sleep practices for babies you can check out these resources:

On co-sleeping: https://kellymom.com/parenting/nighttime/cosleeping/

AAP on bedsharing: https://www.parents.com/baby/all-about-babies/the-aap-finally-admits-bed-sharing-happens-and-offers-tips-to-do-it-safely/

AAP sleep recommendations: https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Safe-Sleep-Recommendations-to-Protect-Against-SIDS.aspx

Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit

These soft and warm little suits are so adorable and definitely make up for no blankets! Lots of moms say these worked like a charm to help baby lay on their own to sleep.

Nested Bean Zen Sack

These are a newer idea when it comes to the sleepsuit, but it mimics your touch on baby’s chest with a small weight. It got 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, so it might be worth a try if other options are working well for you.

Hootie Hoo Swaddle Transition Zipadee-Zip

When my babies were teeny, if I didn’t see the Merlin suit recommended it was always this one! Mama’s claim it is awesome to use when baby is a little too old for the swaddle.

NICETOWN 100% Blackout Window Curtain Panels

Some babies need it really dark in order to sleep well. That means no lights in the bedroom, especially TV or blue lights, and maybe the sun or even ambient light from outside is messing up their sleep rhythm. Blackout curtains will keep all the light out so baby won’t be disturbed the stray headlight from a passing car, or early morning sun.

Sleep Aid Red LED Night Light Plug in with Dusk to Dawn Auto Sensor

On the other hand, red light has been shown to help sleep! Red light is said to aid with melatonin production, which is the hormone that helps you sleep and can help baby sleep through the night.

Douni Sleep Sound Machine – White Noise Machine

Most babies love white noise because it replicates the sound of mama’s blood whooshing around inside the womb. A white noise machine has been reported by many moms to be the key to good sleep for baby.

Try Essential Oils

Some essential oils, like lavender, can help relax babies (and adults). The soothing scent can be used in a diffuser or mixed with oil for a calming massage. Some baby soaps and shampoos even include lavender to help make bathtime even better for your bedtime routine to help baby sleep through the night.

The No-Cry Sleep Solution

This book is essential for parents who don’t want to use cry-it-out or other sleep training methods that involve tears. Elizabeth Pantley helps parents find gentle solutions to help baby sleep through the night.

Helping baby to sleep through the night can be a long process because well… babies wake up a lot because that’s what normal for them. But these products can help wakeful babies relax a little more. 

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How to Put Yourself First When You’re a Mom

Moms do it all. Supermoms. Take care of everyone and all their needs. There's just one thing moms aren't so great at it... it's learning how to put yourself first when you're a mom. How often do you pine for some alone time, but then it never quite pans out how you...

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3 Simple Ways to Be a Mindful Mom

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6 Types of Self Care Moms Need to Know About

6 Types of Self Care Moms Need to Know About

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Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Breastfeeding?

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3 Keys to Create a Daily Routine with Kids for Less Stress

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